Soon it will be the beginning of a new year, and everyone will be setting goals they want to achieve during 2015. Health clubs everywhere will be overrun with new people looking to join, and existing members that haven’t found their way through the doors in months.
January 1st is a line in the sand that provides us with a fresh start, and the motivation to take a run at losing a little weight, and getting in better physical condition. By the end of month, however, the club will look much like it did in December.
Why? What’s the difference between how we feel at the beginning of the year, and our lack of follow-through shortly after?
Motivation is Fleeting
We stop working towards a goal because we lose our motivation.
My son went through this exact scenario recently. Being a teenager, he is becoming increasingly conscious about how he looks. He’s a slim young man, and expressed a desire to come with me to the gym to lift weights in hopes of adding some muscle to his frame. I began scheduling my weight lifting sessions around his school day and activities.
At times, I could see he wasn’t thrilled about going. I wouldn’t give him the option of not going, I would simply come home from work and tell him to throw on his gym clothes. Last week, however, he was abnormally resistant to going. When I asked if he no longer wanted to life weights with me, he indicated he would like to take a break. I left it at that, and went to the gym on my own.
A few days later, he surprised me by asking me when his next opportunity would be to lift weights with me. The next day, as we drove to the gym we had a conversation about the difference between motivation and discipline.
Motivation is fleeting emotion, and emotions are likely to change without notice. Some days you’ll feel like working out for hours, some days you might just feel like flopping on the couch and eating an entire bag of potato chips.
In order to achieve goals, however, motivation just simply isn’t enough. You have put aside how you feel, and rely on discipline instead.
Goals Needs Discipline
To achieve a goal, what you really need is discipline. Discipline is what gets me out of bed at 4:15am to go for my training runs in the dark cold of winter. It is what drives me to go to the gym, and do my designated workout for that day regardless of what I feel like.
Simply put, discipline is not giving yourself a choice. Discipline is the realization that no matter how difficult it may seem at the time, whatever action you are trying to take is necessary to achieve your goal.
Discipline is what I need to pay off $109,000 of debt. It’s impossible to stay motivated 100% of the time, especially when your goal is nowhere in sight. I made the right spending decisions, had difficult budget discussions with my wife, and sacrificed even when every bone in my body was screaming for me to take the easy way out.
View Goals as a Way of Life
True discipline means ingraining the achievement of a goal into your way of life. I told my son I was proud of him. He missed a workout, and realized that he was about to start down a slippery slope that would undo all the hard work he had put in.
He knew that when he resumed he’d likely have to start all over working towards his goal of being in better shape. He had achieved discipline, and in doing discovered the key to achieving everything he wanted out of life.
Instead of viewing your goal as a short-term change in habits, (that you can quit once you reach your target) think of them as long-term habits you’re creating for the rest of your life. You don’t only want to be fit and healthy for the next few months, right?
You don’t just want to spend better right now? Or find more ways to save money only this year, right? So don’t create a short-term resolution this New Year — create new habits for life!
How do you find the discipline to stay on track with your goals? What’s one way you inspire yourself to keep moving forward?