Discipline is a Mindset Skill that comes up a lot in conversations with the teams and individuals I work with; the discipline to do what is necessary to achieve their larger goals, and not just easy/expedient/fun right now. The discipline to stick to an exercise regimen or healthy diet after the initial interest and motivation has burned out.
My idea is that to make sticking to something easier, it is better to control the input, rather than the response.
The story is always the same. We plan out the perfect and most consistent work schedule. We buy chicken breast and broccoli stems by the truckload. We set up the brand new guitar and buy a lifetime’s subscription to the latest guitar-learning app.
For the first week of the year, everything is great — we’re well on our way, taxying down the runway of achievement. By week 2, we are erratically multitasking at our desks with a phone in our ear and a pen in our hand, we’re in the nearest Five Guys with a burger and Fries, and the guitar is still very much brand new. We never quite seem to take off. Why?
This article is about why your New Year’s resolutions aren’t working now, and about how you can right the ship if you want to.
Motivation is like empty carbs. It gives us a quick hit of energy, but burns itself out very quickly. Discipline, on the other hand, is our protein — slower to break down, and so keeps us going longer. This is not an article about how motivation is meaningless, but rather about how motivation alone will not get us very far without a good portion of discipline on our plate alongside it.
Much is said and written about the virtues of ‘believing in yourself’, ‘backing yourself’ and ‘ignoring the nay-sayers’. This advice is applied to business situations, to personal relationships, and pursuing your dreams and goals. There is no denying the importance of self-belief. After all, if we don’t take ourselves seriously, we can’t expect anyone else to. But should we always listen to ourselves? Are the voices in our head always right? In my opinion, to make real change in our lives, we should sometimes ‘tactically ignore’ the things we tell ourselves to do; forgoing what seems like the best choice right now, for what we truly want long term.