The One Thing You Need To Know If You Want To Change Your Life

Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

There is no better feeling than being hit by the wind of motivation.

We all know what it’s like — the idea takes root in your mind. Perhaps you’re suddenly realizing that this is going to change something that you’ve been upset about or wanting to change for a long time.

Then the first hit of euphoria (dopamine) hits — yesssss this is it!

If I’m planning something long term out (running every day, working out, writing every day, etc) then I begin to build a plan.

I will work out 30 minutes every day, so I’ll have to figure out a schedule….

I’m going to write a book and I’ll probably approach it one chapter at a time so I figure I’ll have to write about 10 pages a night, which will take me about 60 minutes so I’ll have to write right when I get from home….

etc etc. This is where the second hit of dopamine hits.

I’ll usually then get myself ready for sleep, think about what I’m “about to do” some more and then pass out. Third hit of dopamine. Feeling good so far!

Hey I’m really about to make a change/do something awesome — this is great I feel absolutely amped about this!!

Then I wake up in the morning, and suddenly, I have absolutely no interest in doing anything. I’ll usually take a look at my “schedule” and realize that I already overslept for working out and that I’m definitely not going to want to do anything after I get back from working for 8 hours and commuting an hour back home.

This (in a nutshell) is what motivation is. I call it “future-self-porn” because this is your ideal mental self living out a fantasy that everyone (yourself included) knows is unlikely to happen. You get a buzz from seeing a perfect version of yourself some time in the future.

After all, why would motivation actually help with anything? How could the presence of a feeling that lasts for an hour or two completely rewire your behavior that’s been built up for years or decades?

Thinking about doing something new or different is exciting because it tricks your brain into thinking you’re actually doing something. Even though you’re not.

Planning something feels like action. Talking about it feels like action. Getting your workout clothes when you go to sleep feels like action. But you know what all of this isn’t? Actual action.

Indeed, motivation will never help you get more than 1 or 2 steps into changing your behavior or whatever it is that you want to be doing.

It’s unfair but it makes sense. Your brain is constantly looking at everything as a use of resources. If you can “feel good” about doing something without actually doing it — then your brain is going to do exactly that. It conserves energy and makes you feel good — double win! (according to your brain!)

Actual change in your self or your behavior is hard work. It’s annoying, cumbersome, and gets in the way. It requires sacrifice and it means that you’ll have to do uncomfortable things to achieve your goals. Maybe you have to FORCE yourself to wake up at 6 am to workout. Maybe you have to ignore all the after-work drinks if you want to write a chapter a night for that book you’ve always wanted to put to paper.

This is why a massive chunk of the self-help industry is just frivolous BS. No amount of rah-rah enthusiasm at a conference that thousands of other people are attending isn’t going to make you change over the long term. No amount of reading about self improvement is going to make you physically change your thought patterns apart from the very easy surface level stuff. There’s only one person who can turn a mirror around on you and make you examine yourself …and it’s definitely not the guy writing in a Wordpress blog asking for your email subscription.

If self improvement was easy, everyone would be doing it. We’d all be fit, healthy, and rich.

But we’re not, and so there’s a disconnect. It can be frustrating because you mean so well and you genuinely want to change but you’re either motivated or you’re not and the middle ground seems to not exist.

But it actually does. We just don’t refer to it as motivation — we refer to that sweet spot in the middle as DISCIPLINE.

That is to say — you aren’t unmotivated. You’re undisciplined.

So, want to know the secret formula for achieving all your dreams?

Here it is:

Discipline + Patience = Change.

This is the key and secret to life. Children that can delay gratification tend to be more successful later on in life. Adults that can delay gratification and are disciplined enough to stay on track are happier.

Discipline is the difference between being excited about working out tomorrow and actually working out tomorrow.

Discipline is what keeps you eating salads even when everyone else is eating pizza. Discipline is what allows you to say no to your co-workers when they want to drink and you want to work out. Discipline is what you use to write a chapter of a book even though you’re exhausted and want to sleep.

The most successful people in life are disciplined. They’ll refer to it as “hustle” but it’s just a code-word for discipline.

I’m going to repeat it again because it’s so important: Discipline + Patience = Change.

Because discipline isn’t instant, you need to remember that you have to be PATIENT.

Patience is what lets you see the results of eating salads for months or years…

…patience is what helps you get fit when all your coworkers have spent the last 2 years drinking 3 nights a week…

…patience is what finishes a novel after months of exhausted nights and writers block.

Are you disciplined? Are you patient? Because without those two, you’ll only ever be able to start or get midway through something.

Successful people will talk about the really bad parts or really good parts of their life story. They’ll tell you about the time they almost went bankrupt or the time they finally closed the deal that propelled them into riches/fame/happiness.

What they won’t tell you is that they worked 14 hour days, every day (including weekends!) for 10 years before they actually went out and were noticed.

If you’re young and you’re motivated, change the way you think about it.

You’re not young and motivated — because that will always fail in the long run. You are young, disciplined, and patient. View your goals through that lens and tell yourself this every morning.

Approach issues this way and I promise you will achieve your dreams…

…eventually!