Around this time of year, you can look anywhere and see information on New Year’s resolutions and how to make them work. Our friends on facebook post their resolutions, Oprah will send you an article on how to make this year different, 20/20 will have a special on new years resolutions. We have all been there, and seen it, yet we still struggle to stick to a plan we made on December 31st. According to a Forbes magazine article written by Dan Diamond, he stated that only 8% of Americans achieve their new years resolution. Why only 8% when we have so many resources to help us be successful?
While I think it was a good article, I wanted to dive a little deeper than surface issues. First let me start by saying, I believe that most resolutions people set for themselves on the hours counting up to the next year can be accomplished. We can’t, however, gloss over the work that is necessary to get from point A (your current situation), to point B (your end goal). We also must realize that obstacles will arise along the journey, and while they can slow us down, they should not stop us completely.
Since I am in the health and fitness industry, I usually get the question “how can I lose 10/20/30lbs?” That question can be answered numerous ways, but regardless of my answer, it comes down to the dedication and willingness of that person to do things differently. If I create a step-by-step plan for them, will they stick to it for four, six, eight weeks? Motivation alone may not be enough to keep them on task; self discipline must be present to push you towards doing the things you don’t want to do.
Having only motivation is similar to keys that start a car with the gas light on. Yes, your car will start, but how far are we going to go before it is out of gas .Most people’s tank is not full from, nor will ever be full from just motivation. This is a here today, gone tomorrow type of feeling. Something you seen on television can motivate you, something someone said can motivate you, but will it keep you going? When you are motivated to lose 10, 20, or 30lbs, that first time someone offers you a donut or chips, it will be easy to say no. Once that motivation starts to wear off, maybe when you are not seeing the results quick enough, it is easy to go back to your old ways.
So, if motivation is the key to start the car, what keeps the car going? What is going to keep my goal of writing an article a month, and posting it to the blog? What is going to make you do jumping jacks during commercial breaks? To finish that book you put off? Self-discipline has to be the premium gas that keeps the car running if you want to knock down those personal goals. Self-discipline will get you up at 530am to work out when you feel like pressing the snooze button. Self-discipline will get you in the kitchen to prep your food for the next few days, instead of going out to eat. This is a skill I suggest you build if you want to keep the results once you reach your goal.
Over the next 365 days, and everyday after that, let self-discipline be the driving force that keeps you on the road to your personal goals. Every time you get up and workout when you don’t feel like it, you are building that self discipline muscle. Take those little steps to build this muscle, just as you would build your bicep. Each decision to do the necessary thing, against that of comfort and least resistance, will build that self-discipline muscle.
Motivation is defined by Merriam-Webster as the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way. The general desire or willingness of someone to do something. Synonyms; incentive, stimulus, inspiration, incitement.
Self discipline is defined by Merriam-Webster as the ability to control one’s feelings and overcome one’s weaknesses; The ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptations to abandon it. Synonyms : self-control; restraint, willpower, strong-mindedness. And its funny, because the sentence they put together to use the word in a sentence “he lacks the self-discipline to stick to an exercise program”.
This year let the motivation you feel now get you started towards whatever your goal is (losing weight, getting stronger, making better food choices). Once started, we have 365 opportunities to practice self-discipline and keep us moving towards it.
Attached is a good article on 11 steps towards Self-discipline by Phil Doret.