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  • Jered Stewart

The Habit of Excellence

By the time March 1st hits many of us have given up on those “New Year Resolutions”. We are well on our way to Mardi Gras and St. Patrick’s Day! I’ve heard that many people can change for 60 to 90 days, but we eventually return back to those well ingrained habits. We are creatures of habit after all, for better or worse. But if you’re still doing well with that new diet or exercise routine then please hang in there. You are close to making that change a real habit. The more you condition yourself to a new habit, the more likely it will stick! Long term success is dictated more by your discipline than your motivation.

Being in various leadership roles throughout my career I’ve often thought, and struggled, with how best to motivate others. And the reason I think this is a struggle is that motivation is fleeting. Motivation is a feeling. Sometimes you have it, and sometimes you don’t. Have you ever had that feeling, “I don’t really feel like going to the gym today.” Or “I’m feeling like I’d rather eat that donut that my co-worker brought in, because that sugar will go straight to my brain and trigger that dopamine…and that feels good”. Being and staying motivated is hard.

So now I bring up that dirty 10 letter word…discipline. Unfortunately, we associate this word most often with punishment. Did you ever “discipline” your child when they were young? “Oh, they’ve been misbehaving, we need to discipline them!”. Discipline has always been portrayed as a negative, but discipline is actually a good thing. And discipline will beat motivation every time. You can get the motivation knocked out of you, but if you’re disciplined you will push on.

If you want real change in your life, forget about your motivation and consider your discipline. Many successful people will tell you that the best time to go to the gym, to eat better, to do whatever it is that you really know you should do, is when you don’t feel like it. Sometimes we just have to make ourselves do hard things, even when we don’t feel like it. And we can often do more than we think we can.

So, as we enter the third month of the new year, and by all means March can be a tough month, consider disciplining yourself in a small way. Make a small change. Good habits often start small. Instead of starting that new diet with the gung-ho approach of austerity, maybe just choose to eat well for one day, or maybe just one meal. Then try two days, or two meals. Build up slowly…and you will get there. And stop thinking about how you don’t feel motivated and choose discipline as your new best friend.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.”

- Aristotle

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