Focus, discipline, and motivation

I tend to not like tough sounding self help articles, but the title is enough to get the point of this one: Screw motivation, what you need is discipline. Let me save you the read:

If you want to get anything done, there are two basic ways to get yourself to do it.

The first, more popular and devastatingly wrong option is to try to motivate yourself.

The second, somewhat unpopular and entirely correct choice is to cultivate discipline.

It’s obviously not that simple, but it’s still a valid point. In reality, motivation and discipline are linked. The right motivation at the outset helps you set up the discipline to be successful at something.

I’ve been through way too many job interviews in my life, and most of them focus on motivation. You simply could never say “Look, I’m ambivalent about what the company does, but here’s how I plan to use deep work, my skills, background, and knowledge to make a large contribution.” That’s a bit extreme, but talking about the habits that will make you successful is a faux pas at job interviews. Perhaps not surprisingly, interviews have become ridiculous as companies seemingly have no ability to connect the dots of cause and effect when hiring (that link is worth a look, it’s truly baffling).

The other key is focus. Aptly enough, a coworker got me interested in the concept of Stolen Focus — this interview with the author is really good.

I’ve seen it in my own life and watching others: there’s a complete inability to do what needs to be done, whether that be concreting on studies, putting in the time and effort of a relationship, finishing work tasks well, or something as simple as getting enough sleep before something important, all because you don’t have the ability not to check telegram, facebook, reddit or whatever. Stories of people who threw away great lives because they couldn’t stop drinking have long been cliche, but there are many untold stories of relationships severed, jobs lost, and lives ending in misery because people couldn’t put down their phones.

So yeah, motivation is a good starting point, but discipline and focus are what matters.