Commitment, Not Motivation

Motivation may get you started on the path, but it’s only self-discipline that will help you see it through to the end. Motivation is the initial spark; self-discipline is continuously fanning the fire. Don’t depend on motivation, which fluctuates; instead, make a strong commitment.

If you rely on an inconsistent feeling (motivation) to spur you to action, your action will also be inconsistent. It is like a sailor who only knows how to move forward when the wind is at his back—he won’t go very far.

Therefore, don’t expect motivation. Don’t wait to be motivated before you start. Don’t wait for it to “feel right”. Act, regardless of motivation. Take a step forward in the direction of your goals every day, whether you feel like it or not. This is what makes the difference between regret and long-term success.

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When the young comedian Brad Isaac asked Jerry Seinfeld for career advice, Seinfeld told him that he needed to write jokes every day. Not “every day that you feel inspired”. Not “every day that you feel funny”. Every day.

In the path toward your aspirations, you will face many setbacks, failures, and disappointments. You will at times doubt yourself and doubt the process. These are the defining moments in any journey; it’s the time for you to prove what you are made of, and re-affirm your aspiration. Here, only commitment to your purpose can help you.

I have always felt that the mettle of a player is not how well he plays when he’s playing well, but how well he scores and plays when he’s playing poorly.
—Jack Nicklaus (professional golfer)

There are different types of commitment. Some commitments should be non-negotiable—I call them Never Zero commitments. Others need to be a bit more flexible, so that there is not too much pressure in your daily life (which would lead to unnecessary stress). Just keep in mind that the more flexible your mindset is around the commitment itself, the more likely you are to find an excuse and skip it.

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