In November of 2020, I made a conscious decision to spend the next 6 months becoming the best version of myself. So, when New Year came around I didn’t bother with New Year’s Resolution. Instead, I chose to educate myself with ways to hack my mind and build good habits that will help me get to where I wanted to be in life – spiritually, mentally, and physically. It is safe to say that I was overdosing on motivation and the possibility for positive change. But, motivation is a fickle thing.
You see, having a goal and being motivated to achieve something gets you started. Because the motivation that you feel in the beginning provides you with a high that makes you believe that anything is possible. It makes you feel as though no matter how bad a day gets it won’t matter because you’ll get through it. Both of which are great things to experience. But, it also sets you up with a false sense of comfort. Because you end up in this mindset that bad days can’t touch you and that you’ll bounce back quick. Fall seven times, get back up eight times. Right? Wrong.
Here’s why. You will never always be motivated. This is where the need for discipline comes in. Because being disciplined will provide you with consistency. Especially, cause life will knock you down and knock you out – and you will never see it coming. It won’t matter if you feel like you are on top of the world and you finally have everything in order. In the end we only have control over two things: our actions and reactions. And relying purely on motivation to keep you going is something that will only lead to your inevitable demise. We all know it cause we’ve all experienced it at least once in our lives.
I do understand why most of us choose to rely on how motivated we feel when facing a new challenge or wanting to bring about change. Motivation makes us feel like we are on cloud nine. Plus it’s easy to find. Whether you are like me and find it in motivational videos on youtube or through aesthetically pleasing images you find on Pinterest that represent what you imagine your ideal self to be like. We all know of ways to get us back in that mindset. The only thing that differs from person to person is what that looks like.
That’s why I also know why choosing to teach yourself to become disciplined is even harder. Because not only do we have to change the details in our lives that have become second nature to us, we have to become more aware and honest with ourselves. And there are some truths which we just don’t want to admit to ourselves. But, here’s the thing, once discipline enters your life and all these new and improved habits begin to run themselves autonomously, it is such a wonderful thing. Not only does it bring much needed consistency it also brings you a sense of achievement. You begin to romanticize your life and you learn to appreciate all the little things in life.
Now, I’m not here to talk about how successful these past 4 months have been. Quite the opposite in fact. During the last 4 months, I have dealt with a lot more tests from God than I have ever encountered. But, through those experiences I have witnessed how valuable discipline is and how truly wonderful it is to have. You see, one of the first things to go when calamity hits is our motivation to do anything. And when you are dealing with mental health issues like I am, it can become even harder to do things – even something as simple as getting out of bed.
Although I wasn’t on top of my game, these past 4 months have taught me alot. First of all, sticking to a scheduled routine is HARD. Especially cause you never know what will come up that will need you to adapt. And as someone who needs to have a scheduled routine this was a hard pill for me to swallow. This lesson not only taught me how great writing down all that I need to get done is, it also taught me how needed adaptability is in life. Because no matter how much life knocks you down and changes up on you, it is necessary for you not only to get back up but to also figure out how to keep up with the changes around you.
Secondly, being disciplined isn’t always about being consistent. When I understood that discipline and consistency were not synonymous alot changed for me. This is because in the process of learning to be disciplined you will find out all about what makes you tick – it’s the inevitable truth. With this, you will begin to understand why you work best in the morning instead of night time or why during more stressful times of the month you need more self care time. Regardless of what your truth is, figuring it out and understanding it will allow you to be disciplined in a way that works for you.
Lastly, change isn’t always as obvious to you as you think it is. You see, although I know all these tips and tricks to habit building and breaking I didn’t always apply them. Especially not when I was going through things. In fact, 90% of my habits went out the window. But, the 10% that stayed, those were the ones that got me to pull through. And the habits that made up the 10% weren’t even big things at all. They were things like making my bed in the morning, going for a walk – even for just 10 minutes, reading for 30 minutes, and drinking lots of water. To me, these didn’t seem like such big things and neither did their results. To my friends and families, these “small” habits presented results that were big enough for them to notice. Which is why it is important to keep in mind, that you will forever be your biggest critic. Reminding yourself of this will not only help you be more mindful of the little things it will also help you appreciate the small wins in your day.
By Ayah Barghout