By Leah Hasse
In my role as a mother, there is no shortage of things demanding my attention, and if I took a tally of the number of times a day that I say, “I don’t have time!” I probably wouldn’t like the results. I am working to correct this behavior because I know that time isn’t really the problem. What I am really saying is, “I lack discipline and motivation,” or I am saying, “This is not currently a priority.”
It’s easy to feel bogged down and exhausted, and to push aside goals or desires as a result. I’m interested in many things, so while it’s true that there isn’t physically enough time to do it all, there is enough to partake in that which I make a priority. Like most people, I realized that the things I viewed as chores, instead of as opportunities, were often the first I’d make excuses for. That meant my runs were rescheduled for the ever-coming “tomorrow.” Though I had lofty running goals, it seemed like the never-ending stream of things requiring my care was standing in my way.
The reality I had crafted for myself, the one in which I had no time to go for a run, was a lie. Somewhere along the way I heard or read the quote, “Argue for your limitations and you’ll get to keep them,” and it resonated deeply. I realized that every instance of claiming to be too tired or too busy or too whatever was me silently arguing for things to stay the same. It was me giving myself permission to fail, or not even to try.
I thought back on how I have always strived to live my life – to put discipline before motivation. I realized that somehow I had gotten to the point where I lacked the discipline I once had. Like many people, I didn’t first recognize the trap of “I don’t have time” as being a discipline problem. I thought of myself as the victim of a never ending cycle of having to choose between my runs and other responsibilities. I failed to realize that while I wanted to run, I was thinking about it in a negative way that made it easy to push off. Think of every person in your life who has made some grand claim about how they’re going to start exercising and then skillfully crafted a never-ending list of why they never begin: that was me with running.
Once I identified the root of my problem, it was a relatively easy fix. I just ran. Even when I don’t want to, I found that time could be found hidden in the cracks of the day.
Finding time often feels like you’re wringing out a cloth – when there’s no more water left, you squeeze a little harder and a few more drops fall. With time, you have to identify the places you haven’t tried already. My husband has an irregular work schedule, so for me, some days that means the only time I have to run is while he eats dinner with the kids. Some days that means I get both boys to bed and I run at night. Some days the kids get brought along in the stroller despite the inevitable outpouring of whining that will ensue.
Finding time squished between the days’ main events often means that I don’t have a reliable running schedule. It also means that I don’t always have a large chunk of time set aside for myself, but it does mean that the time is there if I am disciplined enough to take it. And hey, a 25 minute run is better than no run at all.
I do not downplay other people’s responsibilities, nor do I know the details of anyone else’s life or schedule, but I do know that every person who lets go of the fruitless pursuit of motivation in the name of discipline, finds the time they’ve spent months, or even years, looking for. Motivation does not beget discipline: it is from discipline that motivation sprouts.
Like all life skills, discipline is one that is honed over time, and requires constant upkeep. I have found that the only way to create more discipline is just to buck up and attack the thing I’ve been avoiding. Calling myself out also helps me to keep on track and to be honest with myself when I start slipping.
I am not perfect. Discipline is a hard quality to refine and build. My running ebbs and flows, with some months being better than others. Also, as the seasons of life shift, so do my interests and priorities. Unlike in the past, I don’t make excuses, I am simply honest about my faltering discipline, and start looking for opportunities to fix it, or I own the fact that I am letting something go.
Though I am a constant work in progress, I have become much more than I was. If I waited until I was motivated to do anything, I would still be waiting for all of my best adventures to happen. I wasn’t motivated to go on any of my best runs, but I did anyway, and unsurprisingly I became more motivated as a result. Build discipline, and watch the motivation follow.
Leah currently lives in Germany with her family. She loves everything related to the outdoors, and can often be found hiking or camping with her husband and two children. She enjoys traveling, studying languages, and taking random classes online to learn new skills. She hopes to use her writing to bring people together and to challenge biases surrounding motherhood.