We’re nearing the end of January and 2016 is well and truly underway, so its time to reassess the resolutions you drunkenly slurred as the clock struck 12 or muttered in a hungover haze of shame and regret 12 hours later. Have you managed to stick to your resolve and become a thrifty, hyper productive, alcohol free, green tea detoxing goddess? If you haven’t, you’re not alone. According to a YouGov poll carried out last January, 63% of Brits intended to make New Year’s resolutions for 2015, but over a third of them were likely to have broken them by the end of the first month.
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So why are we all so unsuccessful in sticking to our guns? Netflix and Dominos in bed is undoubtedly a more inviting prospect than a kale & spinach juice en route to the library, but our impulsive instinct to avoid things that are unpleasant or which infringe on our comfort zones is holding us back. In the wake of January exam and deadline period, the concept of “motivation” and its dreaded absence is one that we’re all familiar with. However, our reliance on spontaneously arriving in this elusive state and on its facilitative capacity to produce results means that we are allowing external factors to impact on our ability to reach goals and achieve success.
We’re all guilty of it, blaming our mood, our hormones, our friends, the weather, our pets and absolutely anything else other than ourselves for our lack of productivity. We fix ourselves in a perpetual cycle of procrastination, waiting for motivation and inspiration to miraculously materialise instead of taking control for ourselves.
The solution? Employing discipline and taking responsibility for your own success. At first glance, motivation and discipline may seem like fairly interchangeable terms, but in reality, they couldn’t be more different. Whilst motivation operates according to the erroneous assumption that a particular set of circumstances or a particular kind of mental state is necessary for success, discipline separates our ability to complete a task from any other influencing factors, forcing us to take accountability for our own productivity.
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In short, relying on motivation means that things will get done when we want to do them, when we’re in the mood, when the circumstances are all right. Discipline, on the other hand, means resolving to get things done, even when we don’t want to do them, and whilst it might be more difficult, tiring or dull, it’s infinitely more conducive to achieving your goals.
Of course, it’s also important to be balanced, to take breaks and to treat yourself from time to time: absolute and total self discipline is both impossible and unhealthy. It’s also vitally important to be realistic in your aims and resolutions: start small, employ discipline to make it happen and then progress onto bigger things.
You’re the only thing that’s responsible for your own success, so let’s quit the excuses and make 2016 the year of getting it done – even if its raining outside and your flatmate’s just brought home a sharing bar of Dairy Milk.