Aristotle said it best when he so boldly stated “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” When we consider reaching our goals, we immediately think about motivation, especially ways to harvest some. We hammer out ideas that we hope will keep our eyes on the prize. Maybe a significant event in the future like a wedding, vacation, or reunion. Maybe we purchase new workout clothes, or fancy water bottles that read “Make Your Dreams Come True!” hoping that the minute we look at the bottle our B-line to the goal line is the only thing in sight. Right?
There’s no denying it, motivation is the key to making that initial jump. The emotion that propels us to dive head-first into our goals. The driving force behind the first-morning workout because you know it is time to work on your cardiovascular health. However, motivation, like any emotion, can be fleeting. By definition, motivation is “a person’s desire or willingness to do something”, which as we all know, sometimes escapes us when we hear our 6:00 am “gym time” alarm going off. So what do we do? Where do we turn when we are running low on motivation fuel and we aren’t sure how to keep things going?
Worry not and call on habit, or rather, self-discipline. Defined as “One’s capacity to control his or her feelings and inclinations in pursuit of what aligns with their values.” Self-discipline depends on grit and not emotion to do what needs to be done. Causing you to focus on committing to your values even when the motivation is gone when it seems easier to give up. Researchers have found that it takes about 66 days before a new behavior becomes a habit. 66 days before it becomes second nature to go for that evening walk after dinner. Consider this, every day you are working towards that goal, every day it feels impossible, you are actually a day closer to having it feel second nature.
So what now? How do you harness your self-discipline? It’s been proven that a few minutes of mindful meditation can increase your willpower by building up the “grey matter” in your brain. “The increase in gray matter happens in regions of the brain associated with decision-making and emotion regulation.” Getting a good night’s rest (7 hours or more) and rewarding yourself with acts of self-care when you are keeping your promises to yourself are also recommended. For instance, booking a spa day or going out to a movie with your spouse after making it to your weekly Medi-Weightloss® appointments and hitting the gym. Focus on consciously making choices that align with your goal. Remember, it isn’t the quote you have on your t-shirt that is going to go the extra mile, it’s every foot you put in front of the other.