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Someone asked me how I keep being self-disciplined, I tried to gather my thought and the following things definitely help me stay motivated:

[1] Have a goal/deadline
I had a goal to run a full marathon on May 9, 2014. It was a very clear goal: run 26.2 miles on Mar 9, 2014, so on I went looking up professional training plans and followed one as best as I could (I didn’t follow 100% of it, some days I was too busy, too tired, or sick, but I tried my best), coz I knew if I did not follow the training plan, I could not finish the 26.2 mi (I had completed a 1/2 marathon [13.1 mi] before, and it was already tough for me, so I knew I must properly train for a full). Or, if I use piano exam as an example, I have a clear goal again: pass with Distinction for grade X piano on a certain date, so what I have to do is practicing all material required at the exam (and I did find a teacher to help me), otherwise, why even bother to sign up for the exam? I don’t want to go and fail.

[2] Have the DESIRE to do it
“If you want something badly enough, it can happen.” – this is actually from an Olympic swimmer, if I remember correctly, she was 32 years old at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. I think she’s from Australia. She won a gold medal. She knew 2008 was probably the last year for her to fight for an Olympic gold (next time she’ll be 36, she might not be able to compete with the young swimmers physically), so she trained super hard, she really really wanted the gold medal, and she got it.

[3] Add some external motivation (aka “pressure”)
Tell people what we’re going to accomplish, have them keep us accountable; and we’d better find people who will really kick us if we don’t follow through. This is not the nicest way to help us stay on track but it works. Sometimes, making yourself feel bad if you don’t follow through will have a positive outcome.

[4] Think about the consequence
This might be a bit “negative motivation”. When we get lazy, and we know we can’t afford to be lazy, try to ask ourselves “Can you live with the consequences? Are you willing to make up for lost time? In fact, will you be able to make up the lost time?”

[5] Have companions working towards the same/similar goal
This probably helps the most when we’re doing things that we feel like we’re not “born” to do or want to do. If you’re running a marathon, join a group who shares training progress and articles on running, and go to the race together. But, if there are some things we DESIRE to do (point #2), we can probably do them by ourselves even if people don’t show, we should not care about others’ commitment in those cases. Let’s not have undecided people to drag us down. I recently read a quote – “surround yourself with those on the same mission as you”, don’t let others drag us down.

[6] Believe that you can do it!
Once, in a class, the teacher sensed I wasn’t very sure about myself, and he wrote me “…you’re actually better than what you think you are… Whatever we believe we can be, we become”. I still remember that moment when I read his words. This positive energy is very important. If you don’t think you can accomplish something, or can benefit from doing it, it’s hard to want to keep pressing on, esp when there are struggles. This exact encouragement is what I’m reminding myself of every day – “Whatever we believe we can be, we become”.

[7] Reward yourself on accomplishments
One small step at a time, believe that you are improving and closer to your goal through every little step. This is very cliche – Thomas Edison failed 1000 times before finding the right material for the light bulb. When Edison was asked how he felt after failing 1000 times trying to invent the light bulb, he replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”

[8] Stay positive
There will be negative comments along the way, or people trying to rationalize things with you, remember that talks are just talks, if those talkers are not the ones in the battle with you, then they’re not the ones doing the things WITH you, then, kindly appreciate the outsider comments, digest them, if they make sense, incorporate in your plans, but stay focused and keep believing in yourself! The one accomplishing things and winning the battle will be YOU, not the talkers!

Hope these thoughts are resonating with you.

Here’s the original of 想你的夜, the composer of the song on keyboard and vocals.

Another moving and amazing experience by Shila Amzah! What a smooth and soulful voice, such rich and full tone. Authoritative stage presence also. She’s born to sing!