By Paul Yung
Ever heard of “when there’s a will, there’s a way”? This popular saying is often associated with motivation and grit. It’s meant to tell us that if we want something bad enough, we will find a way to get there. I have a different mentality. I believe that discipline will bring you to places that motivation can’t.
I’m not sure how many times I have tried (and failed) to lose weight, start something new, make a sales call, finish an article, fix something at home or meet new people to network. Each of these actions require me to break out of my comfort zone, and often times my early motivation fizzles out as quickly as it started out.
Recently, I’ve tried something different. Instead of relying on motivation and grit to get something done, I started scheduling my time. I started by writing out 3 goals I would like to achieve within the next 6 months, 1 career goal, 1 personal goal and 1 family goal. Then I printed out a weekly schedule and just like a school timetable, I started blocking out my calendar over the week for the activities that will bring me closer to my goal.
For example, I blocked out an hour a day to work out. Then, whether I feel like it or not, I put on my exercise shoes and head to the gym. Once I’m there, I will naturally start to exercise. Bingo, exercise goal ticked off for the day.
There are many psychological reasons why scheduling works. Scheduling puts our mind at ease. We don’t get distracted with lingering thoughts and justify our inaction with excuses. This reduces cortisol, the stress hormone, and after ticking off the activity for the day the dopamine-hit gets us motivated to conquer the next thing on our schedule.
You may think that scheduling would make life unpredictable and boring. Here’s the reality, if you don’t have a conscious schedule, chances are you have a poor, unconscious one already. Try this exercise. Write down every activity you did yesterday and today from morning till evening. You will notice a pattern. Whether it’s reading a newspaper in the morning or watching Netflix before bed. Scheduling makes life more colorful and interesting because we make time to get the things we need to be done instead of stressing over it when time is tight.
The point is, if you don’t take control of your time, you are surrendering control of your time and going with the flow. While there’s nothing wrong with letting go from time to time,
I have met people who have succumbed to the ebb and flow of time only to wake up realizing they have lost years or even decades of time.
Every one of us has a finite amount of time. What each of us does with the time we are given compounds. You may not see results eating one healthy meal, reading one page, or making one sales call. Doing so consistently, over time, you can be among the very best of your category or industry. What will help you consistently work towards that goal, to make that change, is a schedule.
Finally, I wanted to leave you with this thought. Just as whatever you make time for, manifests, whatever you don’t make time for, disappears.
No time for your business? It will eventually die off.
No time for your health? Your mind and body will pay the price eventually.
No time for family? Eventually, even this will go away.
When you make time for something, it will happen. I believe that each of us has the potential to design the future we desire. One of the best tools to help us get there, is a schedule. Start one today, your future self will thank you.
PS: I wish all Malaysians safe voting in GE15. Vote wisely, our future depends on it.