The war of self-discipline

The war of self-discipline

A few thoughts on why we get demotivated, and how to get over it.
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I understand that there's a guy inside me that wants to lay in bed, and watch cartoons and old movies. My whole life is a series of stratagems to avoid and outwit that guy.

We won't name any names as we're para-phrasing a little, but a great man once said that. It's oddly inspiring to know that even the most talented, successful and innovative people - the ones we admire and aspire to be like - face the same mental blockers that we do. And given that we're all human, it's hugely reassuring to know that we're facing those barriers with a similar run-up. Put another way, they're human, we're human. It is possible. 

But as we overcome one challenge, the next one is often right around the corner - and it'll usually test us more than the first. For many, that challenge is self-discipline. 

The ability to control one's feelings and overcome one's weaknesses.

Self-discipline will be different for everyone, because everyone has a different task to do, or a different vision to fulfil. For some people, it's general fitness. For others, it's becoming more skilled at their sport. It can be writing your book, or crafting the perfect CV, or getting better at cooking. But no matter what it is for you, it's easy to be like the person quoted at the top; it's easy to go back to bed, or watch TV, or do just about everything else except that one thing you're supposed to be doing. 

There's two reasons for that.

1) Change is hard.

We're used to comfort, so discomfort seems alien and unpleasant to us. The key here is to realise that while sitting comfortably may seem easy at the time, it's only going to come back to haunt you later on. You've got to find, face and defeat that discomfort head on: right now. It's going to be a challenge, but that challenge will be harder the longer you've let it sit quietly in the background. And unless you take action, you'll never realise your potential. And one day, the quiet murmur of Easy Street will be a loud bang of regret.

We all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline, or the pain of regret... 

2) Humans like now.

We see so many diets and exercise regimes that claim to offer miraculous results overnight, because they're catering to our need for something immediate. The reality is that generally, these things don't work. They're extreme, and they're unsustainable. So either they're too much, and they end up demotivating us, or we do them for a week and stop.

So, how do we quench our thirst for instant progress? 

There are lots of ways out there. One of our personal favourites is to break progress down into littler steps; still aim high, and still keep a lofty goal in the front of your mind. But rather than strive for weeks, months and years for that goal without an end in sight, add in milestones, no matter how small. A goal to improve your run time by 10 seconds is much closer than a goal to win Wimbledon, and will go a long way in inspiring you to keep going. 

The other thing to realise is that progress isn't straightforward. It doesn't move as the crow flies; it's like a scatter graph. So while you may experience setbacks, and times when you feel like giving up, remember: it's not about how many highs and lows you have... it's about making sure there's an upward trend. 

To summarise: 

  • Change is hard, but it's easier than the regret of not changing.
  • Meaningful progress isn't instant
  • Progress doesn't move in a straight line

If you've got a good way of dealing with discipline or motivation, let us know over on Facebook or Twitter. Prizes and mentions to the most helpful contributions!

Thanks for reading,