Things are difficult. That thing could be anything, actually getting your ass to the gym in the mornings, starting that side project that's definitely going to change the world, writing your future bestselling novel, or just writing your first blog post ahem. You might find yourself saying that you “just don't have the motivation” to work on it. You might end up telling yourself that you'll “do it when you're more motivated”. This is a dangerous thought pattern to have.
Motivation is not good for you, it operates on the assumption that a certain mental state is required in order for you to fulfill a task, it gives you a boost of self confidence that disappears far too quickly, and is far too difficult to maintain. The motivational quotes that litter all of our Facebook feeds are also full of rubbish, more often than not they compare two completely different things and try to force some bullshit symbolism out of it.
The only thing that you actually need to accomplish your goals is discipline. But discipline isn't easy. Discipline doesn't just come to you one morning, you don't read a discipline quote on twitter and then go and finally tidy your kitchen. Discipline is cultivated through habits, and habits take time.
I also want to clear up some additional bullshit. Habits don't take 21 days to form. The origin of that myth comes from a book called Psycho-Cybernetics published in 1960 by Dr. Maxwell Maltz. The exact quote is as follows
These, and many other commonly observed phenomena, tend to show that it requires a minimum of about 21 days for an old mental image to dissolve and a new one to gel.
This simple situational observation has transformed over the last 60 years to be recognised as fact. Which it simply isn't. Actual research has shown that habits take anywhere from 18 to 254 days to form with an average of 66 days for a new behaviour to become automatic.
So, you need habits to form discipline but you need discipline to form habits? Isn't that a catch 22? Yes, and also no. I'm going to refer to the very first thing I said in this article. Things are difficult. Success isn't easy, if it was then everyone would be succesful. But success isn't unreachable, you might not be there yet, I know I'm certainly not. But by cultivating discipline and acquiring healthy habits I can be, and so can you.
Stop investing in hacks⌗
I don't know how to stress this enough, so I'm going to get all emoji preacher on this shit 👏HACKS👏DO👏NOT👏WORK👏. No matter what it is, these “get X quick” schemes are full of shit.
If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Get rich quick schemes don't work, you don't actually believe that some Nigerian Prince wants to give you $10,000,000 so why do you believe that just eating organic individually selected off cuts of brocolli will make you lose weight? I mean, in that example it definitely will make you lose weight, but you'd have all manner of nutrient deficiences I definitely wouldn't recommend it.
The point I'm trying to make here is that if you spend the same amount of time investing in yourself building habits as you do trying all of these ‘lifehacks’ then you would be a lot further along the journey to your goals.
I'm a victim of this, I've tried a lot of different things to lose weight, but the only thing that's actually worked? Eating healthily (more on this in a future article) and going to the gym (more on that one too). I'm nowhere near my goal weight yet, but I'm a hell of a lot closer than I've ever gotten before.
2 day rule⌗
This ones a doozy that I got from watching Matt D'Avella. Never let yourself have two days off in a row. You can have one day off, you can have multiple days off in a week, but you can never, ever have two days off in a row.
It's surprising how well this works, one trick for sticking to this is to physically mark a calendar on the days you do something - you know those big giant X's that no-one actually does because no-one actually has a physical calendar? Get one, and do it.
5 second rule⌗
This is another one I stole from Matt D'Avella. There will be a lot of that here. But it's very simple, and pretty self explanatory.
Do you need to do something, and you're not quite in the mood to do it? Count down.
5 4 3 2 1
Then just fucking do it. It's both easier and harder than it sounds.
I'm slightly hypocritical writing this, I haven't yet perfected my habits, my discipline isn't quite there yet, I often slip up. But that's ok, it's still progress, mistakes happen.
Just stick to it, and we'll get there.