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Enthusiasm Discipline Habit

Almost any worthwhile achievement requires sustained effort over a long period of time.  Building a business, winning a championship, developing a skill – all these goals require hard work for a long time.

I know of two attitudes useful for sustaining this level of effort: enthusiasm and discipline.  If you’re passionate about your goal, enthusiasm is natural.  It’s easier to put in the work because it doesn’t feel like work.  Think of someone who is world class in their field.  Odds are they love their work.  They put in more time and more effort because it’s fun.  These are the people you find skipping to work.

If your goal is something that doesn’t arouse enthusiasm then you have to muster discipline.  Many people lack enthusiasm for saving money or losing weight.  But they’re not doomed to small bank balances and big waist lines.  They can substitute discipline.

Unfortunately, for most people discipline is tough to sustain over time.  This is why every gym in America is packed in January and empty in March.  And the worst part is that for many people discipline runs out just as they’re on the verge of unleashing a third principle of sustained effort: habit.  If they could muster the discipline to stick with their diet or the gym or their budget just a little longer, they’d soon find they don’t need discipline at all.

I have two suggestions on this matter.  First, find ways to align the things you have to do (your job, chores, etc.) with the things you love.  To the degree that you align these, the ‘have to’ declines and the ‘love to’ takes over.  You’ll put in more time and effort and you’ll get better at it.  And if it’s something that helps others then you’ll earn more for your effort.

Second, if your discipline is running low don’t give up.  If you can keep at it just a while longer, you’ll forge a habit.  And once you’ve forged a habit, your discipline will be free to apply to some other goal.