The beginning of a new year blankets us all with a sense of a renewed motivation. Some of us strive for better eating habits, more exercising, reading more, or a million other new years resolutions. It is all nonsense. None of you will do any of that.
And I won’t either.
If you have ever failed to make a change in your life whether it’s in January or any other time of the year, it isn’t your fault. Changes that don’t “stick” are not a failure and you shouldn’t feel bad about yourself for not going the distance.
Most likely your actions were driven by the wrong idea. An idea that failed you, not the other way around.
The desire for big change stirs within us all at some point. We get fed up with something in our lives and we say that’s enough. We then start right away with fixing it. This is a time that we feel hugely motivated. The negative feeling was too much, we start to act to counter those negative feelings and we think we will continue until we reach whatever better situation or goal we envisioned.
It sounds nice, and most of us have tried it, but the reality is, it fails.
The reason it fails is we rely on the motivation to act.
Motivation is fickle. Motivation is fleeting. Motivation doesn’t matter. It is the wrong thing to use to drive positive change in our lives. It is just a feeling and feelings can change.
So, what’s the right thing? The right thing is the complete opposite of motivation…
Commitment and discipline.
Commitment and discipline are infinitely harder, but they will never let you down like motivation does. Commitment and discipline take the feelings right out of the equation. You no longer leave the progress you desire to how you feel that day because if you make a commitment to achieve that change and have the discipline to act on it you will make forward progress. It is no longer a feeling, it becomes bygone conclusion of taking action.
But, making a true commitment is not easy and it is quite scary. We fear commitment because we could still fail, or quit, or not live up to what we say we were going to do. Then we have to look ourselves in the mirror and realize we are a failure. We expose our true selves. It is a hard pill to swallow and most people avoid it because it is easier to not try than to truly commit and fail.
But what kind of a shitty life is that?
Everything we want is on the other side of that fear. To have the commitment and discipline to eat a healthy diet and exercise every day would completely change our lives.
A commitment to developing our relationships and the discipline to put in the time necessary to make them work would make us happier that we have probably ever been in our lives.
If we committed to reading 1 book a week for a year and had the discipline to get up an hour early every day to fit in that reading time, it would change your mindset to an almost unrecognizable, and certainly better place than your current thought patterns.
Motivation won’t get you there. As soon as you feel like not taking the action you need to take, motivation walks right out of your life.
Again, commitment and discipline are NOT easy, but we can make things a little easier on our selves.
- Start small – Do a 7 day trial only. Make a commitment to something for only a week, even if you want to go for a month or a year. There will be time for that later. Truly commit for just a week.
- Plan out what you will do for every day of that week – If you want to exercise write in your calendar exactly what time and what exercises you will do. If you want to read more books block out a few minutes every day for a week that you will refuse to be interrupted and read.
- Only take action with the minimum viable output – Just do the bare minimum for the 7 day test. Want to workout? Just do 10 pushups every morning at the same time for a week to see if you can accomplish it. Want to write a book? Sit down and type out only 1 paragraph every day for 7 days.
It might seem ridiculous to want to get fit but then doing only 10 pushups a day for a week. It will probably be one of the hardest things you will ever try to do. The actual pushups, no problem. But, following through on your commitment and having the discipline to not skip a day no matter what? That’s harder than you can imagine.
If you sail through a week, great! Start again and go for 10 days, then 21, then a month. You will come to a point where you will be tested, but this test is only for you to see. No one else is going to care if you quit, or skip a day, but you will know.
Commitment and discipline are hard, but if you truly want to make a positive change in your life, they are the only things that will get you there.