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Discipline Will Take You to Places Where Motivation Can’t. 

THAT is where the “ganas” (aka: desire) is, as Edward James Olmos so put it in “Stand And Deliver” when he portrayed East Los Angeles mathematics teacher, the late Jaime Escalante. An Educator who took a group of raucous students and immersed them in higher mathematics and through unorthodox methods got individuals looked upon by society and the administration at Garfield HS as underachievers to pass the AP Calculus exam.

We all have different goals that we might want to accomplish in our lives. Accomplishing these goals can play a very important role in contributing to our personal happiness and feelings of success and even self-validation and purpose.

We can set either big or small goals for ourselves and they can relate to anything and everything, from our weight to our finances, our relationships with others, our plans for the future and our personal daily habits.

Straight up, toward the end of every year, millions of people get inspired to set goals for themselves to work toward achieving in the next 365 days to come… Be it in the new calendar year or your chronological one as you blow out the candles on your birthday “tres leches.”

Each of us has at least one area in our lives that we surely hope to see some sort of change or improvement in. And it’s not likely that we are going to feel satisfied in our lives if we feel that we have plateaued. We might have goals to start our own business someday, to be promoted to upper management at our current place of employment, to get married, have a baby, save for retirement, have our own home, become more self-sufficient, gain more friends, eat healthier, get a daily fitness routine in place, apply to our dream school, perhaps travel more or just explore new local places, to mastermind something that can improve the lives of many, like starting a non-profit or hosting a podcast that discusses subjects that have been considered taboo by society for far too long and finally be a voice for the voiceless.

Setting goals is the easy part. And some individuals seem to have a much easier time going about achieving their goals than many others do. I used to think that motivation was the key factor when it came to accomplishing goals and achieving success in a number of different areas in life. And we could easily be motivated by a desire to look better, feel better, or to enjoy a higher standard of living in life than we currently do…

However, motivation doesn’t last forever, and it’s not motivation that is going to get you up when you don’t feel like getting up to work toward achieving that prized goal. If you are going to rely on motivation to inspire you to work hard at something daily until you achieve it, then you might find that quite frequently motivation has you falling short. No number of Dr Wayne Dyer audiobooks, Alexander Hicks videos and Tony Robbins seminars are going to reprogram you to achieve that 180 that you desire in life. And don’t get me started on self-improvement programs.

When we imagine some end goal we have in mind for our lives, we might not always be able to rely on that motivation to stimulate our effort on a continual basis for an extended period of time; that’s where self-discipline comes in. Self-discipline is what is going to help us to make the decision to resist daily temptation that might prevent us from moving toward achieving our goal

It takes strength to exercise self-control and so it’s not the easy choice to make.

We have become so accustomed these days to instant gratification that it has no doubt contributed greatly to the erosion of self-discipline for many. For those who appear to be more seasoned in exercising self-control, they have frequently suggested that the only way for a person to improve their self-control and self-discipline is to do it on purpose, be intentional about it, and be dedicated to doing it repeatedly. Know and accept that it isn’t going to be easy, but it might get easier for you to continually make that right decision over time, the more often that you choose to do it. As my friend Gina and her husband say, “Do consistent, mostly ordinary behavior over time until it becomes a habit and combine that with other good habits.” It’s a domino effect. Keep at it and you will see the results. It will become a part of you.

When it comes to the task of trying to strengthen and improve our own self-control, a variety of suggestions have been made as to how to go about climbing that mountain. First, we should know that our self-discipline can be improved upon, we need to clearly think about what we want to control or stay away from (prioritize), make a plan to stick to, get more sleep, try to remove temptations from our lives, reward ourselves for small accomplishments, and more. It’s up to the individual to find out what is going to work best for them and to then put that into action.  In a world full of motivational tips, resources and how-to’s at our fingertips, it seems clear that motivation alone is not enough to bring success and achieve goals.

Choose Discipline Over Motivation.

Motivation is a feeling, but discipline is an action. Motivation is the starting point. It stirs up emotions, ideas, inspiration and excitement, which are great and important things!… but some people stop there. We disqualify ourselves when we think “I just need to get motivated…” Amigas, it requires more.

In order to succeed in any area, we should progress from motivated feelings to disciplined actions. If I could sum up self-discipline in my own words, here it is: Self-discipline is a series of consistent habits or routines, diligently applied and continued long after the initial motivated feelings have simmered down.

So Why Choose Discipline Over Motivation?

  • Motivation produces emotion, but discipline produces results.
  • Motivation is temporary, but discipline perseveres.
  • Motivation fades after time, but discipline grows after time.
  • Motivation is an event, but discipline is a lifestyle.
  • Motivation starts the project, but discipline finishes it.
  • Motivation sets the goal, but discipline works to accomplishment.

Don’t get me wrong, I receive motivation during the week through various avenues (podcasts, books, teachings, mentors and quotes on social media), and my mind races with exciting ideas! I’m constantly getting motivated. But then it’s gone. The excitement fizzles when “life” gets in the way. It is only by learning the art of transitioning the motivated feelings into regular, disciplined actions through weekly routines that results can truly be achieved.

‘Busy-ness’ and ‘lack-of-time’ were (and are) my excuses. Hey, I am a work in progress working on progression too! I became increasingly frustrated that my dreams and projects didn’t happen on their own (funny that!). Years are passing us by. As my aunt, the most knowledgeable “brujita” says: Los años no pasan de balde” (Translation: The years do not pass unnoticed…) She has a very blunt and sometimes vulgar way of expressing herself when dispensing pearls of wisdom and always finishes by saying, “haber si haci se les queda en la cabeza y se les quita lo pendeja…” She feels that if she sugarcoats things, it goes in through one ear and out the other.  We need to stop making excuses. We are not victims. We cannot play that hand forever. Look at the daughters of “campesinos” , you’ve seen the pictures, standing proudly in the fields next to their farmworker parents in their caps and gowns with a full ride to college. That accomplishment was motivation fueled by desire and discipline. Not prayer. Not mantras. Not lighting “veladoras” hard- working parents who have sacrificed it all that resulted in their changing the narrative. It isn’t predestined. We write our destinies every single day. It’s a choice.

We need to start taking more responsibility for our own dreams. I realize now that this whole time, I needed more than just motivation. Let’s choose discipline over motivation. Baby steps.

Let’s be encouraged. Remaining disciplined through daily routines and habits might seem mundane, but each day you are progressing one step further and further. You’ll surprise yourself, because once you apply discipline to one area, it organically spreads and transfers to other areas of your life.

What areas do you need to shift from motivation to discipline?