The Art of Discipline
By Heather L. Dyson
The new year often brings a reset that inspires many of us to revisit our goals and commitments. New Year’s Resolutions are a popular tactic as we face a fresh start and look ahead into a year of possibilities. In reality, many people abandon their New Year’s Resolutions mere weeks after setting them, leading to discouragement, disappointment, and feelings of failure and frustration. Even in the face of excitement and motivation, these goals still seem to slowly slip away and fall to the wayside. What is the root of creating change, and how can we harness the right energy to keep our goals front and center all year long?
It is important to first understand the difference between energy and integrity. There is an old saying that states, “Enthusiasm is easy. Dedication is hard.” There is a great deal of truth to these words because we often fall victim to positive energy and use this as our motivator, sometimes waiting until the mood strikes to finally go for that run or clean out the garage. Unfortunately, energy waxes and wanes and can be unpredictable and therefore unreliable in keeping you on track with your goals. Building new habits takes consistency, which is why it is critical to make a commitment to the things you want regardless of your daily mood. The true difference between success and failure is simply following through on things even when you don’t feel like it.
This is the art of discipline. While this concept is simple, improving your own self-discipline isn’t always easy. We are inherently always searching for the most efficient way to accomplish things so that we can conserve energy, and oftentimes this manifests in avoiding or putting off the things that require extra effort. With the following steps, you can practice the art of discipline and create opportunities for personal growth and development to achieve the things you really want in life.
First, accept responsibility. You are in control of what you do and don’t do, and by letting go of the excuses, you can take more ownership of your actions. While life certainly has a way of creating inconveniences, it is important to recognize that there is still a choice that lies in how we react to these circumstances. By making this commitment to yourself and owning your choices, you can empower yourself to make better ones.
Next, determine your action steps. Planning and acting are two very different things. While planning is an important step in getting what you want, all the preparation in the world isn’t going to enact change. It is better to just start doing the things you want and learn as you go, instead of pursuing endless information to prepare for the challenge. One minute of action is better than months of planning.
From here, create your routine. You likely already have some habits formed that are second-nature to you, like brushing your teeth or making your bed. You don’t usually give these habits a second thought, which is the goal in forming new habits. At some point, you want your new habits to feel like they are just another part of the day instead of an extra burden. A trick to adding in new tasks is to stack them with habits you already have. If you want to walk on your lunch break, put your running shoes next to your fridge or by your lunchbox at work. Establishing systems for change makes all the difference.
Temptations, fatigue, and other external factors will play into your life as you pursue your new goals. It is important to consider your reactions to different scenarios that may come up so you can stick to your goal. With this, you can identify the things that may get in your way and determine how you want to handle them as they come up so that nothing gets you off track, at least for long. When you do get sidetracked or pushed off course, remember to reserve judgment and practice self-compassion. No one is perfect, and life is often complicated even when we don’t want it to be. The important thing is to never let these obstacles keep you down so long that you lose sight of what you really want.
Finally, committing to the plan you set can help to solidify the promises you are making to yourself. For most people, things don’t feel real until we can see them on paper. In some cases, signing a contract with yourself can make it feel more serious and encourage greater commitment. Coaching is another great way to further develop the art of discipline and build new habits, whether for exercise, diet, or any other part of your well-being. Once our gym is open, we will be offering personal training and nutrition coaching services to help you get the support you need to accomplish your goals. Stay tuned for more details coming soon!
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