Motivation and discipline go hand in hand when it comes to achieving success but are very inherently different in application. People who are motivated are the best to be around, they always seem to be in an upbeat mood and are always encouraging others to do better but what if I told you that person was living a lie? Motivation is fine and dandy but takes so much energy to obtain and maintain where as having discipline means you do whatever you have to do, no matter what and that mentality will get you far further in life.
So let’s break that down. Motivation is the procrastinators worst enemy and is the worst enemy of anyone trying to accomplish a large task that they maybe don’t want to. There’s the key right there, it’s something they don’t want to do in the first so they have to talk themselves into doing it. However, more often than not, you end up talking yourself out of things. I’m super guilty of this; presented with a larger than normal task and instead of buckling down to do it, I make excuses as to why I can’t do it yet and eventually talk myself out of whatever I was doing. Motivation is good to get you going but once you’re motivated to do something, turn that into discipline to actually get it done.
Motivation is a waiting game, to put it simply. You’re waiting for the conditions to be right in order to complete whatever task you needed to complete and that will always lead to failure or procrastination. Motivation requires you to rely on it, to be dependent on your ability to talk yourself into doing things but no offense, some of us aren’t very good motivators.
So how do you go from, “I can’t do that now” to just doing it no matter what? Well, it won’t be easy. You’re going to have to train yourself to have self-discipline and just like anything, this will take daily practice and mindfulness to master.
The first thing to do is to stop reading about motivation. It’s a fallacy that people have made millions of dollars off of and it’s sickening because motivation means nothing. I know people who everyday say, “Tomorrow’s the day, I’m going to wake up early and go the gym!” but when the day comes, their motivation has gone and they no longer want to do those things and they’re not disciplined to do it anyways. So why read about something that won’t help you? Because we’re told to believe that motivation is the key to success, but it’s not self-discipline is. Motivation comes and goes and is easy to talk yourself out of but discipline requires mindfulness and accountability.
Second, you need to know your weaknesses and what may tempt you because knowing yourself first, is key to mastering self-discipline. My biggest weakness, is sleeping. I would skip my own funeral to take a nap. Recognizing your weaknesses and temptations will help you plan for them so that you won’t have to compromise your progress. One thing I do that helps me get out of bed faster, especially when all I want to do is sleep, I take my cat’s food up at night. Why? Because every day around 6am she will inevitably wake me up to feed her and because this furry little creature depends on me, it forces me to get up anyways. It motivates me to get up sure, but I have to make the choice to get up so that she doesn’t go hungry, I have to be disciplined enough to get up and feed her instead of saying, “She can wait one or two more hours”. Once I’m up, I try to be mindful and make the decision to stay up by making a smoothie, some food or drinking some ice cold water because if I allow myself to go back to sleep, I’ll lose that progress. I also use a lot of caffeine to get myself going, Genius Caffeine is my saviour on those mornings that I really don’t want to be up. It gives me a good amount of energy but I don’t get the jitters or the crash like with other caffeine products or energy drinks. So once you know your weaknesses and temptations, make a plan to overcome them and then make another plan in case you fail, both that are simple enough you won’t have to think twice about it but matters enough that you will do it no matter what.
This one ties right in with the last. Set small goals that will accumulate to a much larger accomplishment. This is a great tool to use with any large project or any task that seems overwhelming. Break it down into bite sized pieces, accomplish one at a time and in no time, you’ll have completed the whole thing. Mastering self-discipline is no different. Because this skill takes constant practice and mindfulness, at times it can be quite draining to acquire so breaking your self-discipline goals down into bite sized pieces will help you be more successful and will feel much more rewarding. For instance, you want to be more disciplined and not eat after 9pm. Seems easy but trust me, it’s tough. One way to break down this goal is to set a bedtime and a cutoff time. Let’s say your normal bedtime is 12am, let’s keep that and set the cutoff time for 10pm, just two hours with no food. You’re successful with this for one full week so you keep your bedtime at 12am but you push your cutoff time back 30-minutes to 930pm. You nail this one for another week, so you take your cutoff time back another 30-minutes to 9pm and you kill it and now you’ve created a new habit! What we did here is change only one thing to keep it simple, the cutoff time for eating, if you try to change too much too soon, you will fail regardless. Remember, it takes about 40,000 repetitions of something to really create a habit, and about 100,000 to correct the habit so replacing your old habit with a new one is far easier than trying to correct your old habit.
Expect and accept failure, just don't let it control you.
Now, in the event that you fail, it’s not that it’s no big deal but be mindful and try to figure out and understand why you failed; Did you not eat enough during the day? Did you eat dinner while watching something or being distracted? Are you properly hydrated? All things you can ask yourself with regard to the above example, but once you identify why you failed, be disciplined enough to start fresh right away; don’t, “wait for tomorrow”. So you mess up and eat cereal at 10pm, oops. Acknowledge you messed up, take accountability for your actions and make a plan so you will stop eating that night and won’t fail again tomorrow. Remember, failure is part of progress, if we don’t fail we don’t learn and if we’re not learning, we’re not trying. Expect and accept failure, just don’t let it control you. The most successful people take their failures and grow from them so they don’t make the same mistake again.
Lastly, change your perception of willpower and discipline. You have to believe you have the willpower to make the right choices and the discipline to make the right choice even if you’re willpower fails. If you’re walking down the candy aisle and excuse your lack of discipline for lack of willpower you will never be able to achieve a high-level of discipline. Willpower turns to discipline when practiced enough so instead, acknowledge that you want the candy but then also acknowledge that you’re strong and are disciplined with willpower so your forego the candy and set a future reward for not giving in now. For instance, tell yourself that if you can not eat after 9pm for a whole week, you’ll reward yourself with candy. Positive reinforcement and reward will make achieving your goals and acquiring the skill of self-discipline much easier. If there’s nothing to look forward to, there’s no motivator for doing something.
Thank you for tuning in today and I really hope this helps someone out there. I know I’ve struggled with discpline so just know, you’re not alone.
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