Discipline. The word doesn’t FEEL too motivating, does it? And self discipline sounds like the over-achievers guide to hell.
Seriously, my first thought when somebody mentions “self discipline” is the elite athletes who train for hours upon hours upon hours (upon hours). Even when they are sick or just plain don’t want to train. My friend, Ashley, is one of those crazy Ironman people who makes it look easy.
But self-discipline is simply about being disciplined in what we think and do.
With this new chapter in my life (see The Pants Are Expanding and the subsequent posts), I have found myself less productive than I imagined I would / could be with a newborn at home. Both in my health initiatives (hello – who has the energy to work out when you’re constantly up in the middle of the night?!) as well as with producing quality work product and strategizing with my team.
Getting on what we know to be the right track may be difficult, but it’s not impossible. And it’s probably not as difficult as we think it is. It may be as simple as prioritizing, focusing, and getting it done. Even if it means pushing through the discomfort.
It doesn’t matter what “it” is. Maybe it is preplanning and preparing your meals for the week. Or getting out of bed to workout in the morning. Maybe it is planning your sales calls a week in advance. Practicing kinder self-talk. It could be simply intentionally seeing the best in people. Spending quality time with friends or family. Or giving up smoking or drinking or swearing (or all three- haha). “It” is whatever you need IT to be.
Self discipline is all about small and measurable efforts being made consistently and over time. At least that is MY definition of it after tumbling the word around in my mind and heart for more than a month. It is small steps made daily towards your goal. That isn’t so difficult when you break it down that way, is it? Anybody can do something once. One workout. One week of meals or sales calls planned in advance. One time replacing a cigarette with a nicotine patch and some gum. After all, it is for our own good, right? And once you’ve done it for the day, you’re done. Until the next day. But hey, you conquered “it” this time, so you can do it again.
“Self discipline” should not be a scary or negative thing, because it is for our good. Instead of working out being a chore you must do every day in order to lose 30 pounds, think of it as a luxury you have in order to achieve optimum health and energy to live each day. The 30 pounds will come off with the discipline of getting active regularly (and also having the discipline to not eat the donuts your co-worker brought into the office this morning).
I am blessed to be pretty successful in all areas of my life, but I am guilty of often taking the path of least resistance because it was “good enough”. But what if, with just a little bit of self-discipline, I could move the mark from “good enough” to OUTSTANDING? In my health? In my wealth? In my relationship with God? My relationship with my husband? As a new mom to Genevieve? As a mom to my favorite bonus son, Jackson? My friends & family? Seriously. The possibilities are endless with just a little bit of self-discipline applied. The leverage is so enormous that it blows my mind.
Small Effort + Repeated Regularly = Huge Results
So examine the areas of your life and identify one where you can make a small change. And repeat it. And repeat it again. And see what happens. Don’t give up. Be patient. One week of regular exercise won’t transform your body (or whatever your “it” is). But another day will turn into another week that will turn into another month, and THEN you’ll start to see some results. This is applicable to whatever you are focusing on, not just working out…that just happens to be my focus right now.
But here is a cool side effect – you will FEEL accomplished immediately. Hold onto that feeling. And then do it again. And again. And enjoy the feeling of accomplishment being repeated. It’s a beautiful cycle.
Finally, I will leave you with this little nugget. I don’t recall where I heard or saw it, but it resonated with me: THE PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE WILL NEVER MAKE YOU PROUD.
So. Now that I have a little bit of work completed by finishing this post, I’m going to go get a 20 minute walk on the treadmill. Baby steps. (Pun intended.) Tomorrow I might just run 20 minutes instead.
What are YOU going to do? You know you need to do it.