Motivation is overrated. With every goal I try to reach and every habit I try to internalize, I always start off motivated and eager to climb the ladder to success.
But where is my motivation three months later at 5:45am, looking up at a long day of work after a sleepless night?
Where is my motivation during a horrible week, wrought with upsets and disappointments?
I curl up in bed, knowing full well what I have to do, but my motivation is no where to be found.
Motivation is a feeling. It is sand in your palms, sensitive to even the slightest breeze.
So what force do we use to accomplish our goals if not motivation?
Courage is not the absence fear, but the ability to go on despite it.
Discipline is not the absence of avolition, but the pledge to push forward regardless of it's presence.
Discipline is the force that will be with you no matter what you are thinking or how you are feeling at the time.
No matter what you try to achieve, you will need it. From dieting, to writing a book, to cutting back on your swearing, discipline is the greatest force behind all improvement.
Here are a couple of things I have learned about discipline and how to cultivate it.
Discipline is one day at a time.
I have a little green book in the drawer beside me that I haven't opened since last august, until today.
This book was my first conscious attempt at developing my discipline, although I had no idea what I was doing at the time.
It has a check list. Read, Write, Gym, 10 Ideas, 8 Hours of sleep.
When I started this book I hadn't turned any of these things into concrete habits. I tried doing it all at once.
Every day I would put check marks beside what I did and rate myself out of 5.
It started off well, but quickly got ugly.
What I didn't know at the time is that it is impossible to completely change your life overnight.
Developing your discipline is a life long pursuit. One that most of us don't consciously pursue. We aren't all monks.
Every day try to exercise your discipline just one time. Pick the smallest habit you can and start there. Mine was making breakfast every morning.
That single habit, that single discipline workout every morning, changed my life.
For best results, treat your body with respect.
Everything that you accomplish in your life will stem from your mind. Your mind and the various states you put it through can decide whether you get closer to a better life, or slip further away.
If you are hungry, tired or stressed it will affect everything you do.
You should always make it a priority to get the proper amount of sleep and eat regularly. If you treat your body with disrespect, you will not get anything good from it.
Eating breakfast changed my life because it gave me energy in the morning and encouraged me to get more sleep so that I could wake up early enough to cook.
Your body doesn't need to be a temple, but don't let it turn into a garbage dump.
Forgive yourself and move on.
This is another major theme in life. If developing your discipline is a life long pursuit, then it only makes sense that every once and a while you are going to falter.
If you beat yourself up, you are more likely to spiral out of control and end up right back at square one.
Getting angry at yourself will solve nothing. If you fall, get back up as soon as possible and move on.
Today was an exercise in discipline for me.
I didn't really have the motivation to write today. I have two days off, I'm tired, and it's thanksgiving. If I wanted to I could have used these things as excuses to skip writing.
But this is where discipline, that little muscle that could, comes in. I know the exact moment that I don't want to do something when I know I should, is when I have to call upon that little friend.
I have a lot of other things I plan to do today. Some of them will get done, but maybe I'll miss a few.
That's okay. I'm not perfect. But I'd like to believe I'm better than I was yesterday.
Happy thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians. As always, I'll see you next Sunday.