Everywhere you turn you’ll find another “motivational guru” attempting to inspire the masses to take action. If you’re like me, you’ve attended conferences, purchased courses, and poured over endless quotes and memes in a feeble attempt to get motivated enough to do what you already know you should be doing.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing particularly wrong with motivation, other than it doesn’t last. We’ve all left that conference feeling inspired only to get back into the grind and lose the excitement within 24-48 hours.
Like a drug-user hooked on cocaine, we’re constantly on the lookout for the next conference that promises to inspire, amaze, and motivate us yet again.
We go. We spend the time, the energy, and the money. And, we even get motivated for another 24-48 hours, until our next fix is needed.
And that’s the problem. We become dependent when we seek motivation from outside sources. And those that host these conferences know that and bank on the fact that you’ll have to come back next year.
I’m not suggesting you don’t attend these motivational conferences. I’m encouraging you to dig deeper than the surface-level B.S. that seems to be so prevalent in today’s society.
But rather than beat my chest and shout a catchy little tagline that “Motivation is B.S.”, let me share five strategies you can start using today to become your own source of inspiration and, more importantly, action.
PLANT YOUR FLAG
We live in a world where everything is promised immediately. Through Amazon, you can be reading a book I recommend in the next couple minutes. We’re promised immediate results from the latest fat-loss hack. Even podcast like this one allow us to listen to any subject on demand free from any need to wait for or on anyone.
In most cases, this access to information, products, and services is a beautiful thing. The unintended consequence, however, is that our attention span and patience has been greatly diminished.
That’s too bad considering that your success in any area of life requires an insane amount of consistency over long periods of time.
If you’re looking for immediate results in your life, motivation might just cut it. But if you’re interested in maintaining a healthy, wealthy, and successful life, you’re going to have to wrap your head around taking action for a lifetime.
BE A MAN OF YOUR WORD
Planting your flag requires you to be a man of your word. If, for example, you’ve committed to working out 5 days a week, every day you miss makes you a liar – to put it bluntly.
Sure, we can sugarcoat it and make excuses for why we missed our workouts but at the end of the day, you did not do what you said you would and that, by definition, makes you less than a man of your word.
It’s a good thing then that the idea of doing what you say you will is a skill set that can be learned.
All it takes is effort and consistency. Even the smallest of task and the smallest of promises count. If you tell your wife you’re going to take out the trash, take out the trash. If you tell your son you’re going to play catch with him after school, play catch with him after school. If you tell a neighbor you’ll be there to help him move, be there on time to help him move.
Every time you fail to keep your word, a little piece of your soul dies. It’s no wonder then why so many men seem to be miserable. They can’t keep their promises to themselves, let alone to others.
When you wake up early in the morning to work out, don’t question whether or not you should. Question whether or not you’re going to be a man of your word today. After all, the promises you make to yourself are the most important you can make.
SYSTEMS AND PROCESSES
Part of being a man of your word is about creating systems and processes to ensure you are.
Let’s use the workout example again. If you tell yourself you’re going to work out in the morning, set your clothes out the night before, get your pre-workout drink ready, and know what your workout is going to be. These are three simple systems that will keep you on track when you don’t want to be on track.
Calendars, daily rituals, evening routines, task lists, electronic reminders, Field Notes journals, coaching, and masterminds are all examples of systems and processed you can implement to get your work done.
REVIEW YOUR PROGRESS
Out of all the systems we could talk about, I want to focus on the idea of reviewing your progress. Most men don’t. We tend to identify the task, do it (or don’t), then move right to the next task.
This process of reviewing your actions, conversations, projects, interactions, and day is a critical component of diving deeper than simply being motivated.
I learned the after-action review in the military which is a series of five questions you can ask yourself to review your work and get you pointed in the right direction every day. For the sake of time, I’m not going to share the questions but if you’re interested, you can get a copy of the After-Action Review at www.orderofman.com/afteractionreview.
DISCIPLINE TRUMPS MOTIVATION
After all is said and done, the mantra that discipline trumps motivation has been a huge help for me.
Motivation is external. Discipline is internal. We rely on outside sources when we seek after motivation. We depend on ourselves when we strive for discipline.
This is what makes discipline so powerful. We simple decide that we’re going to be disciplined rather than wait for the perfect set of variables to motivate and inspire.
When you’re struggling to get out of bed, or workout, or be consistent with the project at work or in school, remember and tell yourself, “discipline trumps motivation” or as Jocko would say, “Discipline equals freedom.”
Internalize it, get a bracelet that says it, tattoo it on your forehead if you have to but whatever you do life your life by the words, “discipline trumps motivation.”
This is not an overnight process, especially if you’ve been relying others to motivate you most of your life but remember to plant your flag, be a man of your word, develop systems and processes, review your progress, and live your life by the mantra, “discipline trumps motivation” and you’ll never want – or need – for motivation again.