It’s been a little bit since we last checked in on our intentional living journey as a collective. Habits are a huge factor in living an intentional life. The habits we intentionally practice significantly impact our mind, body, health, mood, vibration, etc. When I first launched La.Rue, a brand focused on living intentionally, the scope of that conversation was limited to more “tangible” topics. This was for a few reasons, but primarily because I was scared to create my own voice; in many ways, what felt comfortable was reiterating what had already been said in these conversations. Now, this brand still focuses on intentional living. However, the conversation is well-rounded, profound, insightful, and spiritual, which is precisely why I’m excited to check back in on practicing good habits with both motivation and discipline.
A few days ago, a very close friend of mine reached out and asked what advice I had for someone who lacks the motivation and discipline to practice good habits that will change their life. Two thoughts immediately came to mind: one, reframe the vocabulary with more compassion, and two, fear of change. These are both topics we’ve touched on in the past, but not necessarily in this conversation or together. I know I’ve been endlessly mentioning the book Mind Change, and to be quite honest, I don’t think I’ll stop until every person in the world has read it. In the book, McKean talks about the importance of having compassion for negative thought patterns that are now habitual and thanking them.
Motivation is what get’s you started. Habit is what keeps you going.Jim Ryun
Motivation V. Discipline in Practicing Good Habits
Our subconscious mind works overtime trying to protect us. Even when we’re practicing negative thought patterns, our subconscious mind files that away as “proof” so that we don’t change how we think. So the most important thing to remember here is that your mind is trying to protect you. You’re not going to change your habits of procrastination by berating yourself and saying mean things like, “I’m just too lazy to do it.” You must have compassion for yourself and thank your subconscious mind for protecting you. It’s instinctual and does not mean you’re lazy or lack motivation. Not one good thing will come of thinking negative thoughts about your negative thoughts. In fact, you’re only giving those thoughts more power by continuing to think them.
The thing about lacking motivation is wherever you feel in “lack” is usually fear-based. For example, if you’re “lacking motivation” to sit down to write a book, it’s likely for one of two reasons: one, you fear failing at it or not being good, or two, you have a subconscious fear that it could go SO WELL it will change your life—and we fear change! If this sounds like you, you may benefit from listing to the podcast “Is it Imposter Syndrome? Or is it just Your Fear of Success?” The most unproductive thing we can do is sit in guilt, shame, or anger about past negative habits that no longer benefit us. There are several reasons why this is hurtful to our mindset and growth, but one specific reason why this hurts any steps we may take towards creating new habits is the fear we won’t see “progress.”
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Finding the Motivation to Practice Good Habits
When we’re motivating ourselves to practice good habits, that motivation is built on repetition. If your repetition breaks—you have a bad day, you’re too tired, you’re sick—that’s when we begin practicing those unproductive thoughts. So even when we feel better, our subconscious argues that since the repetition was broken, what’s the point in trying again? Your motivation cannot lie in the repetition of habits. You will make progress either way, as long as you’re looking at progress day-by-day. If you believe you’ll only be successful in a habit after X amount of days, you’re setting yourself up for potential failure. If you miss a day, you cannot let that affect your actions for tomorrow. Don’t let one off day set you back and already decide tomorrow will be a bad day. Every day is a new day, so try again.
Practicing good habits is about growth, and growth should be your motivation. We shouldn’t go into this with a mindset of “I don’t like who I am now, so let me change.” Instead, we should be approaching change from the standpoint of compassionate growth. You are who you are now precisely because of who you once were. That person, both past and present, deserves love and kindness. It’s okay to thank them for their part and move forward instead of scolding them for their choices. They were doing the best they could. But you can choose to make different choices and how you show up today.
The Discipline of Good Habits
Motivation is the jumping-off point. Discipline and kindness keep you in the position of building good habits. Take the 75 Hard challenge for example. Although I see the positive premise behind 75 Hard, for most people, it seems too daunting because 75 days is a long time. If you’re just jumping into intentional living, 75 straight days of hard habits sounds very challenging. Which is why when my friend asked me for advice, I told her to take it one day at a time. This is my absolute best advice for hitting a reset and challenging yourself to build new habits. Progress is happening daily, but seeing results takes time.
Each day is a step in the right direction. And if you hit a stop sign one day, that same sign doesn’t need to appear the following day. Changing your life requires more than just discipline and motivation. It requires openness to actually change. When I talk about changing your thoughts to change your life, it’s not just about changing your thoughts to make a difference in your income, relationship status, or tangible/material things. It’s about changing your thoughts so tomorrow you wake up a bit happier, with a willingness and openness to receive, feel peace, have hope, and give love.
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Want to know more?
Head over to the Do the Damn Thing Podcast on Apple or Spotify and listen to the conversation on this week’s topic! The podcast is an open forum conversation where we dive even deeper into all that is intentional living.