Motivation, Discipline and Habit

Despite the fact that I was up until after midnight, this morning my alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. simultaneously with the chirp of a “get up” text reminder from my success partner.  This has  been the story of my life Monday – Friday for the last six weeks, without fail.  The good news is that I’ve actually been getting up when that happens…for at least the last three weeks 🙂  It took a LOT of effort to get to the point that I just go on and get up, no matter what time I turned in or how warm and cozy my bed and husband are.  And this morning as I was getting ready for a 6:30 “meeting” I could see the 5 hours of sleep in my face (I’ll work on that next) but I had to smile because I’m so excited that my 5:30 wake-up time has become a habit.  That’s when I decided to talk to you about the difference between motivation, discipline and the sweet reward of habit.

The best way that I can explain this is to first explain why on earth I worked so hard to achieve a habit that makes most people cringe 😛  I don’t have an office to report to at 7 or a field and animals to go tend to; I simply like getting my day started early.  If I wake up even at 6:30 or 7:00 I feel like my day is rushed and I find myself in a constant state of overwhelmed.  My motivation was that I was so over being overwhelmed all of the time.  But that motivation hadn’t really been enough to help me make the necessary changes to my day…every day.

Now, as I mentioned, this successful practice didn’t happen overnight.  I spent months trying to figure out the best rhythm for my days.  Once I knew that getting up early was my ticket to success (which I already knew and was avoiding because I came to like sleeping in), I made the decision that I needed to figure out how to make it happen.  That’s when discipline got invited to the party.  This is where I had to drag myself out of bed and go to the living room.  Even if I only got up because I wanted to be able to text my success partner back that I was awake.  Even if I only read one verse in my Bible or prayed one sentence before nodding off.  Even if I started my workout and had to give it 50% effort because I was tired.  Getting up on time had to become a “no matter what” goal.  Over time, I was able to tell myself to turn the TV off and put the phone down a little earlier at night so that my mornings weren’t as much of a struggle.  And eventually, I was rewarded for my efforts.

By getting up at 5:30, I am able to drink my detoxing green tea while I have my quite time with the Lord, then plan my day and maybe even start working (or working out) all before the house starts to wake.  These practices start my day on the right foot and bring a sense of calm to my mind and spirit.  It is this time that enables me to have a more productive, energetic and positive day, even if I haven’t gotten enough sleep.  And I love that feeling.  I CRAVE that feeling.  That feeling of success and the great increase in my productivity are the trigger that allowed me to create the habit of getting up early.  And the beauty of habit is that I don’t even have to think about it anymore.  I just get up 🙂

I encourage you to stop relying so much on motivation.  Motivation is simply your desire to do, to change, to have; but it doesn’t get you results.  Discipline is the secret sauce.