Ever set a resolution and break it? If so you are like me and every other human on the planet. Whether we are focused on being more generous, a healthy lifestyle, improving a relationship or some other goal we set for ourselves, most of us can relate to that moment when our brains say “I’ll start tomorrow.” Even though today IS yesterday’s tomorrow, and we have planned to “start tomorrow” hundreds of times.

We talk a lot about discipline: What it takes to actually accomplish what one sets out to do. Science around motivation, will power and positive psychology have a lot to offer in terms of changing behavior over the long term.

Goal setting (and system implementations, see 2/3/21 post) are often pursued because we are trying to improve something. We want to make a positive change. But often we fail to consider the implications of not acting. It’s as if we think there are two choices: Improve or stay the same. But really we don’t stay the same if we don’t execute, there is a price to be paid for non action that we don’t recognize as often as we set goals.

A well known quote by Jim Rohn captures this nicely:

“We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.”

What does regret look like? Feel like? What are the implications of routinely breaking promises to ourselves, not achieving goals we think are worthy of our effort? How much energy do we spend in “regret” rather than celebration?

Next time you are about to break a commitment to yourself, or someone else, try fast forwarding in your mind to later in the day, week, month. In the moment it made sense to “start tomorrow” and throw in the towel, but if we can anticipate the experience of future regret, and weigh that against a choice to be disciplined, we have a better shot at staying the course.

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