I never feel like itSep 28, 2023
For years I found motivation to be a fickle beast.
She (I don’t know why motivation is gendered but she is and for me, she’s a she and a distant relation to creativity). Let’s start that sentence again. She favours some and dismisses others.
I once heard motivation referred to as a slightly loopy but very rich aunt who lives in a cluttered, ricketty mansion house on the top of a hill. The aunt bequeaths her vast fortune with no rhyme or reason to her many nephews and nieces. Some get a whopping allowance while others, despite their love and loyalty to their aunt, come away with mere kernels to spend.
I, dear reader, was gifted a sliver of motivation, quickly spent and never quite enough.
It felt like motivation was gaslighting me, promising me the world and then abandoning ship when I needed her the most only to return in a short burst just before the deadline as if to say “chill, I’ve been here the whole time!”
I would envy those who were motivated enough to be consistent with their workouts, complete their work with time to spare and who seemed to be able to start and finish a project without losing steam half way through.
Until one day I realised something.
I was chatting to a friend of mine who I assumed had won the motivation lottery. She didn’t rely on her wacky aunt to dish out motivation, she had her own endless supply multiplying with interest in the bank.
She never missed a gym session, she always went to bed on time, her work was always done ahead of time and her life was better for it.
Her results showed that she was thriving but it was more than that.
She had this deep centred self trust.
You could almost see it running through her.
She was grounded, sure, confident.
She could wholeheartedly rely on herself which in turn gave her the capacity to handle (create, receive, enjoy) more.
Some people call that manifestation. I’m pretty sure she didn’t have a vision board.
On a walk one day I shared with her that I was envious of her motivation.
Surely my flaccid motivation was to blame for my lack, my twirling swirling energy and my mediocre results.
She stopped and turned to look at me.
“Mate” she said “I’m not motivated. I’m disciplined.”
All this time I had convinced myself that my lack of motivation was the problem. A problem I couldn’t do anything about. When in actual fact discipline was what I was lacking. And discipline is always available. Discipline is a choice.
Motivation can’t be dictated to. When it’s there it’s a great wave to ride. But when it’s not, it’s not.
Discipline on the other hand is a more faithful servant. It can always be summoned.
And now, I had no more excuses.
I could either live a disciplined life or I could wait around like a chump waiting for motivation to show up before I did… anything!
That was the day the game changed for me.
I began to do the things I didn’t feel like doing, when I didn’t feel like doing them.
The more I flexed that muscle, the more I realised I could do hard things. Soon those things became less hard and then I realised I could do harder things that brought greater rewards.
With those greater rewards came… freedom.
We think freedom lies in choices.
I’m free to stay home from the gym today because motivation is on a short vacay right now.
I’m free to spend my money on shit I don’t need because the motivation to spend is greater than the motivation to save.
I’m free to avoid that piece of work and procrastinate by doing this other thing instead.
I’m free to stay up until 1am watching reruns of Friends while scrolling on social media because look, two screens!
But that’s slavery, not freedom.
Inconsistent action will always produce inconsistent results and there you will stay, trapped and unable to move forward. Does that sound like freedom to you?
Discipline takes the choice away.
You show up and do it anyway.
Your action becomes consistent and consistency creates results.
Turns out that the freedom we all crave (financial freedom, time freedom, physical freedom, mental freedom) is found in discipline. Go figure!
So there you have it dear reader. I’m rarely motivated.
But I choose to stay disciplined.
Because the more disciplined I am with my health, my work and my spiritual practice, the freer I become.
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