We’ve all been barked at for years that being motivated is crucial for success. But is it? Have we ever stopped to consider if motivation is actually leading to accomplishment? Are we more focused on being motivated to do something rather than just doing it? Insert this thought: discipline is exponentially more valuable than motivation.
Don’t give in to the lie that you must feel inspired in order to achieve. Webster’s defines discipline as training oneself to do something in a controlled and habitual way. You only need three things to be disciplined: a plan, consistency, and execution.
Is being excited and ready to crush the day meaningful? For sure!
Can it make you feel invigorated and want to conquer the world? Definitely!
Is life more enjoyable living with positive energy and passion? Without a doubt.
But does it create value-add and shift you closer to your goals? Unfortunately not.
In the words of David Goggins, “Don’t expect to be motivated every day to get out there and make things happen. You won’t be. Don’t count on motivation. Count on discipline.”
Years ago, I set a goal to start going to the gym at 5:30am. FIVE. THIRTY. A M. The girl who would sleep until at least 8am and be at work by 8:30—shoutout out to public accounting flex hours! I kept reading how amazing people felt after working out that early and how their days started more productive or so they said. It took me two months to figure out which gym I wanted to go to, a few weeks to actually sign up, which turned into weeks upon weeks of going to 3 night classes a week but gradually lost steam turning into no classes at all. I kicked myself for paying for a gym I wasn’t attending.
However, fast forward to wrapping up 2022, I am a routine member of the 5:30am class at my gym Monday through Friday.
So what changed? My mindset did. Watching gym junkies on social media gloat about their fitness routines or posting their 95 separate ab muscles wasn’t getting me in that gym. Realizing that what I needed was just discipline. It’s a simple decision. Just show up. It didn’t matter if I wanted to be there or not. It didn’t matter if I wanted to hit snooze on my 5am alarm. What mattered is that I had goals, I knew how to achieve them, and I did what had to be done to get there.
How many times in life do we have minimal control on how things play out? One thing we have complete control over is understanding what our bodies and minds are capable of and making no excuses in trudging our way through our goals.
And further, how can we use discipline to accelerate our careers? At SHR, we are big believers in planning your day in advance and coming in each day ready to dive right in. Those thirty extra minutes spent on a Tuesday at 4pm (rather than heading home because the sun is already setting because it’s winter—sigh!) to establish which candidates you’ll connect with the next morning will quickly pay off and set up your Wednesday for success. My color-coded Outlook calendar with a million events and reminders is also crucial.
· Outlook tip of the day: you can set a preview of your calendar to show on the Mail tab via your settings so you can see your inbox and calendar simultaneously.
· And if you’re anything like me, post-it notes are LIFE. I keep track of my daily tasks by writing everything down so I can visibly see what I need to get done. Then I have a ton of sticky notes scattered around my desk, so once I complete my tasks, I rip the sticky notes off my desk and trash ‘em which is super fulfilling to see them dwindle down!
I made a system that works for me, and I simply do it rather than waiting to feel like doing it.
Do I sometimes realize I need to make changes for better efficiency? Sure! But whatever system I have established, I stick to it no matter my mood because I have chosen to be disciplined.
I still wake up some days and have no desire to peel myself out of bed before the sun has come up or before a single bird has even chirped. Even worse, I pay a $20 fee every time I miss a class and oversleep which is more often than I care to admit. I’m human. So while I don’t always get it right, I do want to thrive as my best self physically, mentally, and emotionally. And because for me that means getting my workout in at 5:30 every morning, I will continue to do so whether I want to be there or not.
The conclusion: discipline > motivation. Decide what allows you to be your best self and just try it—you’ll be a better and prouder person because YOU control you! That I can guarantee.