Finding My Discipline and Getting Things Done
Getting things done can be hard without discipline. It often starts with procrastination, resulting in nothing done at all. Here’s how to fix it.
When there is no external force to keep you on track like a boss or project deadline, keeping disciplined in your endeavors is the thing that will determine how successful you are by the end of the year.
A lot of us made New Year’s resolutions to do more and be more — but many of us have already fallen off the bandwagon.
I look at the pinned story every other day — if not every day — as a reminder of what I want for myself this year. It sets and resets the tone of my intentions for the day and keep my true priorities at the forefront.
Try the written vision board
When you start your day with an intention, your actions become more purposeful. You make yourself aware that you need A to get to B. Sometimes you just need a map to move you in the right direction towards getting things done.
I wrote down my intentions for the year — not on New Year’s day — but several days afterward to avoid being part of the official New Year’s resolution crowd. In part, I also wanted to let the post-Christmas and New Year’s food settle so I don’t write my long term goals with holiday food guilt.
I made sure to run the words through my brain several times, typed up a few drafts, edited, reworded, and made sure that it truly reflects what I want to achieve over the next 12 months before finally setting on the final published version.
The post became my written equivalent of a vision board.
I tried making vision boards in the past but they didn’t work for me. Lofty visual representations didn’t cover my need for action and words. I’m a writer by nature and well-crafted words have more meaning than Instragam-esque photos. Pictures are common. That stuff I can see anywhere.
But words — words can shape worlds and bring even the most fantastical imaginings to life. Words excite me. Beautiful pictures of someone’s home do not. How you present your goals to yourself determines how sustained your motivational levels towards it will be.
No one wants to work on dull tasks — especially self-imposed ones. When your goal seems appealing, there is a higher chance that you’ll try and do something that contributes towards it.
Daily intentions keep you on track
It’s one thing to set goals, it’s another to consistently set daily intentions. When your daily intentions are the same every day, it reduces the friction of starting. It creates a series of achievable micro-goals that eventually leads to the completion of bigger ones. Getting things done involves action and movement. To get movement, you need to start looking forward.
The purpose of daily intentions is to force you into the present. I often find myself living either in the past or the future. Mindfully living in the present is not a new concept but implementing it — that’s something different.
Goals offer us a destination while the past offers us a lesson. Daily intentions is the active creation of both states. If we don’t do things with intention, we’re not purposefully moving towards our destination. Instead, we leave a trail of wasted time behind us.
Making things happen
Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment. — Jim Rohn
Having a purpose is a great motivator for getting things done.
When you do things without intention or purpose, the empty act doesn’t have as much impact on your sense of accomplishment. Sometimes, it even adds to the feelings of futility. It doesn’t take long for your latest goals and resolutions to fall apart.
I had a friend who had a daily reminder to ‘stop being fat and get thin’ pop up on her phone every day. A decade later and her weight still hasn’t budged. While the reminder was there, her motivation was lofty and superficial. She only wanted to ‘get thin’ with no real reason for why she wanted to do so — other than to fit in with her internalized social standards. In her eyes, she was already eating healthy (Wendy’s burgers and supersized drinks for lunch), doing all the physical exercise she needed but did not want change. How she was going to get there was not defined. Her weight was supposed to somehow magically melt away.
There are fuzzy goals and then there are hopeful goals. It’s better to have fuzzy goals that give you a sense of direction and infuse your journey with a sense of purpose. Getting things done includes the ability to change what you need to change in order to move forward. That’s what my goals are for the year – fuzzy. There’s no clear end measure as such.
My metrics is that I’m better than yesterday and that I’m consistently writing more and coding more. What I get out of it is only a cumulative result and by-product of sticking to things. My fuzzy goals are open-ended because they’re all about growth — and it doesn’t matter how much I’ll grow as a person, all it matters is that I consistently grow. The speed and final destination is not part of the equation. This gives me the flexibility needed to respond to changes and unexpected surprises.
Hopeful goals are the kind that is purely superficial and without any real meaning. They’re sort of like pinning up pictures of your dream home and hope that it will materialize out of thin air without changing anything.
Goals are not wishes. They don’t come true without consistent action. There are no three fairies out there to grant them into existence. You might get lucky but some people are luckier than others because they open themselves up to opportunities. They get disciplined and work on the things that walk them down the path towards the pot of gold.
I could have written about techniques and strategies to get disciplined — but that’s as good as repeating the over told advice that you should start your day early. Personally, I think we become disciplined when our reason for doing is internally fueled and gives us a purpose.
Waking up at 5am is an empty goal. It’s unsustainable unless you have a reason for doing such a thing. Otherwise, it’s better to get the sleep you need and be ready to tackle the day at your own speed and with an alert mind.
So if you want to be disciplined — give yourself an internally fueled reason. Find your purpose and materialize it in a format that is accessible and excites you. Then use who you were yesterday as a metric. It’s easier to make progress is small consistent steps rather than try and sprint towards the end goal — that will only give you burn out and you’re more prone to quit before achieving anything substantial.
When you’re comparing yourself to who you were yesterday, there’s a higher chance that you’ve would have made some sort of progress. They’re small wins and small wins are the thing that keeps you motivated to stay disciplined.