Every human is capable of great things, whether that be making a single person feel loved or finding a solution for world hunger. Every individual has greatness inside them.
It is no secret, though, that harnessing that potential can be quite the struggle. There are many obstacles that can interfere: self-doubt, distractions, outside negativity, lack of resources…
Overcoming these obstacles is over half the work itself, and that’s just the unfortunate truth of the matter. But there IS one crucial element to inciting change, and believe it or not, it’s not determination.
Determination vs Discipline
Determination is "a positive emotional feeling that involves persevering towards a difficult goal in spite of obstacles.” Whether it’s as simple as breaking a trivial habit, or as complex as changing a core aspect of your life, you must be determined to reach your end goal—that is true, no doubt. However...
Determination is nothing but a dream
Consider this: no matter how optimistic we may feel about reaching our goals—and even if we display resilience by picking ourselves back up when knocked down—our end goal is not truly obtainable until we place upon ourselves a set of practices and rules to abide by to reach it. Think of it like this...
Discipline is a tool in and of itself that branches us from mere attempts to success.
For example, determination is what would allow me to say I want to lose weight and to keep with that goal my whole life, even when I continuously slack off and step on the scale each month and notice no change. Great—that’s the first step in the right direction.
However, discipline is what would force me to go for a run every morning so that I can notice a true difference in my weight.
Why are we taught that determination is the key to success then?
Our whole lives, we are lectured that determination is the key to success. And there’s a reason for this: determination comes BEFORE discipline. Plain and simple. We encourage others not to lose hope, for without hope of achieving something great, we can’t even begin to consider acting upon it.
Everything I am outlining here is not meant for the person who isn’t sure they want to achieve their said goal. It is for the person who has decided, “Yes, I WILL achieve greatness. I won’t surrender,” yet cannot figure out how to take that last step from dream to reality.
This is for the person who knows they have potential and now wants to maximize it for all it’s worth.
What's the reality of the situation?
Now that I made my case for why discipline trumps determination, here’s the reality of the situation...
It ain’t that easy. Just because we want to unlock our fullest potential doesn’t mean enforcing discipline in our everyday, hectic lives is easy and always feasible. But here’s where I come in with the GOOD news...
Discipline does not mean nor require perfection.
We are not robots.
What discipline means is that we establish a regimen for ourselves to achieve growth and change, AND that when we stray from that pattern of order—as we fallible humans often do—we try to return to it as soon as we can.
It means that, to the best of our ability, we hold ourselves accountable for our actions and recognize how those actions may or may not lead us to maximizing our potential.
In returning to the weight loss example above, one might ask if I could still be considered disciplined if I were to slack off and stop running for a week. I would argue yes... IF I were to recognize again that I cannot lose weight without exercise and reestablish my workout routine.
Is this too lazy of a perspective?
Some people may advocate for more rigid standards than this. They may argue it is unacceptable to slip up because then we are not truly disciplined and are merely making excuses for ourselves.
While that may be true in theory, it is not true in practice for the vast majority of people. Placing unrealistic expectations on ourselves will destroy our chances of success faster and more effectively than just about any other factor.
Why? Because we will associate our end goal with a regimen we are incapable of following and will throw in the towel too soon.
So while discipline involves the literal act of obeying a certain set of rules we place upon ourselves, it also revolves around the ability to step back, recognize our patterns, our vices, our strengths, and decide how we must alter—and continue to reassess and re-alter—our ways of life until we can figure out what works for us on individual levels.
What works for one doesn't always work for another.
Why you should fill out my FREE printable!
Whether you are in the early stages of deciding your level of determination or are further along and are trying to establish discipline in your life, this questionnaire and follow-up can help.
It forces you to:
Decide on your end goal
Recognize what stands in your way
Figure out how you can prevent or overcome these obstacles
Utilize resources to help you do so
Recognize what impact achieving your goal will have
Assess how well your plan worked and what needs to change
Here's the front.
And here's the back.
I love this questionnaire because:
It forces you to reflect on your actions.
It involves trial and error, which is critical for finding out which form of discipline is right for you.
It involves a start and end date, so you’re held accountable by a deadline.
#5 always reminds you of WHY you’re doing this—what’s at stake and what you hope to obtain.
You can keep printing them out and track your progress!
Just click this link to download my FREE printable!!
So what are your guys' thoughts on this? Do you agree or disagree with what I said?
At the end of the day, life is all about figuring out what works for you and discovering what can help you become the best version of yourself.
I know, personally, I am my happiest self when I'm working toward a goal. In fact, I can't remember a time when I WASN'T working toward some kind of goal. It's embedded in my approach to life, and I believe it plays a major role in my feeling like I have purpose.
I hope this helps some of you. If this makes a difference in even one life, it was worth it to me!
Until next time...