A few thoughts:
From the outside, I probably look like a disciplined person: I practice horn every day, I write the Morning Pages almost every day, I get up early, I have a great garden (and do the work that requires), I eat a lot of fresh fruits & veggies, I avoid consuming unhealthy things, I am organized, I have a successful teaching studio, and so on.
But, self-discipline and I don't get along at all, at least not for long. In my book, self-discipline should only be for completing something you have to do now (say, taxes on April 14) or for a few minutes here and there for overcoming inertia—the "not moving so it's hard to get moving" kind of inertia. If I make myself do things I'm just not in the mood for, it doesn't take long for me to get pretty darn grumpy.
So how does my life work? For the most part, I do things when I want to do them, eat what appeals to me, avoid foods/drinks that make me feel ill, and keep things neat because I like living in a clean space. I keep a To-Do list for reference, and I enjoy checking things off, but I'm willing to cross off things that I've lost interest in. There are times when I'll use a small dose of self-discipline to get started on something or go outside to work in colder weather, but if I still feel resistance after 5 minutes or so, I go do the thing that I want to do more, even if the appealing thing is "non-productive."
If I feel unmotivated, if there's nothing I want to do, and/or if I start to have trouble getting up early, than it's a signal that there's something I need to change.
Often the thing I need to change has nothing to do with the signal, and sometimes it takes me a while to acknowledge that I need to take action. Last fall I had a 3-4 week slump, and it was a signal that I needed to address my relationship with a manipulative relative, someone who I had considered a close friend. Several times, when I've had 3-4 mornings in a row that I didn't want to face, I realized that it was because I was too worried about my dad again. (As much as I love him, I can't change him, and I can't save him from himself.) Sometimes it's because I have added too many things to my schedule and not given myself enough alone time. Most recently, my husband was too busy and I needed more of his attention and affection.
My motivation is my barometer—if I'm doing well, I do what I love, I love what I do, and I accomplish a lot.
For me, imposing goals or personal development (some kinds of PD, anyway) from the outside results in 2-5 weeks of productivity or change, followed by a slump. Working on myself from the inside, addressing my limiting beliefs, acknowledging my fears, and raising my belief in my worth and abilities works best.
Last edited by Kaspian; 05-02-2008 at 05:58 PM.