The vast majority of us have no shortage of things to get done. Emails, task lists, work projects, errands, chores, paperwork, and on and on. The world is only getting more complicated and faster-paced and we have to keep up.
When you’re learning how to trade or working towards financial independence there is a lot to do. You’ll need a well thought out plan and concrete steps to carry it out. You’ll need to be highly productive, and on a consistent basis. But how?
This isn’t an article about task management or productivity systems (that’s for another time). Right now I want to boil everything down to the most simple forces there are at our disposal when we need to get stuff done:
Motivation and Discipline.
You might think these are the same, at least very similar. Many fitness influencers and side hustle gurus use them interchangeably. In reality they are very different.
Motivation: noun - the state or condition of being motivated or having a strong reason to act or accomplish something.
Discipline: verb - to punish or penalize for the sake of enforcing obedience and perfecting moral character. To train or develop by instruction and exercise especially in self-control.
One thing to realize is that motivation is only a noun (discipline can be a noun or a verb).
I like to think of motivation as being in the same category as things like luck. It’s a spark, something external to ourselves that we have no control over. It comes and goes, unpredictably, and isn’t something you can count on.
Motivation is great, magical even, when it appears, and can help you accomplish a lot. But motivation is really only a short term solution to being productive.
Reaching Your Goals
When you’re working on big life-changing goals that depend on you making progress consistently, motivation isn’t what you want to be counting on. It’ll be there for a while, in the beginning, when everything is new and exciting. But soon it’ll wane and you’ll begin to find other things grabbing for your attention.
It’s kind of like a relationship. At the start you are so infatuated that it seems nothing can keep you from your goal (the other person). Your days and nights are filled with thoughts of them and you can’t imagine a time where it would be any different. But that day always comes. Eventually you start to become annoyed by their quirks and they don’t seem so wonderful anymore.
So how do you get past this? What can keep you going long term, day after day, on a consistent basis?
That’s where discipline comes in. Discipline is something that you have complete control on and can call on at any time. Discipline is a decision.
Contrary to popular belief, discipline is not some inherent quality that only some people are born with. There is no person on this earth that comes out naturally disciplined. That would be like a baby being born with very muscular arms.
In fact, discipline is like a muscle in many ways. It needs to be exercised, used, honed and strengthened. Every single individual who is seen as “disciplined” had to work hard to get that way.
Many people have a fixed mindset when it comes to discipline. They think you either have it or not and there’s nothing that can be done to change that.
The good news is, discipline can be learned. No matter where you are starting from you can become a disciplined person. You can develop that muscle and have it available to call upon whenever you feel your motivation falling away.
Discipline is the decision to do something even when you don’t want to. In order to develop this skill you need to practice it a lot. That means getting comfortable with the feeling of doing things that you don’t want to do.
Start small, with something that you don’t necessarily want to do, but wont be too difficult to add into your daily routine. It could be an action as simple as picking your dirty clothes up off of the floor and putting them in the laundry basket. Or doing 5 sit-ups when you wake up. Set an alarm or reminder and do it everyday.
When you’re successfully completing that for at least a month, add something else to the routine.
The key is to get your brain and body into the habit of making the more difficult choice. Don’t stop and think about it, just get your body into action and DO IT. You want to practice taking action even when it’s uncomfortable. ESPECIALLY when it’s uncomfortable.
Gradually you will be able to stretch yourself even further and have the discipline to do much more difficult and uncomfortable things. The key is to practice practice practice.
There is no secret to discipline. In the end it is simply a decision.
How to Be a Disciplined Person
Disciplined people don’t wait for inspiration or motivation to strike. They don’t let their emotions dictate whether they reach their goals or not. They make a plan, break that plan into concrete steps they can act upon everyday, and just do it.
- If you want to be a trader, don’t just practice when you’re motivated to. Instead, practice and study everyday.
- If you want to be stronger, don’t workout only when you feel like it. Instead, make a workout plan and stick to it.
- If you want to save more money, don’t just start when you want something. Set aside a small amount every day/week/month.