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How To Stay Disciplined When Your Motivation Dies Off

by Dhanishta. |

I think almost everyone is familiar with the feeling of staring at the ceiling from wherever you are, be it your bed, office chair, study table, or even at breakfast, while your brain feels as if it’s been stuffed with cotton wool. The salt in the wound? It only gets worse the more you remind yourself of the things you have to do that day. Oh, and you’ve got a million of those ‘things’ to get done by this Friday, and… you couldn’t bring yourself to start on even one thing. Also, you had the entire month to make use of. Keyword: Had.

That’s right, it’s that awful period of time when our best friend Motivation decides to go on a vacation. Discipline, a feared but respected friend (or foe?) is ready to drag you to the ends of the earth, but you just can’t take its hand.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though, because the truth is, Motivation didn’t abandon you-- and Discipline is actually a softie, when you get to know her well enough.

The reality is simple: your brain got bored of thinking the same way about things. What does that mean, exactly? Here are four (way easier said than done) ways to stay disciplined when motivation fades.

1. Change the way you think. What is your definition of being 'disciplined'?

Yes, it’s the same old ‘perspective-change’ approach that you’ve seen a hundred times everywhere else. Have you ever asked yourself why everyone’s raving about these ‘perspectives’? Spoiler alert: because there are millions of perspectives out there, and there is, without a doubt, one special one that’ll work for you.

So, through your eyes, what is discipline?

If your definition of discipline is waking up at 7am every single day and completing all of your tasks by the end of the day, then it’s no wonder why you’re feeling demotivated. If you, however, define discipline as waking up at any time before 8:30am, and completing at least three tasks that you must do by the end of the day, then you’ll notice that you actually feel like you can breathe.

You need to give yourself room for error and time to make it work. You’re not a robot, you’re a human being. It’s not your fault that the majority of all working systems in this world don’t see it that way.

2. Look into the fine line of motivation and discouragement.

Ever thought that maybe it wasn’t the lack of motivation but the presence of discouragement that disturbed you from completing your goals?

My principal used to drill it into our heads how hard she worked all the time as a student, and she’d never fail to mention the straight A’s she had to prove it. It only left me feeling discouraged, though, despite knowing that she was only trying to inspire us. I thought, wow, I’m never gonna be as good as that, but I realise now that it wasn’t so much the way she came about it that discouraged me, but her certificates instead. Straight A’s?

I didn’t have the time, let alone the desire to achieve that, yet I was obliged to feel motivated to push for it. And when I just couldn’t do it, I felt discouraged and guilty, unaware that it was just my mind refusing to cooperate because straight A’s weren’t my goal. I had to figure out what was the main reason.

Which brings us to the next point.

3. Re-evaluate what you are trying to achieve.

And what exactly do you need to achieve that?

I’m not talking about an end-goal here, I’m talking about what you need to get done by tomorrow, or tonight. If it’s discipline you want, then you need to accept that what you end up producing will not always be on par with the standards you’ve set for yourself.

Let’s be realistic, here. Unless you’re a superhuman in disguise, you’ll only disappoint and discourage yourself if your goal is to ‘be disciplined and be brilliant all the time’. Friend, it’s just not going to happen.

Try this instead: ‘my goal is to stay consistently disciplined, not to consistently churn out top-notch content at a regular pace’. In other words, it’s really one or the other.

4. Spend time finding what motivates you.

‘time’? What’s that? Never heard of that.

Jokes aside, the keyword is time. Your biggest mistake would be looking at this last step as a waste, when in reality, it’s an investment. It might just be your biggest investment yet. Life’s too short to be pulling your hair in front of a screen, beating yourself up for being lazy, incompetent, useless, dysfunctional-- getting war flashbacks? Sorry.

Take the initiative to allow yourself to be taken by the hand and led to wherever your heart feels strongest towards, and then, the fun part: indulge.

Sometimes, the lack of motivation doesn’t mean you’ve gone stupid, or have run out of brain juice. It’s a learning curve. It means your brain has just about reached its limits in working with what you’ve got at the moment, and it’s therefore time to reach out and learn something new. And here’s the interesting part: it doesn’t have to be related to anything you have to produce or create, it just has to be something that makes you feel all fuzzy and inspired. Let that feeling take the reins, and then once you’re full of it, channel that energy into whatever it is you have to do with a lighter heart. It’s quite like magic.

The most important thing to remember about discipline, motivation, and the works, is that you can only blame yourself for so much. There are times to get angry at yourself, and there are times to get angry at the system... but there’s a little problem with thinking this way. If you want to get clear on what time is really wasted, then it’s exactly that. Getting angry at anything is a waste of time.

Invest your time in learning about what makes your heart happy, share it with others, and make them happy too. Life’s too short to be confined to the boundaries the world taught you to set for yourself.

Now, don’t give yourself any time to protest: one, two, three, get up and go!

You can find our more about Dhanishta on her Instagram too.

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