As the Olympics and Lent get underway and as I enter a new stage in my freelancing goals, I’ve been thinking a lot about motivation and discipline.
Olympians are the best in the world at what they do, and we know they all got there through hours and hours of practice, pushing through the pain and exercising even when they didn’t want to.
Lent, like the New Year – the first few days are great. You’re excited to challenge yourself to give up something for God. But a few days in, you don’t understand why on Earth you gave that thing up…and won’t God just forgive you anyways? It’s hard to keep up the initial momentum.
I’ve started working full time as a freelancer. I’m keeping an eye out for a job, but I’m also focusing on pursuing my own goals and building myself in this industry. But working as a freelancer means no one will be there to tell you to do this and that. You have to tell yourself what to do and hold yourself accountable to do just that. Waiting for motivation to strike before completing a task will result in very unhappy clients and an unsuccessful projects.
So what do you need in order to stay on top of all these things and achieve your goals with Olympic level dedication?
Here are 4 reasons why:
1. Creating Habits means you work on your goals without thinking about it
The reason habits are so powerful is because they are your default. They are what you do when your mind is on auto-pilot and when no one is watching. I’ve recently started exercising each morning, and yesterday I accidently slept in and didn’t have time to go to the gym. But my mind didn’t let me start my day until I got that exercise in. So I put on 30 minutes of Cassie Ho’s Blogilates and got my work out in anyways. Now this is just about a week into this habit, so it’s still in the formation stage, but I was super proud of myself that exercising was starting to feel like the natural state of my mornings.
Habits are what you do when your mind is on auto-pilot and when no one is watching.
2. Slow and Steady wins the race
Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, that’s what discipline is all about. That’s why the Tortoise beat the Hare. If you replace the hare’s cockiness with how we treat motivation – you can see just why the hare failed. How often do we say “Ugh, I don’t feel like it today, let me just work on something else. Tomorrow, I’ll feel more motivated and I’ll work on it.” That’s the same as the rabbit taking a break under the tree even though he was so close to the finish line. We should all be more like the tortoise; just keep putting one foot in front of the other, no matter what.
3. Motivation can fail you, discipline won’t
The truth about motivation, no matter how much you love something or how excited you are about it, there will simply be some days where you just AREN’T. There will be days where you are simply not in the mood to fast. Days where you are bone tired of going to the gym. Days where you just want to lay on the coach and catch up on Netflix. If you have been relying on motivation to write your articles, or work on your next skill – on a day like that, you simply won’t
4. Routine breeds more creativity
A lot of us in the creative field especially think that routine and discipline will keep us from having those bouts of inspiration and high intensity creativity that produces our ‘best’ work. And while there is a rush that comes from spontaneous and last minute things, that kind of behavior will not land you amongst the greatest.
This is something I’m still work on a lot myself so I’ve done some reading over the years about what makes a great writer. And even those who write creatively (fiction, poems, etc), don’t wait for inspiration to strike. They have a routine that forces them to write daily. They write when they aren’t in the mood. Even to beat writer’s block, you’re just supposed to start writing about anything, and before you know it, your mind starts racing with ideas for what you’re actually supposed to be working on. The point is, be disciplined in honing your craft, no matter what that craft might be.
be disciplined in honing your craft, no matter what that craft might be.
5. Discipline is the ONLY way to improve
Discipline is methodical and therefore lends itself to assessing and reassessing your progress. Spontaneous bouts of motivation and therefore work, simply won’t get you those results. If everyone who simply got excited about a great idea became successful, the world would be full of fabulously successful people. Someone who skates only when they are extremely excited about it will never be as good as someone who gets up every day at 5am and simply puts in the work.
Speaking of the Olympics, who else is SUPER excited about the awesome Nigerian women’s bobsled team? (This video gives me chills, and the driver/team leader even talks about the importance of discipline). You can watch their run from this morning here and see the current results here. But the medal heat is tomorrow.
Did anyone catch Simidele the other day? I applaud her for even making it to the Olympic stage. The non-sensical Punch Newspaper ran this headline: “Winter Games: Simidele Disappoints,” and they just have it all wrong. By representing Nigeria in the first place on such a big stage, she has already made the country so proud and has paved the way for other athletes after her. Let’s appreciate our heroes for their triumphs and trails.
What are your thoughts on discipline? Have you been able to get where you wanted with motivation alone? Would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. I’m always looking for ways to make myself more disciplined.