Just A Spark

I love the start of a new year. The collective resolve of many to set new goals. The ability to start fresh. Excitement over the possibility of change and improvement. It seems like a natural time to take stock of our lives and realign them. We are motivated. The problem with motivation, though, is that it's not enough on its own. It's just a spark.

While a spark is useful for getting things going, it won't last for long and it won't accomplish much on it's own. You have to keep adding fuel to the flame if you want to see it grow and make a difference. That fuel? Discipline. 

Many a gym are full of the motivated in January. In April, though, it's a sanctuary for the disciplined.

Jim Wendler said it this way: "Discipline always trumps motivation.  Motivation is about emotion and too many times, we rely on emotion to raise our performance.  Unfortunately, this can quickly wear you down... Discipline doesn't care how you feel, what the weather is or if you've had a bad day.  Discipline will carry the strong.  Discipline will drive success.  Discipline doesn't need a "hype" video or loud music. Discipline over motivation." 

Chris Moore in his book Barbell Buddha said it like this: "Setting big goals is the easiest thing in the world to do. It's also addicting. Yes, it's a gigantic rush that's followed by the alarm clock at 4:00 the next morning. And let's be honest here: many people quit as soon as reality sets in. They'd rather go back and just repeat the initial rush, this time with a brand new goal and the promise of magically sourced commitment. Nothing ever changes. But what's amazing is that a rhythm soon comes to the diligent."

Motivation comes in many forms. A new year. A sermon. A Ted Talk. The death of a loved one. A friend transforming their life. Seeing yourself in the mirror in a well lit room for the first time in a few months. The Rocky movies.

Motivation is powerful, but it is only useful if it is channeled into disciplines that turn into habits. Real transformation happens with small shifts done consistently over a long period of time. One quick example.

My wife was concerned that she was spending too much of her 'in-between' moments on social media. Motivated by a desire to use that time more constructively, she set a goal to read 52 books in 2016. In order to read 52 books in a year, she had to keep a pace of one book a week. She had to keep books on hand (lots of library trips), find books she would want to read (via "What Should I Read Next" podcast), and use her 'in-between' moments and many a night reading. She finished the year having read 58 books. Motivation led to a plan, plan led to a discipline, discipline led to results. She learned a ton and grew a lot. This is a habit she plans on continuing. Her discipline challenges and inspires me to try and keep up!

So it’s a new year. You’ve set some new goals with your health, your finances, how many books you want to read, whatever it may be. What specific disciplines are you going to add into your rhythm of life that will help you reach those goals? What are you willing to give up in order to reach those goals? (sleep, money, other hobbies, friendships) Do you have the guts and the grit to say those things out loud, put them down on paper, and get after it?