When Motivation's Out, Discipline Is In!

When Motivation's Out, Discipline Is In!

"We don't have to be smarter than the rest. We have to be more disciplined than the rest." -Warren Buffett

Welcome, TrAk Fam, to the 3rd week of January!—the week where most New Year's Resolution's tend to fail... maybe you're a cut above the rest, (chances are high if you're reading this blog!) and you make it all the way to February 1st and then fall off. Either way, one thing is clear... when motivation wanes, something else needs to take its place in order to stay on track with your goals. Enter: Discipline. 

Discipline is simple. Discipline is not easy. In fact, the very definition of discipline involves "doing something even in difficult situations". When it's not fun, when it's not the most pleasant experience, when there are other things that look way more enticing, you choose to do it (or not do it) anyway. Simple, not easy. 

How do we increase discipline?

If you've got lofty goals and you find yourself struggling with motivation, the awareness of the sheer size and force of your big picture goals can start to have a detrimental effect. If you're struggling to do the little things day in and day out, it may start to feel impossible, so you give up trying. Failure is tough and uncomfy. It exposes the fact that you care deeply about something, requires a certain level of vulnerability, and you may tell yourself the story that it's safer to just give up (because you'll never fail if you never try, right?). 

When you're climbing a mountain, you don't just stare at the top the whole way through thinking about how much farther you have to go. You set your gaze on what's right in front of you, place one foot in front of the other, and pause every now and then to check your progress. Consider your plan of attack with setting and carrying out your goals in much the same way. It's great that you have clarity on where you want to go, even if it's far from where you are today. That's what goals are for! It's also great to periodically spend some time refining and looking at your long-term goals, but resist the temptation to spend too much time here. (Depending on your goals, once a month or even once every 3 months can work well for this process). Once you're clear on where you want to go and have an action plan to help you get there, it's time to put your head down, start small, and build. 

Start small.

In a round-about and paradoxical kind of way, increasing discipline requires at least a certain amount of discipline to begin with. Lucky for you, as a functioning adult who holds a job, or goes to school, maintains relationships, takes care of oneself, pays the bills, etc... you have just the right amount of discipline to start here. 

Choose just ONE habit that is a little bit uncomfortable for you to do consistently, and dedicate yourself to mastering it. Maybe it's making your bed in the morning, or drinking a glass of water before your coffee, or meditating for 5 minutes a day. This will require some self-inquiry on your part. What is something that is small enough, uncomfortable enough and meaningful enough for you to start with? Just start here, and let it take as long as it needs to for it to become engrained. If meditating 5 minutes a day is too big of a commitment to start, scale it back to 1 minute. You know you can do anything for 1 minute, and often times once you get started (the hardest part) you find that you actually can go for longer. 


We're going to take a page from James Clear's Atomic Habits on this one and talk about the process of Habit Stacking. The idea is simple: once you have a well established habit/routine, you build your next habit off of that one. Clear's formula is stated as follows:

"After/before (current habit), I will (new habit)." 

In this way, we are able to build good habits and put together a routine, and reduce the likelihood of friction or excuses by taking guesswork and ambiguity out of the picture. Instead of "I'll walk more" or even the more specific and actionable "I will go for a 30 min walk 5 days a week", habit stacking gives a clear cue for when it's time to start this habit. "After I make my bed, I will go for a walk", making the bed being the habit you know you will do every day no matter what, and walking being the new habit you're working on. Make sure the cue you chose to stack off of is one that is already engrained and happens daily, and set yourself up for success by choosing a time when you are most likely to succeed.  

You can start by making a list of the habits that you know for sure happen on a daily basis, and a list of things that you know are going to happen to you daily. Then you can look these two lists over and decide the best place to implement the new habit you're working on. 

By removing as much friction as possible around the habits and lifestyle changes you're looking to make, the likelihood that you will follow through even when motivation dips and self-discipline feels harder to come by is high. Get curious about what's working and what isn't. If something truly is not working, you have many options before just giving up on a habit and deciding it's not for you. Try out some of these tips and see if you can course-correct. 

Sometimes the missing link in all of this is simply having the right amount of accountability from a coach or mentor to keep you going. If you're looking to make some big changes this year, build a sustainable routine involving diet, lifestyle and nutrition changes, all while being personally coached and guided through it, hit the link below to find out more about our 2023 New Year Challenge. 




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