Motivation can be fleeting. It can be on again, off again. Because of its inconsistent nature, motivation can’t be the only tool in your belt to keep you moving forward toward achieving your goals. Or your to-do list. Or even the one task presently at hand.
Let’s face it, we have all had days where we lacked motivation. But the difference between the average person and the serial achiever is the achiever’s ability to harness discipline when enthusiasm is low. Do you think Michael Phelps enjoyed every one of his grueling workouts on the way to his Olympic podium position? Was he super stoked at every one of his solitary multi-thousand yards in that pool? I never asked him, but I bet he was not. His success, just like mine or yours, or 99.9% of anyone in the world who has achieved, didn’t happen by accident. It was a result of intentional and disciplined effort.
Motivation may provide the seed to kick-start momentum, but discipline is the brute force that keeps the flywheel spinning and allows momentum to build and advance (or at the very least maintain velocity).
No doubt, some days will feel effortless, but others will feel like real work. Hard work. Some days, progress will be a game of inches gained while others will be a game of yards gained. But even a single inch forward is still an inch gained. Discipline ensures that you don’t lose ground on those difficult days and that you keep moving forward toward the finish line.
I consider myself to be a self-motivated individual but sometimes it’s not enough. Some days I find myself at a stalemate between the things on my to-do list and the inspiration I need to do the work to cross items off the list. Some days I reach into my bag of excitement and energy necessary to move me to action, but I simply come up empty. I just don’t have it in me. This is when discipline becomes my best friend. It allows me to soldier on. When the going gets tough, the disciplined keep going!
Today is one such tough day for yours truly. I have actually suffered from a lack of motivation all weekend. Yet, I remain disciplined. I force myself to sit at my desk to tackle that daunting to-do list. It is painful…yet fruitful at the same time. Through discipline, momentum defies inertia’s grab at me (Newton’s First Law of Motion states that objects in motion stay in motion unless acted upon by another force). This post is the last item on the weekend’s to-do list. Although every sentence I type feels forced and unnatural, I continue typing. Time has slowed to a crawl and it feels like I have been sitting at my computer for an eternity.
But…I did show up. I opened my writing program. I put my body where my mind had previously decided it needed to be to accomplish goals I had set in more motivated times. And now, I am only a few sentences away from completing the first draft of this post! Is it brilliant, inspired, earth-shaking, awesome? Maybe not. But it is done, and I have kept my commitment to myself. I will build on that tomorrow, and all the days that follow.
Discipline is the secret sauce to success. Motivation may help make the process more enjoyable and effortless, but discipline gets you over the finish line.
Sometimes progress is going to feel painful. It’s going to feel slow. Sometimes you’re going to have to go to war internally, fighting that part of yourself that wants to give up and give in. But when it is a grinding mud trudge rather than a carefree happy dance, remember to call on discipline and just do the work. Get it done. Your success depends on it!
– Gen Y Finance Guy