If you’re a high-achiever, you’ve probably put effort into cultivating discipline. Amazing. I’m so glad you did, because it’s foundational to success.
Also though, and hear me out, a little overrated.
So often when someone is disappointed in their own lack of follow-through, it’s Discipline’s fault.
This becomes a problem when high-achievers, who aren’t seeing the results pour all their energy into “muscling through” or looking for more productivity hacks.
All the while they feel more burned out and disappointed in themselves for not being able to create the results they desire.
Let me offer an alternative perspective:
There’s nothing wrong with you.
You’re also not lazy.
It’s just, at a certain point, discipline is no longer the best tool for the job.
When we rely too heavily on it, discipline or willpower alone can zap our energy and block our success.
There are simply more effective ways to motivate ourselves.
This way of working is new to most people, and in this article I’m going to share a secret I’ve found to creating more consistency and results that nobody is talking about.
When we fail to meet a goal or follow-through on a habit, we think this is what is happening:
- Set goal
- obstacle comes up or our “willpower” isn’t strong enough
- We don’t follow through
Here’s what’s actually happening:
- We set a goal
- When it comes time to follow through – part of us really wants to do it, whilst another part of us has something else in mind.
- We feel the push/pull internal battle and depending on a number of different factors* including our energy level, general happiness level, whether or not it’s been an established habit, degree of comfort doing the activity
- Based on who wins the battle in step 3, we either do or don’t do the thing.
Same situation☝️, different levels of awareness.
We hear a lot about the importance of collaboration, within our teams, organizations, but what about within ourselves?
Think about it this way – let’s say you had to leave a parking lot of an auto-shop but there’s a car blocking the only exit.
Pure willpower is: finding the mechanic and telling them “hey, I’ve got to modify my car to make it out the gate. Maybe I need a lift kit and bigger tires to drive over it or maybe I need a push-bar to push it through, but I gotta get through there.”
Inner-Collaboration is: walking up to the vehicle, noticing the owner is inside and asking if they would kindly move out of your way so you can exit. They may say “yeah sure, no worries” or they may say “no way, I don’t want to do that, and then you have a dialogue until you come to a solution that works for both of you.
The key to getting out of the cycle of strong discipline to burnout, or lack of consistency in your follow through isn’t about beefing up willpower and discipline.
When we rely on discipline alone, we override internal wisdom that can contain the keys to our sustained success.
If we really want to shift our habits, create more consistency and achieve our goals, the key is to get curious about what this “conflicting” part wants.
Things my clients have discovered using Inner-Collaboration:
“Part of me loves having sales calls because I love the work I do, but I resist pitching because another part of me is afraid people will judge me as pushy.”
Result: signed 4 new clients in one week.
“Part of me really wants to focus on building my business as an artist-entrepreneur but another part of me keeps wanting to look at job postings because I’m afraid I won’t actually be able to make enough money to support myself.”
Result: surpassed her previous full time income in 4 months of work together.
Here’s the thing, both of these clients were go-getters who had been working on these goals for at least a year using conventional methods.
It wasn’t their fault that they weren’t getting the results that they wanted. They weren’t lazy. They just had been given outdated information about what would help them succeed.
When we grow our self-awareness and include all the internal parts of ourselves we are able take our energy back from any internal resistance and create a strategy we are actually excited to follow through on.
Don’t take my word for it – try it out! The best way to take action on inner collaboration is to start by getting curious about conflicting desires. The next time you notice yourself not taking action or following through on a habit or goal, get curious.
You can use questions like:
“What am I avoiding?”
“What am I afraid will happen if I’m successful?”
“What am I afraid will happen if I fail?”
☝️These few questions alone will begin to shift you into more awareness of your internal desires, resistance, and motivators so that you can have more agency over your action.
What do you think about this approach? Would you be willing to experiment with Inner-Collaboration as a next-level success tactic?