Hello again Friends,
I want to switch gears today and talk about mindset. The greatest lesson I have learned over the years is that nothing is as important as teaching yourself discipline. On my Instagram stories Monday I shared something about how much I did not want to do my workout that day. I pointed out that I was going to do it anyway because I’ve learned that if I make excuses and allow myself to bail on my plan, I’m only going to allow myself to keep doing it again and again. I realize that in the past, this is why I have failed at any health or wellness routine that I’ve tried to establish.
And so here I am at 36 years old, finally understanding why I have failed so much in the past. It’s because I did not have the discipline to stick it out. It’s because I allowed myself to make excuses and to skip out on the plan I had put into place to accomplish my goals. And the more I did it, the more I allowed myself to do it – until sooner or later all of the progress I had made was undone. So that is what I want to talk to you about today: discipline.
The first step of establishing discipline, is commitment. It doesn’t matter what you would like to do or what your plans – if you are not committed 100%, wholeheartedly all in, you’re setting yourself up for failure from the start. So step one is commitment. Decide that you are going to do something, and tell yourself that’s it, I’m doing it, no excuses, turning around or backpedaling.
The second step, once you know your goal and have made the commitment to yourself to work towards it, is to make a plan. This means thinking of what you will need to do in order to reach your goal, and breaking it down into steps that you will follow to get there. It is much like following a recipe – in order to make a cake you have to know all of your ingredients, and then how to put the ingredients together in the best order so that they can become cake!
Once you have your plan, it’s time for discipline. When you first start out towards a goal, it’s usually easy. You’re excited about it, you’re looking forward to it, and you have all of the ambition and motivation in the world to get you going. The problem is, once the new wears off and you’re past the start and it’s time to hold a steady pace, the demotivation starts to appear. Once you start feeling the lack of motivation, it is easy to start making excuses and backing out.
This is where discipline comes into play. If you’re depending on willpower alone, it’s never going to happen. Like Mel Robbins says – you’re never going to feel like it. So stop waiting to feel like it, because it’s never going to happen! So I have one word for you – a word you might already be tired of hearing but it’s going to keep coming. Discipline!
I was talking to my oldest son, Hunter, on our way to visit family last weekend and had talked about some plans that I had. He looked at me incredulously and said, “I swear, do you just have every minute of your life planned out? I don’t know how you do it.” In all fairness he has ADHD, so he coming up with a plan and sticking to it is harder than average for him, and the idea of structure can be overwhelming. But I also told him that precisely because of his ADHD, structure and planning ahead is even more important for him because it will help him stay on task and not get distracted trying to figure out what he needs to be doing.
I also told him the the only thing I have planned out long-term are my finances. Everything else is mostly week-to-week and includes checklists for certain things I do on certain days of the week – my cleaning schedule and workout schedule for example. That way I’m not stuck trying to figure out what to do with my time – I just open my notes on my phone, go to the current day of the week, then get to work on those tasks and check them off as I complete them. So yes, I am a planner, because planning and structure helps maintain discipline.
When things are planned, it saves you from having to muster up the energy to do something. All you have to do is look at your paper/notes/calendar/wherever you have your plan, see what needs done, then set out doing it before you have time to talk yourself out of it.
If you are starting to feel resistance about doing something, that is the moment you get yourself up and set to work doing it without hesitation. Because if you don’t, and you allow your brain time to keep coming up with excuses and reasons for why you shouldn’t or why it’s okay to skip or put it off until later, you’re probably going to give in and bail on your plan.
The best way to learn discipline from the start, is to immediately take action the moment you feel resistance or hesitation. Cut it off at the knees so it doesn’t have a chance at gaining power over you.
Another trick as part of your plan to help you establish discipline, is accountability. This usually involved another person, like an accountability partner. How it works is you tell someone your plan and have them check in with you to see if you completed your tasks. They may be doing something similar and need you to do the same for them. Just knowing that you will have to answer to someone will help you resist temptation to back out or put something off, and help you establish discipline. For me, my accountability partners are all of you! I know that I will be writing to you about health and wellness, so if I’m doing something and suddenly stop, I will have hundreds of readers to answer to!
Once you do this and it becomes habit, you will feel that struggle and resistance less and less. I can’t say you will never feel it again, but it will be less frequent. And when it does come up you will be much better equipped to overcome it and continue on with the healthy habits you have built for yourself.
If you do give in to the resistance – forgive yourself and start again. It is built into human nature to be lazy and use the least amount of effort possible. That is our body’s natural way of trying to conserve energy. So in a way, in order to establish discipline, you are fighting against human nature. And really, that is why so many people fail, myself included. Human nature is strong, so in order to succeed you have to make yourself stronger than the very nature that is built into you, and that is tough. But it can be done with commitment and persistance!
That is truly the secret to success. There is no easy route and there are no quick fixes. Any expectation of ease and simplicity will automatically work against you. Simply put – in order to get results, it is always going to require effort, and it’s always going to take you outside of your comfort zone. It isn’t easy, but anyone and everyone has the potential to do it with some discipline.
We also all have the potential to make mistakes and fail. In fact I would wager that every single one of us has, and still will, make mistakes and fail. When it happens – know that failing does not mean you are a failure. It doesn’t mean that you can’t do it or that you are not capable. It doesn’t mean that you’re lazy or unworthy. It only means that you are experiencing the same struggle that every single person who has found success has experienced. So be gentle with yourself, and be forgiving. Then go back and start again. Start as many times as you need to, and don’t be discouraged. The only way to fail is to give up completely.
At the start, however many times you need to go back there, enter with this formula in mind:
Goal –> Commitment –> Plan –> Discipline