Why don’t most New Year’s resolutions succeed?
Every January first, people are highly motivated – even if they are fighting a hangover and starting the year slowly – to improve their lives. They are pumped up and ready to go.
So why do nearly all of them fail? It’s certainly not from a lack of motivation.
It’s due to a lack of discipline.
There is a stark difference between motivation and discipline. People are certainly motivated when they make their resolutions, but they fail because they don’t have the discipline to see it through to the end.
They’re motivated on January first, but that is unsustainable. That’s why gyms are packed the first week of January but go back to normal levels by mid-March. It’s also the main (non-physiological) reason why the last few pounds are the hardest to lose. Motivation can help you lose the first twenty pounds, but it takes discipline to lose the last twenty.
Motivation is temporary; discipline is lasting.
It does not just apply to exercise and weight loss. It applies to every facet of life.
I speak from personal experience.
While it certainly took discipline to lose 35 pounds (and a lack of it to gain back a few), it didn’t take nearly as much as when I went back to graduate school again at the age of 40.
It was not my decision. I already had a graduate degree and a graduate certification, not to mention a baby and a young child at home, so going back to school was not in my plan.
I was certainly not motivated, so in order to succeed I had to be disciplined. There was no other choice after working a full day, going to class, and doing homework into the early morning hours. In those moments – when motivation was at the lowest – that discipline carried me.
For anyone (not just 40-year-olds) that want to extend their education to graduate school, I try to make them realize one simple truth: motivation will get you an acceptance letter, but only discipline will get you a diploma.
My favorite example of this is writing.
Everyone thinks they can write a book. However, it’s far more difficult than they realize. That’s when discipline comes in. At one time or another, everyone has had the motivation to write a book, but how many of them do anything about it? I hear all the time about great ideas that people have, but they’ve never written a word?
How many have actually sat down and begun the process? Few.
How many have then grinded all the way to the end, several hundred pages later? Even fewer.
Nearly everyone at one time or another has the motivation to start a book, but so few have the discipline to complete a book.
Motivation is a great starting point, but that’s all it is. A start. It’s discipline that carries us to the finish line.
Christopher Pierznik is the worst-selling author of nine books. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, Fatherly, Hip Hop Golden Age, and many more. Connect on Facebook or Twitter. Please feel free to get in touch at CPierznik99@gmail.com.