Achieving Your Goals Without the Struggle of Self-Discipline

This is a guest article from Amita Patel: 

When I meet new people, I usually get asked one (or more) of the following:

1. How do I pronounce/spell your name?

2. What caste are you?

3. How is what you do different than a therapist?

The first two questions annoy me, while the third gives me an opportunity to talk about my 2nd favorite topic (the first being my dog, Ollie, of course!)

So here it goes: One of the (many) differences between “traditional” therapists and the work I do is that I come from a strengths-based perspective. That means that sessions are less about you bitching about what’s not working, why life sucks, and why everyone else is to blame. Partly because that’s a downer and I don’t want to hear it, but more than that, it’s because that isn’t going to fix shit.

Not surprisingly, in a strengths-based approach we discuss…wait for it…your strengths!

Ok, that wasn’t much of a surprise.

What is a surprise though is how difficult this conversation is for most people.

Here’s How It Typically Goes:

Amita: What are the things in your life that don’t require motivation or “self-discipline?” What do you do without wanting to procrastinate, set alarms, or have any deadlines around?

Client: I guess I work out without anyone reminding me to. But that’s different, it doesn’t really count.

Amita: Why doesn’t it count?

Client: That isn’t “productive” I just do it because it feels good and I like being hot.

Amita: Well a lot of things feel good. Like warm baths, new socks, or mind-blowing sex. But those things don’t really require the motivation that you innately have to work out. So, what makes this different?

Client: It’s important to me. But so is my writing career (Dramatic Sigh).

Amita: So how does working out look different in your life than actions you’re taking in your career? Since exercise is something you value, you’re willing to invest time and energy into it. So what does that process actually look like?

Client: Well, I know when I get home from work that I will go to the gym with my friend. And I’m motivated because I see results so I keep doing it. But who cares if that’s going well? My career is way more important and I’m not getting anywhere there!

Amita: Well, let’s look at your process. Your recipe for success at the gym is:

  1. Scheduling it in as a predictable part of your routine.
  2. Accountability.
  3. A social component.
  4. Fast results that motivate you to continue.

Does that sound right?

Client: Yes.

Amita: Let’s make your work routine mirror that.

The conversation continued with only a small amount of teeth-pulling to include that he would:

  • Add in 20 minutes of writing time each day to write anything (even if all he wrote was that he was pissed at me for making him do it)
  • Check in once per week with his action partner on any new steps or new content he created. (His friend doing the same, of course)
  • Meet weekly with a friend in a similar field to write and bounce ideas off each other.
  • Start submitting his articles to websites to see new results that would encourage momentum.

I should note that my clients aren’t as whiny as that conversation came off.  They are inspiring, incredible, and only rarely irritating.

Here’s How You Can Translate A Strengths-Based Perspective Into Your Life:

When you’re at your best, what are the processes that make you successful? In those moments when you’re motivated and getting things done:

  1. What are you doing differently?
  2. What are you focusing on?
  3. What action are you taking?
  4. Ultimately, what’s your recipe for success?

Decode it. Translate it. Do it.

Author Bio: 

Amita is the Founder of, a coaching services company founded in January of 2013 to empower individuals to create a life they love from a place of self-love vs. self-discipline. As a coach, writer, and wellness expert, Amita works with individuals to break through their barriers and embrace lifestyle change from the inside-out. Her unique approach combines nutrition, physical activity, relationships, career, and personal philosophy. Amita has been featured on CBS, NBC, and the Huffington Post. She received her Master’s Degree from New York University and her Health Coach Certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Continue the Conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

2 Replies to “Achieving Your Goals Without the Struggle of Self-Discipline”

  1. Hi Amita,
    I love how you use prior experiences of success as a personal recipe to be applied to the parts of our lives that we find challenging. Bravo!
    About clients “bitching”, I find that the complaining helps me understand how a client perceives him or herself and their world, and some of the charge in those complaints vanish when they feel heard. A small dose of complaining can allow us to meet someone were they are, with the intention to quickly elevate them to a place where they can take action towards meeting their goals and dreams.
    Thank you for your awesome ideas!
    Elizabeth Danel

  2. Hi Elizabeth,
    I absolutely agree! There’s a difference between bitching and venting in a constructive way. I use it as data to see where clients want to move away from and what they would like to move toward. Thank you for sharing your insight! You’re so right!
    Sending you lots of love for the new year!

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