June 2011 – Goal Achievement!
“Eat your vegetables.” “Sit up straight.” “Brush your teeth.” “Clean your room.” These are disciplines which most of us have heard from our parents. Why did they tell us to do these things? Quite simply, they loved us. They knew these actions would have a positive impact on us. As we get older however, our parents will no longer play the disciplining role in our lives. At first, we may feel a sense of freedom, but soon enough, we will realize that this role must be replaced. For without discipline, our lives will inevitably turn upside down. Therefore, there comes a time in your life where you must replace your parents discipline with self-discipline.
Defining the Term
: correction or regulation of oneself for the sake of improvement (Merriam-Webster)
: the ability to make yourself do things that should be done (Merriam-Webster)
We often hear or use words and forget to really focus on what they imply. Sometimes seeing the definition of a word can help you fully grasp its meaning. To summarize; by practicing self-discipline, you ensure that you do the things that should get done so that your life improves. Remember, the more disciplines you adopt, the greater your quality of life becomes. A discipline can be something as simple as brushing your teeth or something much more demanding such as living a healthy lifestyle.
I have found that the most difficult of disciplines to adhere by are the ones which have not been enforced on us by our parents. For instance, my parents would discipline me in various aspects of my life but making sure to exercise was never one of them. This is probably because, as a child, I would never sit still. However, getting enough exercise is something that becomes more of a factor as we enter into adulthood. As adults, we are faced with more responsibilities, commitments, etc., which often distract us from important disciplines such as maintaining a consistent exercise regimen. Our parents did the best they could but now it’s up to you to govern the disciplines you wish to live by. Keep in mind, new disciplines will require the most inner-strength to follow and for this reason, I have included some helpful tips below on how to strengthen your self-discipline.
Since some disciplines require more effort, I would begin with ones that are easier to follow. For instance, if you have a terrible diet, I would recommend changing only one or two parts of it at first, instead of the whole diet all at once. A good start would be to eliminate foods with added sugars and replace them with fresh organic fruits, especially when you get cravings for something sweet. As your self-discipline strengthens then you may add more and more disciplines to your eating habits. Remember the saying; “Don’t bite off more than you can chew”.
Just Do it!
A common question I receive is; “how do you stay so disciplined?” I believe it is a matter of controlling your mind. You cannot allow your mind to start questioning a discipline. For example, I know that if I brush my teeth in the morning, my breath will smell fresh. Most of us have developed this discipline and will brush our teeth without questioning it. Imagine yourself thinking, ‘Should I brush my teeth today?’ ‘Maybe I’ll do it tomorrow or start on Monday or wait to make it a New Year’s resolution.’ Fortunately, we just do it or else there would be a lot more people with bad breath. And there lies the secret to discipline – just do it!
The moment we begin to question whether or not we should do something that is good for us, we challenge our self-discipline. Therefore, do not make disciplines a matter of choice but a matter of duty. Should I quit smoking? Just do it! Should I exercise today? Just do it! No matter what it is, as long as you know it should be done, just do it! (no questions asked)
Note: To learn more about controlling the mind, I recommend reading part II of my book ‘One Habit At A Time’, which is now available as a paperback. Get your copy at www.habitwatch.ca or directly through me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you enjoy these articles, you may also want to read my other articles/blogs which I have posted on the Habit Watch website.
Make Your ‘NOs’ Big and Your ‘BUTs’ Smaller!
Self-discipline requires that you get acquainted with 2 words – ‘NO’ and ‘BUT’. If you are trying to quit smoking and someone asks you to go outside for a smoke, you must learn to say NO. Not ‘no’ but ‘NO’. What is the difference? The little ‘no’ can be changed into a yes but the ‘NO’ that is required for self-discipline is big; it is unwavering. There is no temptation that can change the big NO. The second word is ‘but’. I want to quit smoking but…I want to exercise but…I want to eat healthy but…I want to improve my life but…and so on. With self-discipline, your ‘BUTs’ get smaller and smaller. You will use this word less and less. Why? Excuses turn into action – you just do what should get done. Here is a basic example of a day full of self-discipline - you wake up to each day; thank the Universe for your life and everyone/thing in it, wash your face, brush your teeth, work out, shower, have a healthy breakfast, kiss your loved ones, review your goals, plan your day, work toward reaching your goals, and so on with no ‘BUTs’. Remember, practice making your ‘NOs’ big and your ‘BUTs’ smaller and you will soon live a self-disciplined lifestyle.
Use an Enforcer!
If you really want to add a discipline to your life such as exercising regularly but cannot seem to build up enough self-discipline to do so successfully, get help. I built up my self-discipline with the help of my martial arts instructor, Martin McNamara of Twin Dragon. For me, he took discipline to a whole new level. After a few years of following his lead, I built up enough self-discipline to not only work out consistently for the rest of my life but to help others gain this self-discipline as well. Sometimes all we need is someone to push us (discipline) in the beginning and soon enough, you will be surprised at how much you start to push yourself. Over the years, I have witnessed this happen many times.
If we wish to improve our lives, self-discipline is a practice we need to incorporate on a daily basis. Our parents did this for us when we were growing up but we cannot rely on them any longer. It is up to you now to discipline yourself. You are the man or woman who must take control of your life. You must continue to do what your parents did for you out of love. Remember, love is the reason; the main guiding force. To discipline yourself is to love yourself; to care about your wellbeing. I hope you still care?
Vaughan Personal Trainer