Do you ever experience one of those days where you wake up and you feel like you can achieve anything? You wake up early without your alarm. Your mind is alive and focused. Everything in life makes sense. You know exactly what you need to accomplish and the motivation is there to do so. Whether it is school, work, or home, you arrive with a super human like energy, ready to get your tasks done.
These are the days when accomplishing our goals feels easy and natural. We line up the tasks and knock them over one by one. Unfortunately, life also hands us days where we feel down and unmotivated to do anything. Eating healthier, going to the gym, and becoming a black belt all seem like impossible mountains to climb. We start to question our goals and make excuses.
“Why am I doing this?”
“I don’t know if I want this anymore?”
“Do I really want this?”
“I could save money if I quit now.”
Does this experience sound familiar to you? I know it does to me. We love to create big goals for ourselves but often fizzle out as time goes on. In the beginning the motivation is high because things are fun, exciting, and easy. But what do you do if you want to quit before reaching the goal?
Assess the goal and determine if it is something good for you. Something that adds positive value in your life. (Most goals tend to be). If the answer is yes, then that should give you a reason to continue on.
Did you make a firm commitment to yourself that you would accomplish the goal? If so, then you MUST continue on. We should have a relationship with ourselves built around respect, encouragement, and accountability. If not, the words we tell ourselves will become empty. If you tell yourself you are going to do something, you better do it. The last thing you want is to create a habit of constantly disrespecting yourself with lies and empty promises.
Try to think of something that is connected to the task that you enjoy. For example, is there a person you look forward to seeing in your class? Is there a move or technique that you are looking forward to practicing? Instead of thinking about the task as a whole, think about something small that can give you a spark to get up and act.
Try to focus on the one action that will help you move closer to performing the task that is connected to your goal. This could be putting on your uniform or simply getting in the car. When we focus on one thing at a time, it often helps us get moving and motivated to fulfill our commitments.
Lastly, stop thinking about the goal. When you measure where you are today compared to the goal, the large distance can make us feel defeated and helpless. Instead, measure your progress based on growth. Think about how much you have accomplished. Think about the positive moments you have experienced. Think about the progress you have made. Be proud of yourself. Don’t think about the goal, keep your head down, and take that next step.
Achieving goals that require long term commitment can feel impossible at times. Almost everyone will experience feelings of wanting to quit and do something different. It is important to understand that it is not just about achieving the goal. It is about building character and a positive habit where quitting is never an option. Discipline is not something you are born with. It is earned with daily habits that are repeated week after week, month after month, and year after year. Some days will feel easy while others will feel impossible. You just have to keep your head down and focus on getting through today. Check off that task. Cross off that chore. Check in for class. Don’t think about tomorrow. Respect yourself and continue on. You deserve it.
In a world where everyone—kids included—are being inundated with the call of instant gratification, we must teach them that delayed gratification is a more satisfying, character-building gratification.
Why a father of two and medical school student recently began his journey to black belt.