This is the 4th installment in the series 10 Habits of Highly Effective Exercisers, taken from Steven Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

This is probably my favorite habit because this is the habit of personal discipline.  You may be wondering why a habit about discipline is my favorite.  That's a great question.  The answer lies in the depth of the habit.  There are so many angles you can use to achieve success.  For example, some days you just have to be super disciplined and just do what you need to do, regardless of whether or not you actually want to do it.  You just have to power through.  By contrast, there are other days where you feel super inspired to just roll your sleeves up and dive in. It's almost like you can't wait to do what you were supposed to do anyway.  Then there are days when you're somewhere in the middle.  Each type of day takes a different method of motivation to get stuff done. So I guess the reason I'm so excited about this habit is that it's really about motivation.  I'm always interested in finding out what makes people "tick!"

Obviously, we don't need to spend a whole lot of time on how to motivate yourself through the inspired days, but the question comes to mind of how to motivate yourself through the hard days, let alone the darn-near-impossible days!

The way I see it, there are two things that slow down motivation, other than lacking physical energy like being sick or tired.  The first is when you have tasks that seem painfully mundane.  These are the tasks that don't pay off in the short term, but over the long term.  Your day-to-day workouts are like this.  So is eating boring salads (my apologies to salad lovers, no offense intended ... I actually love salads myself!).  There is no one workout or one meal that will bring you measurable results.  It's easy to get lost in the monotony of workout after workout and meal after meal.  This is especially true when more attractive options not only exist, they smack you in the face!  It's not easy, but you make the right choices because you know that the short term "pain" will lead to long term gain.  And, while tangible results are not apparent from any singular effort, you know that the accumulation of these right decisions will ultimately pay off in dividends down the road.

The other motivation drain would be things that force you outside of your comfort zone.

Maybe you're supposed to move up to a higher weight on your bench press.  Maybe you're experiencing peer pressure to skip a workout or eat unhealthy food (yes ... PEER pressure!  It still happens all the time).  You may not even be able to identify the scenario that's making you anxious, but you're really dreading the situation.  This may all seem kind of silly when it's written out, but when this situation manifests itself, it's a real problem.

These are some of the little "obstacles" that life throws at you to find out how committed you are. 

If you are committed, you'll find a way.  If not, you'll find an excuse. 

As uncomfortable as it may be to make the right decisions, whether from boredom or from fear, if you want to get to your goal, you will face the challenges.  Imagine going shopping, and you see something you want to buy.  One of the first things we do is look at the price.  How much is this going to cost me?  Then we make the decision whether or not to continue pursuing the item.  The same is true of your goals.  Figure out the cost, including the above mentioned challenges, and decide if it's worth the "price" you have to pay.  If you decide it is, simply pay it!

What is the glue that holds it all together and makes you want to be super disciplined or super bold? 

We know we're going to have to go through some really uncomfortable stuff ... and we know we're going to have to do a LOT of work ... so what in our right minds can make us willing to put ourselves through this?

The answer is your dream. 

Your dream can't be to see a certain number on the scale.  That's not enough.  I know when someone tells me they want to weigh 125 lbs, it not a strong enough motivator to carry them through the discipline or the discomfort.  If that's the only goal, then this person will typically skip workouts and cheat on meals way more than is allowable.  That number on the scale is really only representative of what you really want. 

For me, I know that when I weigh 187, I feel great, I look great, I perform better, and I have more confidence.  These are the things I'm really after, and I'm sure if you dig deep enough, you can find the things that you're really after. 

Ask yourself, "why do I want to weigh xxx?"  See how that feels.  Does it make you want to get going RIGHT NOW?  If not, then keep digging.  You'll find it. 

Stay in touch with the "super why" and you'll never lack motivation!