Welcome to today’s episode of “Reimagining Success” with your host Anna Lundberg! In this episode, we delve into the concept of discipline and its relation to achieving our goals. Inspired by a powerful quote that hangs in her study, Anna reminds us that discipline is not just about strict routines and sacrifices, but primarily about staying clear on what we want. With personal anecdotes and thought-provoking insights, she explores the importance of having a strong motivation and clear goals, and how these factors can make discipline feel like a natural and fulfilling part of our journey towards success. Tune in as Anna leaves us with a transformative question to ponder: “What is it that you want, and what are you willing to do to get there?” Get ready to reimagine success with a fresh perspective on discipline in today’s thought-provoking episode.
00:00 Discipline is remembering what you want.
04:20 Motivation key for early morning self-care routine.
09:08 Video presence, goal clarity, and mindset crucial.
10:27 Balancing ambition and achievability for motivation.
*Resources mentioned during the episode*
1:1 Coaching & Mentoring – If you’re looking for one-to-one support to help you achieve your specific life and business goals, Anna has a limited number of spots for individual coaching and mentoring. onestepoutside.com/coaching
Lack of discipline
Today’s episode is inspired by a quote that I have framed right here behind me in my study that I’ve taken with me for many years and that I’ve spouted, I was going to say to many a client over the years, and the quote is this, discipline is remembering what you want. Discipline is remembering what you want. And I think we tend to believe that any kind of change requires us to, you know, go. Go to the gym every day and get up early in the morning and follow all these healthy habits and work really hard and hustle and grind and be super disciplined and hardcore to achieve our goals. And the truth is that, yes, there’s an element of discipline. There’s an element of habit that’s really important and really powerful. But the first step is getting super clear on what we’re working towards, reminding ourselves of why that is important, and then that is going to give us the energy, the motivation to work towards that, despite the setbacks along the way.
So if we take the classic, oh, I need to go to the gym, I need to eat healthily and so on, as a new year’s resolution in particular, it’s just one of those things we kind of say, yeah, I need to get fitter, I should exercise more. It’s not very specific. It’s not going to happen, basically, because we don’t really know why. If we. And I interviewed, in fact, it’s coming up next week, I believe. So I interviewed someone who was saying, look, I’m a granddad. I want to now be fit and strong to be able to play with my grandchild, then that’s a really strong motivation to stay fit and flexible and to do whatever it takes to do that. Right.
Whether it’s 100 push ups a day, which I think he was doing, or whatever that looks like just getting a bit fitter or healthier may not be enough motivation. And certainly just having a discipline every day, it’s not going to be a lot of fun. Any healthy habits. The same thing with work, staying focused, not getting distracted. And people say to me, oh, you’re so disciplined. I was like, yes, but it doesn’t feel like discipline when I’m doing something that’s meaningful to me. And fundamentally, when I’m running my own business effectively, I’m designing everything, doing everything, because it’s meaningful to me. So in a way, if anything, it’s harder to take breaks, although I have learned to do so after many a year.
And it’s really important to do that. But it’s certainly not hard to motivate myself to get out of bed in the morning, to work on the business, because I love it, whatever it is, whether I’m working on the book or recording this podcast, when I have an idea, it’s so exciting. And to go out and help people, to speak to people, to interview people, to create content, to deliver a workshop, whatever it is. Of course, it’s not all fun and games, it’s not all unicorns and rainbows, but certainly it doesn’t feel like I’m having to, on a daily basis, be disciplined. Like, oh, I have to work on my business. It doesn’t feel like that at all. Not to mention the fact that only having that discipline gets pretty exhausting. Right? So the idea here is that you’re not fighting against yourself every day.
You’re going with your energy, with your desires, with your goals. Now, that being said, I want to caveat this. One of my favorite books is the war of art, the war of art by Stephen Pressfield. And I’m pretty sure it’s him. He says, truck drivers don’t get truckers block, right? So as writers, we say, oh, I’ve got writer’s block. I can’t write. And as creators, we do tend to think I have to go with my energy and inspiration. And that’s true.
But if you’re a writer, you’re being paid to write. That is your job. You do need to write. If you’re driving the truck every day, you can’t wake up in the morning, go, oh, I don’t really feel like it today. I might try again later. No, you’ve got a delivery. You’re being paid to do a certain thing. Now, of course, if it’s your own business, if it’s your own books or articles you’re writing, then you can choose if you’re going to write now or later, and you have that flexibility.
But I think the essence of that is quite important to remember. It can become an excuse to say, oh, no, I don’t feel like writing. I have writer’s block. Whatever. So if you’re doing something creative, that’s just a caveat there. But the key, again, is to remember, why are you doing it? Why do you want to do it? What is it that makes this short term sacrifice? You’re not going to just sit and watch tv. You’re not going to sit there and eat the doughnut or whatever it is. You’re going to go to the gym.
You’re going to exercise, you’re going to go out into the cold in fact, I’ve been setting my alarm for six in the morning, which is quite tough actually, now that the kids are sleeping in, just to be able to go downstairs, have a cup of tea, do some journaling, writing, come up with some ideas, do a bit of my Spanish or Italian. At the moment I’m doing my New York Times connections and just have a little moment to myself. Some days that is not motivating enough to get myself out of bed. If I haven’t slept very much, if we had a tough night, late night, whatever, but most days that it is having that moment to myself, whether it’s ten minutes or an hour, ideally, and being able to shower, maybe even if I’m lucky, before everyone wakes up, having that cup of tea is really, really motivating to me. So in order to motivate itself to get up at six in the morning, yes, there’s an element of discipline, but I’m thinking, okay, do I want to give up this time to myself? If so, by all means I won’t get out of bed. But if I do want to have that time to myself, then I will get up. And it’s not discipline so much as that motivating carrot of having that time to myself. If you’re not doing something, if you’re not doing it, whatever it is, then usually there are three things that could be going on.
