“Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.”

We are a few months into 2019, the holiday season feels like a distant memory, and summer is fast approaching.  At this point, our bright, shiny, and hopeful New Year resolutions have most likely faded away. The reality is even with the best intentions, many resolutions lose momentum and just like the holidays, soon become a distant memory. Why? Motivation alone is inherently fleeting and will not lead to long term success.

My stance on motivation is not meant to discourage, rather provide an alternative perspective and method on how you achieve your goals. There is nothing wrong with being enthusiastic and excited about your goals, but truthfully there needs to be a better foundation underlying your efforts. It’s a breeze to be motivated when life is good, stress is low, and everything seems to be falling into place. Yet, what happens when the hard times emerge and everything begins to crumble? Your motivation will likely be the first thing to go; as fast as it sparked into your life, the flame will be snuffed.  I know from experience that my motivation will wax and wane depending on my mood, circumstances, work, the weather, and whatever newest Netflix seriesis trending. Life is unpredictable, so you need a reliable skill to combat the chaotic day-to-day happenings. Thankfully it’s a skill anyone can develop; discipline.

Many people view discipline as something only exceptionally self-controlled and structured individuals possess, but how do you think they became that way? Were they blessed with bulletproof willpower and ironclad determination? Not likely. How does anybody get better at anything? They do it, over and over and over again. The more you repeat something, the easier it gets. Practice makes perfect, but I prefer the phrase practice strengthens habit. Discipline is a natural byproduct of purposeful repetition. Discipline can be thought of as a muscle, the more your work it, the stronger and more resilient it becomes.  Discipline is not fleeting, it’s trustworthy, and will stick with your through thick and thin. Whether your goal is to exercise regularly, eat a nutritious diet, better manage your stress, or become a ninja – rely on your hard-earned discipline, not motivation!

To strengthen your discipline muscle today, apply these 6 steps to your life and you’ll become a ninja (er um a healthier individual) in no time.

  1. Plan ahead. Failing to plan is planning to fail. If you do not have a clear outline in place, there is likely to be poor follow through. Write down your goal, brainstorm the steps you’ll need to take, gather materials needed, and schedule time to specifically devote to your goal. Hello Google calendar!
  2. Start SMALL. When I say small, I mean tremendously small, think baby steps! Slowly work up to your goal in increments; once you feel confident and are consistent in your micro-change, build upon that. Moving forward in a baby step fashion will make working toward your goal much less daunting and way more sustainable.
  3. Find an Accountabili-Buddy. Meaning a friend who desires to embark on a similar journey with you. Having someone that can encourage you during the tough times but also celebrate with you in your success is a real game changer. Empathy is a powerful emotion; it shows you are not going through this change (and challenge) alone. I am always in favor of both having and being a support system.
  4. Create a CAN DO list. Many of us currently have a TO DO list, but I prefer having a CAN DO list. This word swap allows some forgiveness, so if something does not get completed, there is no added pressure, stress, or sense of guilt. These negative emotions can potentially derail you. Your CAN DO list allows you to remain organized and reference your goal and action steps daily. Prioritize what you want to accomplish each week and pick one or two items to work on daily.
  5. Allow yourself to fail. Even after taking all the necessary steps to plan ahead, your journey will never be perfect. Why? Because you are not a robot, you are human. The road to success is largely trial and error. If you never fail along the way, there’s a good chance you’re not taking the necessary risks. Bonus – you will learn from your mistakes too, resulting in personal growth.
  6. Keep an open mind. Along your journey you will need to alter your approach. Continuously ask questions and reevaluate if what you are doing is moving you closer or farther away from your goal. If your daily actions (AKA baby steps) are not helping you progress forward, reroute and head down a new path. Remaining curious about the direction you are taking will also help you better understand why you are doing what you are doing and reinforce its importance to you.

Forget the resolutions and fleeting motivation this year; instead invest in a stronger discipline muscle and a better you!