No Motivation? How About Some Discipline Instead

One of the biggest complaints of people implementing a workout program to improve their heath is that they lack motivation. I hear this all the time. “I am not motivated to work out,” or, for those that personally know me, “I wish I could be as motivated as you.” The truth is sometimes I am motivated, but more often than not I am just like everyone else, fighting the battle in my mind to find motivation and take action.

Motivation is funny. It’s usually not something that you “find,” despite all of the inquiries as to where it might be hiding. You’re not going to go out, turn over a rock, and find motivation cowering underneath. Instead motivation, much like energy, is manufactured. Sometimes it is created easily, without much thought or effort. I love those days. Other days though, it can be painfully difficult to manifest. In fact there are going to be days that you cannot create it at all, no matter how much you will it into existence. Don’t despair though, there is something far more powerful than motivation that you can cultivate in its place.

That thing is discipline.

Discipline trumps motivations in almost every aspect.  When you have discipline you act no matter what. There’s no waiting around for the magical motivation fairy to come and sprinkle you with dust.  There is just you, honoring the contract you’ve made with yourself to do whatever it is that you said you were going to do.  You do the work because you said you were going to. No further argument or protestation needed. Nor should there be.

Yet self-discipline can be very difficult to cultivate for most people. We hate letting others down. If our boss, spouse, friends, or family ask something of us we usually do everything in our power to complete it and not let them down. We aim to please (others).

When we ask something of ourselves, however, we loosen the reins and let the excuses run rampant. Just this once easily becomes every single day, and before we know it we are even further away from what we set out to do. Although we break them so often, those self contracts are especially important, more so when it comes to your health. Part of developing discipline is formulating iron clad, non-negotiable contracts with yourself, and honoring them at all costs.

Most people avoid doing this because it seems selfish. I call B.S. on that though. You know how in the pre-flight blurb they tell you in the event of a crash to affix the oxygen mask to yourself before helping others out. Well your health is that oxygen mask. If you want to show up for the others around you and maximize your positive impact on their lives, you need to ensure that oxygen mask is firmly in place on your face first.

Developing this self discipline is not easy, but in the long run the benefits will be noticeable. Discipline paints things in black and white for you. Where there was once choice, there is now simply action. You do the work, no questions asked. You aren’t guided by impulse or emotion or self doubt. You just do. You act.

Getting to the point of action takes practice. You may hem and haw at first, while you are resetting your neural pathways. It may seem wrong (you want to help the child next to you with that oxygen mask), but only once you get used to the new action will it start to seem right. It simply takes time. The brain doesn’t rewire itself and form these new habits overnight. You can’t think or will these habits into place. It is much easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than to think yourself into a new way of acting. If you want to be a fit human being than act like it.

Even once these new habits are in place the ghosts of your old habits will beckon to you. The couch seems comfortable. Your bed on a cold morning is always enticing and does not want you to leave for a work out. Only you have the power to resist the call, and that power resides in your self discipline. It doesn’t mean you wake up all sunshine and rainbows every day. It doesn’t mean that you don’t struggle against these ghosts more often that not. It simply means that you have the power inside you to defeat them. You are strong. You are disciplined.

And that discipline wins out more often than not. One hundred percent success is near impossible, even for the most disciplined of individuals. It’s what we strive for though. It’s the ONLY thing to strive for. Even if you strive for perfection and fall a little short you’ll always end up pretty darn well off. Occasional slip ups happen. It’s part of life. Although they happen, the more important thing is to remember is how you reacted to them. Too often we use a slip up as an excuse, an excuse to permit future unwanted behavior. That one slip up can be the start of a downward spiral. That crack in self discipline is turned into a chasm that we ride down to the bottom.

Despite the crack you can’t allow your self discipline to waver. Acknowledge the crack, but let’s patch it up. The best way to do that is to move on and make the right choice at the very next opportunity. Allow yourself a little forgiveness, it happens, and keep moving forward. The next action, in line with your goals, will patch that crack right up and allow you to focus on the future, and not dwell on the past.

This is the magic of creating discipline, rather than having to rely on motivation to get you anywhere. You act and do, almost on autopilot because you’ve made that contract with yourself. You don’t dwell or worry about things you can’t control. You react to obstacles and devise strategies around them because you have to. There is no other choice. In time these actions and reactions become so ingrained in your psyche that you find that you have truly become the person you set out to be. You have acted yourself into a new state of being.

“With self-discipline all things are possible. Without it, even the simplest goal can seem like the impossible dream.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt

Remember that.  Anything is possible for you. No motivation needed.

Snatch Match Workout "Fun"isher
Sandbag and Lunge Jump Ladder "Fun"isher

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