The first is that you don’t want to, so you care more about the doughnut, and sorry for using the simplistic example, you care more about the short term than the long term. And unfortunately, this is a psychological evolutionary. If it’s evolutionary, I don’t know. But it’s certainly a very natural innate bias that we have towards the present moment. Children, of course, if you say, hey, if you have the ice cream now, you can’t have pudding later, we’ll say, yeah, I’ll have the ice cream now and I want the pudding later. They can’t quite distinguish between those moments. They don’t get what later is. And of course, if I have the choice between ice cream now or not ice cream now, I’ll go ice cream now.
And I think I know that we as adults are only slightly older children, so we’re not so far removed from that. And if I have the option, it’s this moment, now I’m tired, I’m hungry, I want the biscuit or the chocolate or whatever it is, rather than thinking, no, but hang on, that sugar might make me feel a little unwell if I eat too much for a long period of time. That’s a very theoretical thing. In fact, I imagine, and apologies for the example that just springs to mind now. But, for example, smoking or something else is bad for your health as well. There’s a risk of cancer, but it’s not like a doctor comes, and maybe that’s possible now actually tells you, look, you will definitely die at this age if you smoke, for example. If they did that, I think probably fewer people would smoke. But you sort of have this, like, yeah, but I’m enjoying it right now.
Please don’t smoke. And I think most people don’t these days, but nonetheless, that was the example that came to mind. So we have this bias for the present moment. But if you’re not doing it, then usually not one you don’t want to do it. There’s something else that’s more important. The doughnut, as it were, the proverbial doughnut. The metaphor is the doughnut is more important to you than some theoretical moment in the future when you’ll be a little bit more trim, more energetic, or fewer migraines or better skin or whatever you think that you want. That thing is not clear enough to give you.
Let’s call it the discipline to actually avoid the short term enjoyment, pleasure. Secondly, you might be afraid. Now, that might not apply in the case of the doughnut and the exercise, but maybe you know what you should be doing for your business, for your career, whatever, but you’re afraid to do it. Oh, I don’t like networking, or I’m nervous about this, or you’re sort of stuck in your comfort zone of doing things a certain way. I don’t want to try a different approach. And so you’re afraid of doing it. Or number three, you don’t know how to, so you know what you want. It’s super important.
You’re sort of committed to doing it, but you’re actually not sure how to proceed, then it doesn’t matter how much discipline you do. If I put in the calendar every day, 09:00, I’m going to work on my podcast. If I don’t even know what a podcast is, what technology should I be using? How do I even begin to start a podcast? That time is not going to be efficiently used. So it doesn’t matter how much discipline I have. I haven’t broken down that goal into manageable. Okay, research how you launch a podcast. Find out about the microphone that you need. Find out about the technology.
Will I edit it myself or find an editor? What does that cost? So many questions that you need to break it down into. So if you’re not doing the thing, usually you don’t want to do the thing. Something else is more important. You’re afraid to do the thing or you don’t know how to do the thing. Today we’re talking mainly about this. You don’t want to, or at least you don’t know what it is you want, perhaps. So you need to find out which of those three things it is, of course, so that you can address the issue. And so the question for you today, and remember the quote, is discipline is remembering what you want.
And I’m just turning around to look at it now so I see it behind me. You may well catch it in videos. If you ever watch me in the videos in my study here, then my question for you is this, what is it that you want? And importantly, what are you willing to do to get there? Again, if you don’t know how to get there, if you’re afraid to do it, that’s a different story. There are things to work on in terms of mindset, de risking it, as we talked about last week, finding the mentor, the support, the course, whatever it is that you need to find out how to doing the research, doing the due diligence. But really the biggest driver of having that discipline that you think perhaps that you need is to be super clear on what you want and to have that as a guiding North Star to motivate you beyond setbacks through the challenges, help you to make those compromises and sacrifices worthwhile in the short term because you’re working towards this longer term thing and to make that as powerful as possible. You want to be as clear and specific. I don’t want to say the smart goals, we all know that whole specific, measurable, et cetera, which is totally true, it should be ambitious enough to excite you, but not so ambitious that it feels impossible, because if it’s too huge, you can’t hold yourself to account. It’s just going to be too scary and impossible.
So it’s just going to be one of those theoretical ideals that you’ll never reach. But if it’s too easy, then you’re not going to be motivated by either, right? So it needs to be the right level of ambition and achievability. It needs to be as vivid as possible, whether it’s a vision board or written in a sentence or a sticker or a poster or a picture, whatever it is for you really feel what it’s going to feel like when you achieve that thing. And then, of course you can work on working out. Okay. What does it take to get there? And maybe there’s an element of habit that is required. The small steps, of course, are much more powerful than taking huge leaps. So consistency.
Going to the gym several times a week, even for a short period of time, probably more effective than going once or doing a weekend boot camp and then not doing anything for weeks. And the same applies in your career, in your business, in most areas of your life, I think. So taking those little steps. So again, the question I’m leaving you with is this. What is it that you want? Do you want it enough? That’s really important. And it’s okay if you don’t. You can admit that to yourself and just let go. What a relief.
You don’t have to do that thing anymore. Or if you do want it, and it is really important, then what are you willing to do? What are you willing to give up? What are you willing to give up? That’s important too. What are your non negotiables and what will it take to get there? Discipline is remembering what you want.c
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If you’re looking for one-to-one support to help you achieve your specific life and business goals, Anna has a limited number of spots for individual coaching and mentoring.