At the beginning of any new adventure, hobby, and even a job it often does not take a lot to motivate ourselves. The excitement and adrenaline of beginning something new keeps our motivation in check. It often does not even feel like work, only enjoyment and 'fun'.
This can be true for the first day of school with the fresh new erasers and sharpened pencils. This can be true for a new move with the prospect of meeting neighbours, settling into a fresh place, and becoming adjusted to a different community. This can be true for learning a new skill, taking a fresh course, or discovering a unique hobby. This can be true when beginning a different job and settling in to learn new skills.
It is when the initial beginning stages start to wear off that we lose that adrenaline of motivation. It is when the tasks become mundane and regular once again. This is when it begins to feel more like work than simply enjoyment. Don't get me wrong - it is important that the enjoyment is still there, but there becomes an aspect of 'need to get done' instead of only fun and excitement.
This is when discipline comes into play. Discipline is hard work. Discipline means setting goals and taking time even when we don't necessarily feel like it. It means staying committed and focusing on how to do so.
Discipline feels like an ugly word - a word that has no room for enjoyment or excitement. But within discipline there can still be an enjoyment and pleasure. Recently I have felt this need for discipline in many different areas of my life. From devotions to my jewelry making business even to this blog. I need to be disciplined to keep these things going even though they are also what I enjoy doing.
Here are some simple steps on how to get through that stage from new and exciting to committed and disciplined:
1. Set Goals. Goal setting is so key to staying focused on your hopes for your project, business, or whatever it may be. We can easily lose such focus when we are excited about a new opportunity, or when we begin to lose our motivation. It is important to set goals as soon as you begin.
An example of goal setting that I do is the following. For my blogging and writing I set very specific goals for the following month. Every week I assess how I am following these goals and write down how I have accomplished them or how I have not succeeded that week. At the end of each month I assess how the weeks went and then adjust my goals for the next month accordingly. Goals MUST be attainable and realistic or they will only be a hindrance and a stress rather than a help. See my post on 5 Ways to Fail at Goal Setting to get more of an idea as to how to set these goals.
2. Focus on the real reason behind it all. When we begin to lose our initial excitement we may also forget why we started in the first place. Write down a list of reminders as to why you began so that you can stay focused on why you are chosing to continue this project. I often need to look back at my 'real reasons' for both jewelry making and blogging so that I do not find myself getting side tracked or caught up with comparison, money, or being noticed by others. See my post The Point of Writing to see why I write and how I allowed myself to forget the real reason.
3. Have Accountability. Accountability can be awkward and hard to begin. It may not feel natural to start off with, but having accountability will be an extreme motivation on those days where you are completely out of any motivation. Talk about your goals and projects with others and be sure to ask at least one person to ask, push, and talk to you about your progression. Some accountability works well every day while others you may only need to touch base with once a month. For my devotions, I have an accountability partner whom we text every single day to make sure we are taking the time for Bible reading. This has been tremendous in keeping me steady and consistant with my devotions. For my blogging, I count on you guys for my accountability -- I know that I am expected to write 2 to 3 posts a week and to not do so might let my readers down, confuse my audience, or have people stop following all together. (Last week I failed at this!) Accountability is key to keeping you in check with your goals and above all, your discipline.
*Be disciplined and see that to be so can be a joy, not a burden.*