“I wish I had your motivation”, a phrase commonly heard by people in admiration of others who push themselves more often than the average human. Motivation may propel you temporarily toward a goal with a strong reward, however, most goals are actually short term goals. The problem lies in sustainment. Some of us, including myself, struggle to find this illusive “motivation” when we are months or years into a project, the novelty of the task fades, and the end result is too far away for us to realize the efforts of daily input. “Maybe I can take today a bit easier today?”, because what’s one day in the grand scheme of it all anyways?
Scientifically, motivation is linked to dopamine, commonly referred to as the “motivating chemical” in the brain and is tied closely to our innate reward pathway. This is excellent and does indeed help drive positive behavior in human beings. If I complete A+B I will be rewarded with C. What if there isn’t any apparent reward? What if there are no camera flashes or horns at the finish line? What if no one gives a fuck if you succeed or not, no pats on the back or compliments await you when you finish. Most of the time the finish line for us is a dark corner of an unlit room. No one knows or cares we’re there. It’s lonely at the top.
This is when we must draw on discipline. Discipline is the act of doing what you know you need to do especially when you don’t want to do it. Discipline looks like not snoozing the alarm. Discipline looks like putting the phone down and picking up a book for the last few minutes in the evening. Discipline is saying no to every single choice or opportunity that doesn’t move the needle towards self-improvement. Discipline is composed of those little habits, those small moments of choosing progress over complacency, adversity over comfort. You start small, by handling that bill on the counter that keeps getting ignored, by dusting off those weights in the corner of the garage. Do one thing today that you know you should do, continue that every day until you don’t even have to think about it then add another thing. Let them become habits and watch your life improve. Motivation is fraudulent, discipline is key. We can all achieve our dreams with one constructive choice at a time. Get uncomfortable and get to work.
UDC Wellness Expert, Brandon Deemo