There was a discussion recently regarding how to inspire and maintain the motivation to work toward your goals versus creating discipline within yourself to work no matter how you’re feeling that moment. While I appreciate the idea of just being a rock-solid, unflappably disciplined person, I feel like whenever I try to go that route I end up creating half-assed shoddy work and resentment toward that goal.
Take weight-loss for example. On the one hand, I’ve been trying to use discipline to create the habit of going to the gym 5 or 6 times a week. Sometimes that means I go when I really, really don’t want to exercise and just walk for 30 minutes on the treadmill, because a half-assed workout is better than no workout at all. On the other hand, I try to inspire motivation within myself by making a Pinterest board filled with clothing that I want to wear which are only available in the next size down. I distract myself from the process of running by creating upbeat playlists and picturing myself as a dancer/lead singer/guitarist/drummer for the song I’m listening to, which pushes me to run faster and work harder.
Motivation is a way to trick myself into working harder and feeling good about it, whereas discipline is a way of forcing myself to do a task even if it’s not done well. Motivation leads to me creating and working on side projects that I’m passionate about. Discipline leads to me brushing my teeth every day and folding the clean laundry before it wrinkles.
I guess I need both to reach my goals, but motivation always seems like the harder one to nurture. How do you inspire motivation to work toward a goal?
Here’s what has worked for me so far:
- Write down why you want to achieve your goals and review it everyday, not just when you’re losing steam. Example: I want to improve my health so that I can take fewer pills each morning. I want to write another chapter because it’s important to me that this story is told.
- Figure out how to associate something you like to do with something you need to do. Example: I love to dance and sing so I will lip sync to my karaoke playlist while I’m running and maybe try a Zumba class. I will drink a special chai tea only when I sit down to write.
- Know that even baby steps are still steps in the right direction. Take it easy on yourself and don’t worry if the motivation doesn’t come to you. Example: Today I’ll just take a little walk to clear my head instead of really pushing myself to burn a certain number of calories. I will revise and edit my writing, and maybe add a sentence or two.
- Celebrate how far I’ve come and try to treat myself so that I associate hard work with positive rewards.
I’d love to hear what motivates you and how you achieve your goals! Let me know!