Getting Where You Want to Go – No Matter What!

“Discipline and persistence – there is no substitute.” –Barbara Fagan (

When I was 16, I wanted to get an after school job. I applied at McDonald’s, along with every other 16 year old in Valencia, California. Then I waited for the interview call. Days went by and they didn’t call. My mom said something to me and I think of it to this day. She said, “Go in there and ask about it.” I did. Nothing happened. The next day she said, “Go in again and ask about it.” I did. The next day the same thing. She said to me, “Go in every day until you talk to a manager. Tell them you want a job. Keep coming back until they talk to you. Make yourself impossible to ignore.” I did that and I stood out to them from the other applicants who applied and then walked away. I got that job, but more than that, I learned something – persistence, tenacity, stick-to-it-iveness.

What is discipline? Webster’s has many definitions. The best for our conversation is, “controlled behavior” or “a systematic method.” It is choosing a course of action and staying with it day after day, even when you don’t feel like it. It is choosing the actions you believe will get you to your goal and formulating a plan and executing the plan no matter what. It is being committed to the actions you have decided for yourself and not giving up. One of my clients said to me the other day, “Commitment is continuing to do what you said you would even when you don’t want to.” It is going to the gym four days a week because you said you would, even when you are tired or you have a cold or it is raining out.

How do we set a goal? We get inspired. We believe we can do something and decide to go for it. We get a flash of vision and dare to dream it into a reality. We create a plan and say, “I will do that.” We do it for a few days or weeks and then it gets tough and we say, “You know, I don’t think this is going to work.” “This is too hard.” And my favorite, “I wasn’t being realistic when I set that goal.” I believe discipline is continuing to do what you promised yourself, even when the voice in your head is speaking these words of doubt to you. In some ways it is having faith in the person who decided this could work in the first place (the you who decided to go for it). Discipline is a plan you make for you to follow when you are in self-doubt. It is something to stick to when you are afraid it might not work.

Persistence is for me not giving up. Persistence is continuing to take action and move forward even if your plan does not work. With persistence, you make a new plan; you consider a new action; you take new steps. You keep going toward your goal no matter what gets in your way. (“Persist: to be obstinately insistent, repetitious, or tenacious; to hold steadfastly and firmly to a purpose, state, or undertaking, despite obstacles, warnings, or setbacks.”)

With any dream or goal that is outside your comfort zone (as any good dream or goal will be), you can be assured that you will have to stretch yourself to reach the goal and in stretching yourself, you will feel fear, fatigue, self-doubt. Discipline and persistence are the tools that will allow you to continue on, and I promise you, they will enable you to reach your goal.

“Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek.” –Mario Andretti

About the Author

Cami McLaren

Cami McLaren

is the owner of McLaren Coaching. She has been coaching attorneys and management since early 2008. She wrote a book, published by the American Bar Association, "Coaching for Attorneys: Improving Productivity and Achieving Balance." She coaches attorneys and managers one-on-one, and provides in-house training designed to improve productivity and bring accountability to the organization.

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