Feeling Unmotivated? Decide to Live With Discipline

If you wait until you feel like it, you probably won't get much done.

Posted Mar 27, 2018

Stocksnap / Pixabay
Source: Stocksnap / Pixabay

Today I ran across an anonymous quote, which I ended up sharing on social media:

“You will never always be motivated. You have to learn to be disciplined.”

It’s ironic that I came across the quote while sitting on the bike at the gym. I hadn’t been to the gym more than a handful of times in the last four months. A few weeks before Christmas, I caught a bad cold virus and was sick on and off for a couple of months, leaving me worn out. Prior to that I’d been working out frequently for over a year, but the illness broke that habit. It has been so hard to get back into the discipline of going to the gym. Shockingly hard, actually.

The only reason I was at the gym today was because a flamenco dance class was unexpectedly rescheduled and I had been looking forward to that physical activity. There I was, all dressed up in my workout clothes and nowhere to go. I have been thinking about and bemoaning the loss of my gym habit (and how hard it has been to find time to go), so I decided to seize the opportunity and march myself to the gym.

It felt so good to be there. I’ve always enjoyed being there once I’m there. So why was it so hard to go? Why has it been so hard to get back in the habit?

Even though I know better than this, it seems I was waiting to feel motivated to go. During the period I’d been sick, and the recovery time afterward, the time slots I used to reserve for the gym filled up with sedentary habits such as reading or learning online. These came more naturally and took way less effort.

As I have observed and constantly teach, the things in life that are best for us do not usually come naturally. We have to push past resistance and obstacles to implement good habits and choices.

Don’t wait until you feel sufficiently “motivated”. That moment may never come.

If you know you need to do it, just do it. Make yourself do it. That itself is a discipline - forcing yourself to do what you need to do, even if you don't feel like it. You may never feel like it!

Sometimes it's as simple as just walking yourself over to your desk and sitting down to do something you've been putting off forever. For many writers, physically sitting down to write, and determinedly bypassing the distractions of email or the internet, is the hardest thing to do.

Today, my key action was getting myself out the door and to the gym. It worked. Next time, it will probably be easier. And even more so the next time.  Eventually it will be a habit again, hallelujah.

This weekend, I plan to sit myself down and finally pull out the boxes of receipts I've been putting off sorting through. If I get the receipts out, put them on my desk, and sit down in front of them, I will go through them. It's getting myself there physically and just starting that's the hardest  For me, that's the discipline.

Notice this pattern in your life.

What comes easily?

What is ridiculously hard to do? (But would be so worth it if you actually did it)

For each thing that you are procrastinating, what is the step you need to do that will help you to start and finally do it?

Sitting and eating junk food in front of Netflix is easy.

Getting your butt to the gym, making the effort to cook something healthy (and inexpensive) instead of getting pricey or unhealthy takeout, or finding time to sort through your finances, does not come easy.

It takes discipline.

Much of the time, you will not feel motivated to do “the right thing”, or the best thing.

It requires commitment and discipline and continual positive effort (in the face of all sorts of resistance) until something difficult yet good becomes a habit.

But oh, when you do, the rewards are great! Not to mention it feels great to know that you have become disciplined in a certain area, or various areas, of your life.

Where do you need to start? 

- copyright Dr. Susan Biali Haas, M.D. 2018