Friday, January 07, 2005

The Three Keys

There are three things you have to have before you can accomplish something:


You've never done anything in your life that you didn't want to do.

It's true.

Now keep in mind, I'm not saying you were excited about doing it, or that it was the thing you wanted to do most. You might have been motivated by fear of consequences (like getting fired) or by emotion (in that you didn't think through the consequences, but acted impulsively), but for some reason, good or bad, you wanted to do it when you did it.

I'm also not saying you wanted all the consequences. An abusive husband may not want his wife to leave him when he hits her, but at the time, he wants to hit her, for whatever reason his sick mind has dreamed up.

But at some point, you have to muster up enough excitement, anger, fear, logic, or insanity to want to do whatever you do. If you don't, you just don't do it.


The magical thing about discipline is that discipline actually decreases the amount of desire you need to accomplish something.

An undisciplined person might need a lot of factors to enter the picture before they're willing to start making changes. Maybe it's creditors calling every day, maybe it's a doctor warning them about the health risks of their lifestyle, maybe it's something else.

Discipline is about a balance between your natural man instinct to get by with the minimum amount of effort and the inherent desire for greatness most of us possess--the desire to be the best we can be.

Discipline is a matter of overcoming those natural tendencies to, as the saying goes, put off what we want now for what we want most.


Of course, desire and discipline are worthless if you don't know how to do whatever it is you're striving for. So a little bit of learning may be necessary to get us where we want to go.

We live in an age, though, where we suffer from both information extremes. Sometimes we know absolutely nothing about things.

Other times, we suffer from information overload. One study will say a high protein, low carb diet is the way to go. Another study will say a low fat, low sodium diet is the way to go. Yet another study will say you only have to eliminate sugar.

Is it better to get out of debt, or to build monthly cashflow by leveraging? Is it better to do cardio or weightlifting?

Hopefully, this year I'll sort through a lot of that by experimentation and explanation. We'll see what medical science backs and what it doesn't, and we'll even see what works and what doesn't in the brutally honest laboratory of real life.

But the knowledge will only be part of it. The other two keys, desire and discipline, are just as vital to the process as knowing how to do it.

In my case, the weak link has always been discipline. There's no good time for exercise. Rolling out of bed to exercise in the morning is hard. Exercising after a full day's work is hard. I read a study that said the optimal time for working out is 4:00 in the afternoon. Who's got time to exercise at four in the afternoon?

Not me.

That's part of why I created this blog. It creates accountability. My measurements, weight, and (Coming Soon!) my debt are right there in the corner for everybody to see. The increased pressure increases my desire and motivates me to be better disciplined.

If you haven't done something yet, you have to figure out which of these things is stopping you. Resist the natural inclination to find an external obstacle. If you have one you've been blaming, think about which of these three keys you'd need to overcome that obstacle.

Do you need more knowledge, to know how other people got around it? Do you need more discipline, to divert resources from other parts of your life into overcoming that obstacle? Or do you need more desire, since your desire to cling to the obstacle are so great?

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