Focus is a Mac app that blocks distracting websites like Facebook and Reddit. Download Now

Why discipline beats motivation for reaching your 2016 New Years Resolutions

It’s the beginning of a new year, which means everyone is thinking about ways to improve their lives using New Years resolutions.

Whether we want to loose weight, eat healthier, write a new book, start a business, etc…—New Years is a motivational time to rethink the year ahead and vow to make our lives a little closer to the ones we imagine.

Why then, are only 8% of people successful at achieving their resolutions?

The answer is simple.

Most people rely on inspiration and motivation–so when the motivation tank runs dry, the resolutions go with it.

Inspiration & motivation are at an all time high at the beginning of the New Year. This is why gyms are packed on January 1st, and a little less on January 15th, and almost back to normal levels by January 30th.

Building new habits is hard. So what can you do to break the cycle?

The answer is simple (but not easy).

Rely on self discipline to build habits and achieve your resolutions. This is what I do, and what many other people have found helpful.

Use your motivation/inspiration to commit to a system of doing something every day. Then do it.

That’s it. Even if it’s tiny. Even if it’s a copout. Do it anyway. Do it every day. Do it at the same time if you can, but do it every single day.

Is your goal to exercise more? If it’s 11:59pm and you forgot to exercise, drop down and do 5 pushups. Was it the most successful day ever? No, but it wasn’t zero and you didn’t break the chain. Resolve to do better tomorrow. And then do it.

After a string of successful days, this starts to become automatic. Then your constant, daily action actually begins to fill up the motivation tank and inspires you to keep going.

But remember, discipline is the way to build habits.

A few other tips:

  • Some people find committing to just 30 days helps get started. At day 31 you can decide to keep going (If you made it this far, I bet you keep going)

  • Others find committing to another person helps. I don’t personally do this, but know many people that do.

  • What if you do break the chain? Vacation can be a hard time to keep up with discipline. Don’t beat yourself up. Do your best, and either “make up” the days or just keep going. If you’ve been doing it long enough, you’ll feel a strong urge to get back on track.

  • What about habits that aren’t good every day? Like exercise, where rest days are needed? I rotate workouts to minimize this—but also allow meditation as a workout day. This gives my body an off day when I really need it.

  • After a habit is solidified (usually 30 to 60 days), I either tweak it based on what I’ve learned or add another one and start the whole process over. Seeing dozens of positive habits develop over the year is inspiring and motivating. It greases the wheel of self discipline.

What do you want? Commit to doing something every day. Then do it.

Start today!


Download Focus and steal back your productivity. Get more work done, stay in the flow and create your perfect work environment with 1-click.

Stay up to date with the latest Focus updates and news