Want to achieve your goals in 2019? Then don’t rely on motivation – embrace discipline! - Jill Annear

With the first month of 2019 almost at an end, how are you tracking with those new year goals you set for yourself? Are you able to confidently say “I’m on my way!” or is it more like “Well, you see, umm, I’ve hit a few speed bumps….”?

If you’re in the second category, then chances are it’s not that you’re lacking motivation, more a case of not having set up the routines and habits that will provide you with forward momentum.

In other words, you need to learn discipline.

Now don’t misunderstand. Being motivated to achieve a goal is important, in fact it’s motivation that provides the ‘why’. It’s what makes us really ‘want’ to achieve something. However simply wanting to do something versus actually doing it – well, they aren’t necessarily the same thing. So let’s compare motivation and discipline, and see how the two actually need to work together.

Firstly, motivation can be quite fleeting. Ever been to a seminar, listened to a great speaker, or just been in the company of ‘can-do’ people – and walked away feeling incredibly motivated to make changes? Yep – we’ve all been there! However not too soon after, ‘life’ seems to get in the way of actually making those changes. You see ‘motivation’ is very much about an emotional response. We need to recognise that motivation isn’t a practical response.

If you’re already someone who is prone to a little procrastination (which is probably most of us, let’s face it), then waiting for your ‘motivation’ to peak, is the first big trap you’ve fallen into. If you think you need to feel like going for that walk, making that healthy dinner, or just attacking the ‘thing’ you know you need to do – then you’re in trouble. If action is conditional upon feelings, waiting for the right mood to strike could see you wondering where the last month has gone! Put simply, you don’t wait until you’re in Olympic form to start training, you start training to get into Olympic form!

You don’t need positive THINKING – you need positive DOING!

When we hear the word ‘discipline’ many of us have a negative response. We tend to see discipline as being forced to do something that we don’t feel like doing. Aha! There you have it. Waiting to feel like doing something that is actually a change from the way we have been living – well, it’s never going to happen. There’s a reason we weren’t doing it before – because we didn’t feel like it! So don’t live in a vicious cycle, instead, choose to create a virtuous cycle.

You can create a virtuous cycle by setting up routines that are directly aligned to your goals and habits which will have genuine impact. Let’s take the simple goal of wanting to exercise daily. If that’s a commitment that you really want to stick to, then what routines can you set up to make that happen? For example, if your daily exercise plan is a morning walk, then as soon as you get up, put on your walking clothes. That act alone, will get you much closer to heading out the door. If you plan to go to a gym, pack your gym bag the night before and put it in your car. 

Creating these sort of simple routines helps to eliminate ‘decision’ points. The less decisions you have to make, the fewer points of friction. Or framed in a more positive way, the more likely you are to create habits that help! Just as brushing your teeth is a routine that we all complete without too much thought, you can develop your own routines that help to create momentum and move you forward. You cultivate discipline by building daily habits. It’s OK to start small, you don’t have to make a giant leap on day one, just focus on building your virtuous cycle.

Discipline isn’t being forced to do things you don’t like, it’s choosing to do the things that are in your best interests.

We all have things we want to achieve – getting into better shape, building a successful business, raising a wonderful family, writing a book, winning an award, and so on. Whatever goals you may have set for 2019, I recommend putting self-care somewhere on your list – if not at the top of your list! Make spending time on you, the first virtuous cycle that you create – and it’s sure to serve you well in every area of your life.