By Jeremy Reynolds
We have all been there. We see or hear something that lights a fire in our belly, and we are ready to take on the world. It could be a friend’s Instagram post, our new favorite book, an inspiring podcast, a scene from a Netflix documentary, or anything really…but when that switch flips, we make big plans to accomplish big goals. 5K? Consider it done. Half marathon? Let’s do it. Full Marathon? Nah…bring on the Ultra! Nothing is deterring us. No way. No how. Spending money on new gear makes perfect sense, because this thing is happening. We are wrecking balls swinging in to crush any obstacle in our way. We are an unstoppable force. We are Motivated!
And then the alarm clock goes off…
“What the hell was I thinking?”
Let me tell you why Motivation sucks. Motivation is like your drunk friend that talks a big talk, orders drinks for the bar all night, and then disappears at closing time and leaves you holding the bill. In running terms, Motivation is what gives us the courage to sign up for the race but is rarely there to support when it’s time to do the real work and prepare for it. I used to think it was my fault. That I should have been able to keep Motivation fresh and moving me forward. But I have come to learn that’s not the way it works. Motivation is a deadbeat. And he is scared of excuses. He is great at lighting a spark, but he is lazy and will vanish when things get hard. And that’s OK. Luckily there is another friend always standing by ready to help…that is if you have the courage to ask. That friend’s name is Discipline. And he eats excuses for breakfast.
Discipline is a different breed. He doesn’t care where we are heading. He is not interested in the “big picture” or the “grand vision” or how hard we need to work to get from here to there. He simply cares about what needs to be done next. Not what we “want” to do…but what we “should” do. That is his specialty. He is the one that pulls the covers off at 4 am when it’s cold and dark outside. He is the one that helps us lace up our shoes after work when everything inside is screaming to order a pizza and catch up on our favorite show. He is the one that pushes us to eat the healthy option when all our friends are sharing in the holiday leftovers. He will never force us. He simply shows us the way.
But there is one big problem with Discipline that can make it really hard to welcome him into our lives. The fact of the matter is that he can be a ruthless, merciless, cold-hearted SOB. We are so used to navigating decisions by how things make us feel, and he is having none of that. Our actions either take us closer to our goals, or they don’t. They are good for the long term, or they aren’t. He is truth. And he is not afraid to see us suffer now if we will benefit in the long run. Not because he is mean, but because he loves us. And knows our future selves will look back and be thankful.
Let’s not fool ourselves into believing we don’t know how to put Discipline to work. If you want to know where he stands, just ask him. We all do it. We come to a fork in the road and we already know the right way to go. Yet we waver. Because when we look at the first path, we see comfort. It beckons to us. If we are tired, we know it leads to rest. Or maybe we can hear the buzz of happy hour just around the bend. That new movie comes out tonight, right? Surely, we deserve to blow off some steam. What could it hurt? We look around for Motivation in hopes of guidance, but he hasn’t emerged from the shadows. Awesome. This makes it easy. Then we look to the other path and there stands Discipline. He is silent, but he is holding a sign that reads “This way to your Success.” Damn you, Discipline.
So, what will it be? Most of us will choose to continue blaming Motivation while we meander down the comfortable path. How can we be expected to do the necessary work to achieve our goals when we wake up and Motivation is nowhere to be found? And why would we cheat ourselves out of the instant gratification that is well within reach? Clearly, these are trick questions and Discipline has the answer: “Because you are worth more than that.” It’s simple. We all have an inner badass that is ready to break out. We are all capable of extraordinary things. It’s time to do the things we “should” do rather than only what we “want” to do. It’s time to smash excuses, capture goals, and become the person we were meant to be. It’s time to choose Discipline.