We look at others and remark how disciplined they are for what they do while complaining about our weakness for not being able to achieve their levels of dedication. All of us do it. We make a vow, every now and then: to get up early, start working out, eat healthy food, and be a better husband or wife or father or boss or employee. And then, we give up on it, going back to our usual routines. Maybe we make a slight improvement here and there, but nothing significant.
So what can we do about it? How can we make permanent changes in our lives that will let us reap eternal glory? Or just help us wake up at 5 a.m.
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Let’s take a look at motivation. People say that motivation is temporary and fickle. What you really need is discipline. But without motivation, how can you expect to start or stay on a path? How can you be expected to grit your teeth, hunker down, and keep doing something you don’t really enjoy? Sure, it will happen for one day, maybe two. But that’s it.
First, we start off by defining who we are — not who we think we are or who we want to be — but who we really are in the present, what our priorities are, our likes and dislikes, where our time is mostly spent, the state of our mind, our physical condition, our interests, our friends, our home, profession, workplace designation, income, hobbies, and financial situation.
Take out a piece of paper and write all these down, detailing each aspect. This is your profile. This is who you are. You don’t need to show this to anyone. Just fill out the pages. You will be amazed. We often consider ourselves better or worse than we actually are. Through this exercise, you will understand yourself from a more third-party perspective, without (much) bias. Take your time. Do this over 2-3 days. Simply brainstorm, and write down whatever comes to mind.
Now, arrange what you wrote into sections. Write these sections down on another blank piece of paper. Keep it aside. Think deeply about who you want to be. Where the first exercise was analytical, this one’s creative. Don’t write down things you want to achieve, like waking up at 5 a.m. or doing daily workouts. No, that’s not what needs to be done. Those are just activities. When you focus on activities, you limit yourself in many other ways. To make a permanent change, you need to change who you are.
Let’s take an example. You want to be a successful businessman or woman. What do people usually do? They take classes, try out some ideas, network with like-minded folks, and so on. All these are good, no doubt. But these are simply actions. To be a successful businessman, you need to be one. Confusing? You need to change the whole of yourself, including your living environment, to reflect the person you want to be.
You are not a successful businessman yet, but you need to dress like one. You need to talk like one. Understand? You need to live like one. Of course, you won’t be able to afford a bigger house. But you need to set up the one you have like a successful businessman would set it up.
You need to work hard. You make similar friends and surround yourself with people that a successful businessman would have around him. And, gradually, you will start thinking like one. And when that happens, it’s only a matter of time before you become a successful businessman.
Let’s get back to the exercise. You now have a clear profile and details on who you want to become. Adopt as many characteristics as possible for you. Be the person you want to be. The actions will be a byproduct of your character transformation. You will automatically wake up at 5 a.m. You will enjoy waking up early. It will be difficult to sleep in late. Because that’s not who you are.