So, when I started my twelve months of goals, I also thought it could start a new habit for me where every Monday, I discuss my progress so far for the month and figure out new goals for the week. Unfortunately, it seems that I’ve already failed at that – I started writing this post on the plane Monday morning, but then Monday was crazy and I didn’t get to finish. And then Tuesday was similarly busy. So here it is Wednesday and I’m still trying to crank it out. Guess there’s some room for improvement there!
The good news is, I started the month by identifying a method for scheduling my day, and it’s proved to be really quick and effective – I love it! Forcing myself to schedule my to-dos also forces me to take a breath when I’m swamped in order to plan the best use of my time. That’s a lot better than just diving in and then getting a bunch of stuff done that actually wasn’t all that high priority.
Unfortunately, the bad news is that I learned that when I’m not motivated, I’m just not motivated. There were a few times where even knowing what I *should* be doing wasn’t enough to get me to do it. As a result, I ended up staying at the office super late one night last week solely due to my lack of motivation, even though my workload was actually reasonable. Boom – there’s my punishment! On the days when I ignored my scheduled to-do list and picked something else to work on instead of whatever I “scheduled”, I got a lot less done – even if I was still doing things on my list. It seems that once I went off the schedule, it was really easy to keep going off the schedule and tell myself that I didn’t have to stick to it, and I think that was my biggest mistake. Any plan is only worth your adherence to it, right?
On that note, I read a great blog post this week about motivation vs discipline. Danielle at the T-Rex Runner wrote about how motivation can be fleeting and hard to control. One minute you’re motivated, and the next minute you’re not, and while you can certainly “fake it till you make it”, it’s hard to truly manufacture motivation that makes you want to do something. But discipline, on the other hand, is something you can readily control.
Want to be disciplined? Then just tell yourself: I am the type of person who does X. I am the type of person who runs every morning, no matter what. I am the type of person who always picks the healthy option on the menu. I am the type of person who always follows a schedule. And then do that thing, until you’ve made yourself into that kind of person. You aren’t born “the type of person” who; you become that by being disciplined. And Danielle makes a great point that motivation is waiting to get inspired to do something; discipline is doing something whether you want to or not.
So I think what I need to apply to myself is a bit of discipline in following my to-do list, rather than relying on motivation. If it’s 5:30pm and my to-do list says I’m supposed to be working on submitting my expenses but I don’t feel like doing that and I’d rather be booking my business travel? Too bad, Laura – the point of scheduling is so that I stick to it and don’t question it. Better planning next time!
Of course, you can’t plan for everything and I need to somehow be somewhat flexible. But with this scheduling of my to-do list, I need to get in a more consistent habit of doing what I set out to do and only changing it if there is something outside my control causing me to do so.
A lot easier said than done…