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Focus, Motivation and Discipline Oh My!

Updated: Oct 4, 2019

We’re not all naturally self-motivated. And even the people who are self-motivated, are not that way all the time. (Netflix binge, anyone?) So when we’re in that “I just don’t want to!!” slump, we’ve got to think about how we can motivate ourselves - and others - to get the job done.

To stay accountable to your goals, it takes a combination of focus, motivation and disciple. And it’s very important to know yourself.

Know what’s important to you and stay focused on it. Do you have a 5- or 10-year vision? Are you clear on your purpose, your why? Write it down. Keep it close. Affirm it every day by writing it again. Feel the gratitude as if you’re already there. This tricks your brain into sending signals that you are already there, so the actions you take are easier. You’re not resisting the activities that it takes to get there.

Last week we wrote about GRIT and how important it is to know yourself, your strengths, your limitations, your passions, your motivators, your stressors. Are you more social and like to collaborate, or do you prefer to go it alone? DiSC® is a great tool to understand yourself a bit more and will provide you some of that insight that will help you stay focused and motivated.

Here are some of the ways our team finds focus and motivation:We recommend an Accountabilibuddy! Not the kind coined in Southpark, “the name for a buddy you love so much, that you hold yourself accountable for his well-being.” Almost opposite. Find someone to hold you accountable. Having someone to work with, talk with, and show up for can be a great motivator. Find someone that you trust, someone that will be candid with you and has your best interest at heart.  My best accountability partners have been people who hold me accountable and I do the same for them.

Know where your own motivation comes from. Your motivation comes either from inside of you (intrinsic) or outside of you (extrinsic). For example, if I exercise to feel more energized and happy, that’s intrinsic. If I exercise only to look better, that’s extrinsic. Don’t get me wrong, extrinsic motivation has its value. It’s important to have a bit of both. In my experience, those who are more intrinsically motivated are more likely to stay on course and reach their goals and feel more fulfilled.

This is why it’s important to have a purpose. Intrinsic motivation is very closely tied to your values and your self-worth. Extrinsic motivation doesn’t have to be, and can actually ruin intrinsic motivation at times. You may have heard the story of the man who was irritated by the kids who played in the empty lot next door. He decided to think of a way to get them to not play there. So he paid them to play. He asked them if they’d like $5 each for playing there. They all thought he was crazy, but of course, said yes. So for a few days, he paid them each $5. Then he told them he was really sorry, but he only could pay them $1 each. They grumbled a little but said ok, and still showed up to play. After a few days, the man told them he was very sorry but he couldn’t pay them anymore. The kids were upset and said they didn’t want to play in the stinkin’ lot anymore. Ironically sometimes we can lose sight of our internal motivation due to something external! And sometimes we’re just not going to feel motivated, right? There are times that we just need some good old-fashioned discipline. Discipline is doing it even when you don’t feel like it. It’s making that tough choice to get up early and exercise rather than caving and going out late with your friends. It’s being accountable to what we really want for ourselves, long term.

If we build habits, it makes it easier to stay disciplined when we just can’t seem to muster up that motivation. The dictionary defines a habit as a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up. And it goes on to use it in the context of a bad habit. But think about it. If you take regular and consistent action, your brain and body will be trained and it will be hard to give up.

A good system can keep your goals and activities top of mind. If we write down our long-term vision and we know our purpose, we can look at this to remind ourselves of why we are doing this to begin with. We can consider what habits are going to be important to form, and maybe we’ll need to break some too. Aligning each morning and evening with your calendar, list, spreadsheet and/or task system keeps you on track.

​Know yourself and what works best for you.

In my next webinar, we’re talking about How to NAIL Your Goals - With GRIT. I’ll address the challenges faced when working toward your goals (like that Netflix binge we mentioned) and how you can use the GRIT model to overcome them. We answer questions LIVE in that webinar, so if you’ve got a particular roadblock ahead of you with your goals, hit me with your challenge and we’ll work together to help you overcome it!

Cheers! Laurie

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