So Ahab went home, sullen and angry because Naboth the Jezreelite had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.” He lay on his bed sulking and refused to eat.1 Kings 21:4
Confronted with a failed business venture, King Ahab retreated beneath his duvet cover. Unmotivated, he hid. He lacked any forward momentum. Therefore, he remained stuck and his kingdom eroded under his listless leadership.
Prepandemic I was working out with a single 20-something year old guy. He confessed that though he woke up at 5:00am to workout with us middle-aged guys, after the workout he would drive back home, climb back into his bed –without showering– for another hour of sleep before he tela-commuted to his online job. At 8:30, he would stumble to his computer — still unshowered and in sweats–to begin his daily grind. I tried to help him see that these hygiene habits may be why he was still single.
When counseling men who have remained unemployed for an extended time, I encourage them that every morning they should complete the three S-s: Shower, Shave and See-someone. Otherwise, I have noticed that men will easily default to their passive tendencies that magnify during these seasons that they felt aimless, purposeless and ineffective. The simple discipline of showering, shaving and getting out of the house to see someone can help propel a man forward.
It’s a small step, but every ultramarathon I have run begins with small steps forward.
Motivation may spark a new habit, but it will not sustain us. Motivation is the worst catalyst to make sustained improvement in our lives. No one is motivated to eat kale; it requires discipline to do so.
There are mornings that I am not motivated to run. A simple practice I have found that can thwart my unmotivated spirit is to simply put on my running clothes. To dress the part. Through years of regular running, I have built a practice that as soon as the running clothes go on my body an internal clock will begin and within 30 minutes I guarantee you, I will be outside running. The physical routine trumps my emotions. I may not be motivated to run, but muscle memory will suddenly remind me that running is what I do in this outfit. It is the discipline to do the smallest of efforts that propels me out the door.
Similarly, I have a chair in my office that I sit in every morning to read and pray. This physical space provides the discipline to remain regularly rooted in prayer and scripture reading — even on days when I am not motivated.
Therefore, what area of your life needs more discipline than motivation? What is a small practice – like the 3Ss, putting on your running clothes, or daily sitting in the same chair – that could begin the process of building a regularly, healthy, sustainable habit?