Discipline, Motivation, and Spark

l was thinking about discipline, and how it pertains to my day to day decision making and why I succeed and fail. I decided to try to visualize it and think explore how I leverage discipline to stay on track.Goal: The goal sets the dotted line and dictates the target you are trying to hit. Good goal setting takes practice, as choosing too lofty a goal means even on your most motivated day, you’ll fall short of meeting the needs of your goal. This is failure before you begin.

Spark: The thing that gets you super excited about this goal. Maybe it’s watching an elite athlete perform an amazing feat. Maybe it’s seeing a photo of your fat ass. Maybe it’s seeing someone with something you wish you had. This spark is the impetus to get you started, but is extremely short lived. Usually lasting a few hours at most.

Motivation: Comes into play next. It ebbs and flows over time. Sometimes, the motivation is more than the minimum work required to achieve your goal, at which point the work is enjoyable and effortless. Other times, it dips below that minimum work line, and you fall off the wagon. Depending on how much time you spend below your ‘minimum work’ line, progress could completely stall, or you might even slide backwards. This might mean you have too aggressive a goal, or it might mean you need to lean on…

Discipline: Discipline is the safety net of wavering Motivation. Discipline is the ‘punching the card’ workout when you feel crummy, or the dedicated hour of study time when you’d rather be drinking. It’s the safety net that keeps you from riding the rollercoaster of motivation into the ground. But Discipline is a budget and depletes the more you use it. When you’re on a downswing, you’re burning up your reserves. Lean on Discipline too much and eventually you run out of it and failure results. Discipline replenishes during the upswings in motivation. Sometimes Discipline keeps you above the ‘minimum work’ line, and other times it falls below and only keeps you from derailing yourself. But it’s critical to use it. And just like gaining strength, it builds over time and you get more of it.

Area under the curve: The total work you perform towards your goal is the area under the line defined by the highest value of the three curves at any time (Spark/Motivation/Discipline).This is all purely hypothetical, but it was illustrative to me to visualize these components and will make me think about how I set goals, as well as giving me some feedback about why I seem to be failing or stalling.

Memento Mori – 4″ Decal

I decided I wanted a symbol that I could plaster around my house to keep the ‘Memento Mori’ theme alive in my mind. I designed these simple stickers and I’m quite pleased with them. I made extras for my friends (you all).

If you’d like to buy one, here’s a link to the webpage: https://www.freewebstore.org/growing-up-guns-e-store/Memento_Mori__Skull_4__Vinyl_Decal/p3687249_16970782.aspx

For those who have joined the blog recently, here’s the post to have all this seem relevant to this blog and possibly important to you in your life: https://www.growingupguns.com/2015/12/28/goal-setting-remember-that-you-will-die/

Thanks for your ongoing support, it means the world to me.


Goal Setting: Remember That You Will Die


Art: Godfred

Memento Mori

Memento mori (Latin: “remember that you can die”[2]) is the medieval Latin theory and practice of reflection on mortality, especially as a means of considering the vanity of earthly life and the transient nature of all earthly goods and pursuits.

-From Wikipedia

Nothing motivates me more than time. Or rather, the lack of time I have remaining. For many, the idea of mortality is a known but abstract idea that sneaks into their head occasionally on sleepless nights. For me, it’s been like a neon sign in my peripheral vision for the last 10 years (since my initial cancer diagnosis). This drives my goals and motivations for getting as good as I can, as quickly as I can, while I can. I’m thankful for that perspective.

When I see my friends squander their time and push off goals and dreams, I give them some homework to correct their course. I want them to have a visual representation of their life, of time passing, and allow that to motivate them as it may.

I’m ripping-off BarefootFTS and their excellent post about this topic.

The idea is simple…

It’s 52 blocks wide and 80 blocks tall. On the top left corner is my birthdate, and on the bottom right is the same date, 80 years later. Every week I mark off a block.

I don’t write anything or make any kind of notes. I just black it out. The only thing left is the memories I have of that week and reality of how it has affected my life. In the end, the only things any of us have are our actions and our memories.

32 years old. My actual chart is on my wall

You should fill this out for yourself. It might be uncomfortable. It might give you a knot in your stomach. Good. Fill it out by hand. Each week should get your reflection. You will be forced to notice time passing. Whether you make the time useful is up to you.

The takeaway is this: Don’t mourn the shaded area. Instead, see the potential in the space remaining. Live your life with a sense of urgency. Do Epic Shit.

Here’s a link to a Dropbox PDF to use.

Edit 1/7/16 Here’s a link to the Memento Mori – Do The Work silicone bracelets I had made right after I wrote this post. I hope it helps me remember and keeps me on track when I’m feeling weak.