Greetings, friends. Let’s discuss discipline.
- The definition: To me, being disciplined is doing everything I know is good for me and my life. Even when I’m tired, cranky, or feeling deeply unmotivated and would much rather sit on the couch in sweat pants playing Angry Birds. Some days it’s easy, others it’s hard and some days…I sit on the couch in sweat pants playing Angry Birds.
- So basically, the training is to learn how to deal with yourself when your thoughts, distractions, mindsets and emotions of right now take a hold of you and you lose focus of the things you always want. For instant gratification or just your temporary desires. It takes a little time and effort, but it’s worth the hassle.
- Decide what you always want to do for yourself. Easy as that. Maintenance stuff such as food and exercise, but also development stuff such as studying or reading. Some recreational stuff as well such as seeing your greatest friends or having dates with your lover. Once you know what you always want for yourself, you can start working with disciplining yourself to do these things in order to feel great and live exactly the life you like best. So what are these things you always want for yourself? How do you want to treat yourself? With an excellent work routine, with a thousand words written every day on your thesis, with an hour of running three times a week, with a vegan diet?
- Figure out your blocks, pitfalls and other moments when you are temporarily distracted from the things good for you. For example, my definite pitfall is when I’m cranky. It then takes me a hundred times more effort to do the right things. Other blocks can be being tired, just waking up, feeling stressed, fighting with your partner, people in your life who belittle what you want to do, etc. I bet you can identify a few of these moments for yourself. Once you do, you can spot them. And ignore them from that point on
- The doing is the habits. Habits are the building blocks of all this. Discipline is not some switch you pull and you’re suddenly running three times a week, cleaning your bathroom faithfully, reading every day, studying with straight A’s and curing world hunger in your spare time. Discipline is a bunch of habits lined up, neatly stacked up against each other, creating a life in which you do all the things you want to do for yourself.
- So create your discipline accordingly: Progressive Training (Habits). Steve Pavlina says it beautifully in this article: you can’t expect to lift a 100 pounds when you can only do 10 reps with a 10 lb. dumbbell.You need to start out small, train, and build up from there. You can’t wake up at 06:00 every day from scratch, but you can build down from 08:00 AM, right? maybe 10 minutes earlier every day? You don’t have to work out every day while you’ve been a couch potato for a year (and you really shouldn’t)! You can start with one work-out a week, and build it up to two. In a year or two you can find yourself exercising easily every day. (All his excellent articles about self-discipline can be found here, but these are my favorites!)
- Realize the Cause & Effect. Discipline becomes a lot easier once you see the positive consequences of your actions. Once you know that four classes of kick-boxing make you feel all empowered and do wonders for your butt, it becomes easier to go to the gym, even on worse days. Once you can tell you’re doing great when you study two hours a day, you are motivated to keep doing it. It might take a while to see the consequences, but once you do it will be a lot easier to keep going. The discomfort of going against your inner whiny ‘I don’t wanna’ is temporary and the reward afterward is much greater.
- FYI: You’re not going to be extremely disciplined tomorrow. And that’s fine. Our problem is that we always want to go too fast. Expecting results by tomorrow we just crash-dive in without taking our humanity and vulnerabilities into account. I refer you to this article about that.
And if there is one thing I really want to remind you of is this: Right now. There is no better time to start, anything. Ever. If you start with a tiny dose of discipline tonight, tomorrow? And if you keep doing that, who knows where you’ll be a year from now? I bet you’ll be at Mount Awesome. Good luck.