Getting Started & Maintaining Momentum: Motivation vs Discipline
Have you ever come across an interesting Ted Talk or some YouTube motivational video that really got you pumped? They talk of “change”, “motivation”, and “discipline”, and have “epic” music playing in the background to compliment pictures of mankind at its apex!
These are excellent sources of motivation and inspiration to keep you going when starting a tough task. If you listen closely, you will hear some common threads of wisdom and advice throughout all of them. However, listening to these media pieces and putting them to task is often easier imagined than done. Not to degrade the tactic of imagining the final product/outcome as a means to direct and focus the mind to that end…
But one tidbit of advice picked up from these videos was a statement that said “Motivation gets your started, but discipline carries you forward to completion.”
It is often true that getting started, requires a kick in the rear strong enough to overcome that feeling of complacency - that rut where you can easily slide into and feel that things are “good or comfortable enough”. It is the same spot where you second guess your dreams by saying “don’t be too ambitious, life is short, and I’d rather enjoy it by having fun than working hard”. Yeah I have been there quite a few times.
Getting back on track, motivation and desire are the forces (with some healthy self-reflection) that help you decide that a change is necessary. It’s the force that has you reading this blog post (hopefully) and the force that will get you up tomorrow morning at 4 am to start your new life with a 2 mile run!
But motivation can only carry you so far. Eventually, the will and desire that got you started, that you hoped would push you along until the new routine became entrenched, will end. Remember, motivation is a pushing force, while discipline is a pulling/staying force. So how do we help ourselves out, how do we learn to stay on track? Especially with all of life’s beautiful distractions: warm beds, alcohol, pizza, significant others, and ice cream.
This is where discipline comes into play. But how does one learn discipline? Especially when there is no external force acting upon you to instill it. Coach, professor, Mom, Dad, GF/BF are not always there (especially at 5 am). It’s just you and your self-reliance.
So, what are some ways in which we can begin to shape the mind to build up our internal fortitude and mental discipline?
One answer is through “simple and easily completed consistent actions”. I’m sure you hear about the power of consistent actions and behavior (even Dr. Figura will tell you that). But what I would like to focus on here is the "simple" part of that statement.
Some examples perhaps:
Write stuff down, and no, not electronically (however alarms and auto reminders do help). Grab a pen and paper or better yet, install a white board in your living space (or a small tablet sized white board). Make it a point to write and erase things as they come, even the ones you do every day! Write, complete, erase, and re-add (if applicable). The act of writing it down in a list has greater weight on the mind and if anything - it shows the world what you plan to accomplish! Write this list every night before bed and adjust during the day.
Make small decisions on “how” you will accomplish the task. For example, if you have a morning exercise and stretch routine, make it a habit to decide that day which order you want to commence and don’t forget to switch it up! Making a decision on something simple will actually help the mind focus and prepare for the completion of the task. It’s akin to the old adage of “just start writing anything, when you have writer’s block”. It’s not so important what you write, but getting it started with chaff is still better than waiting all day for the perfect start.
Give yourself the props on the little stuff as well as the hard stuff. Just keeping consistent is well enough to be proud and acknowledge good actions. And don’t forget to rest when needed, do so in short bursts with a timer set to prevent wavering commitment to the task at hand.
Write your weekly workout schedule out and what the routine will be and keep track of the progress of how many reps per weight for each activity over time.
Set up causality by using some what-if situations for your actions. “If I eat this chocolate bar tonight, I will make sure to run before hand or else I can’t eat it”. And stick to it… have fun!
There are many more out there and I am sure you will figure out what works for yourself! However, one "not so easy" aspect of discipline I wanted to mention here for its importance is about cutting out the “people deadweight” in your life (or at least limiting it) and replacing it with those who can support your goals.
By this I mean the people who always say “you can’t do that” or invite you to drink each week when you should be at the gym, or move you from your diet regiment consistently under the guise of YOLO or fun. You know what I mean and remember that balance is important and to make time for those you might be changing yourself for!
With this I leave you with a quote from one of my personal favorites, Teddy Roosevelt. A man deeply devoted to what Frederick Jackson Turner avowed as “the Spirit of America”, i.e., “self-reliance”.
“I choose not to be a common man. It’s my right to be uncommon if I can. I’ll seek opportunity, not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled …. I want to take the calculated risk, to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed… I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence”
Hopefully it sparks some of that motivation for your 4am run tomorrow! And with that, I hope you enjoyed this post and as always please like and share, and leave your comments below! Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well for updates and new releases! As always - stay informed and be healthy!