Mastering self Discipline
Posted on 21st January 2022 at 15:50
“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments”
We can all admire the super disciplined health freaks, in our best lives, we get up early and post a pic on insta of our six pack and a watch face showing how early it alongside a few motivational quotes.
We then run a few miles, slurp a spinach and organic tofu smoothie before sitting down to meditate, read something inspiring and spend the rest of the day fuelled by the power of uber smugness and a glow of self-satisfaction.
But, as much as we awe at those who are winning at life, who just make time for it, no excuses etc, we are in the process of becoming all too aware of our own failings and guilt ourselves towards another doughnut.
I occasionally write articles for my own self-interest, in the hope that it might also benefit others going through the same issues.
For sure I am the doughnut grabbing failure scrolling past multi-millionaire success icons whilst I hold back the tears.
I workout regularly, at least five times a week, I meditate, eat mostly healthy, have a good relationship with my wife and kids and have a job I love and pays well enough.
Yet I know I am capable of more, so much more.
So, I’ve been researching and putting a lot of thought into re-evaluating how to continue making some improvements in my own life and in the lives of those I coach.
Rather than write up the magnus opus which this subject deserves, I’ve whittled it down to five points to improve your own personal discipline.
What ever actions we decide to undertake to see big improvements, will need to be turned into habits, and maintaining those habits will require some kind of discipline.
Point One, Confidence
Before you can do anything, you need to at least believe it’s possible, not just that its possible for other people, but that it is possible for you.
We are doomed from the start if we can’t get past this first basic principle. Perhaps it’ll be hard to achieve, lots of obstacles, but if your mind can’t imagine you succeeding in this endeavour then it’s a no go.
Consider options, maybe you don’t believe you can run a marathon, no problem, how about a ½? No, OK how about 10k, or 5k?.
Reduce the goal down to the point where you are confident you can achieve it, still have the bigger goal in mind so you can progress onto the next phase.
Building Confidence and Motivation task
There is a coaching technique I’ve occasionally used called the to do list. It’s a simple task of writing a list of at least three things you will definitely do. For that reason, I suggest starting at what might seem a ridiculously small and easy challenge, such as having a small glass of water that day or spending just two minutes walking. As you do the list each day, you begin to feel more confident in your own word, you become the person who does what they say they will. As the weeks go by you gradually begin to increase the challenges on your to do list knowing you'll nail it.
Point two, your identity.
How do you see yourself right now? Are you the kind of person who is careful about what they eat? do you make time to work out? can you set challenges for yourself?
To become someone who is fitter and leaner and healthier, you must think about what kind of things a fitter, leaner and healthier you would have to do to maintain that status.
After all this isn’t meant to be round trip, once you arrive at your desired destination, how can you ensure you get to enjoy the stay long term? It might mean changing some long-held habits, which brings me neatly onto the next point.
Point three, plug the gaps.
Gaps are the often small and seemingly insignificant things which ruin our ambitions, for example you want to be leaner, but you also really enjoy cookies, and on any given day you might fall into temptation as your will weakens.
What’s the big deal? One cookie won’t suddenly make you fat, didn’t that handsome Royal Marine, Men’s Health Award Winning Personal Trainer from Hull once say that eating junk food can be part of a healthy lifestyle? It’s not like you want to spend the rest of your live never having a cookie again, is it? What’s the point in living if you can’t enjoy life, it isn’t like your whole career and livelihood depend on your weight.
Now we get to the crux of it, where ambitions go to die. The sweet persuasive whispers of logical rationale for why it’s OK to do the thing you set out not to do.
And the problem is, that voice is right, one cookie won’t make you fat, you should be able to enjoy life. However, if we keep making this decision every time, if we give into our own bargaining often enough, then we fail in achieving our goal. So go grab a handkerchief and sob a little while before starting again next January.
Experience and good coaching will hopefully teach you that the path isn’t straight, there are many twists and turns, with practice and good coaching you’ll figure out when it’s OK to have the cookie, and when you should hold back, even though it’s something you really want at that moment in time.
Identify and plug all the gaps in your life where your good intentions fall apart.
Point Four, aim for excellence, not perfection, get good at failure.
Striving for perfection, and then beating yourself every time you inevitably don’t achieve it, is a recipe for a miserable life of disappointment.
I’ve considered recently that the human default mode is error, perhaps Catholicism is on the right track in calling out our constant sins. We have law enforcement because we know what society would be like given the nature of humans to look out for their self-interest if they can be sure of no repercussions. Society has a an issue with obesity and the issues that arise from this in part due to our biological urges and in built phycological processes.
In short, we should all get used to failing at things, often, if we are to have any hope of ever achieving success. Failing doesn't make you a failure, it makes you a normal human being. As an example new research has found it often takes people at least sthirty attempts to quit smoking, which is rather more straight forward compared to managing calorie balance.
So most of us low life wretched creatures need to improve ourselves in some way, but how?
Aim for Excellence, not perfection.
Excellence is having high standards; perfection is having impossible standards. Those who aim for excellence recognise mistakes and consider how to improve next time so that they learn something and improve, they value the process and the constant re-adjustments required, a perfectionist on the other hand sees their mistakes as evidence of their own inadequacy, it’s a heavy burden to bear.
Whilst the perfectionist over exaggerates all their errors, those who strive for excellence recognises the areas in which they are imperfect and embrace them.
We are often short sighted in our actions, living in the moment of our whimsical desires and strong urges, the person we are today, the body we walk around in, the live that we lead, is in many ways the result of our past selves and the decisions we made.
It’s useful to imagine your future self, and how the sacrifices and actions you take today will benefit you in three months’ time, six months’ time, a year from now, ten years. Going to the gym today won’t make you slimmer tomorrow, but if you do this often enough, it will help you be slimmer soon. Which brings me neatly onto my final point.
Point Five, Consistency is King.
Nobody starts out being excellent with exercise or with good dietary control. It takes time, it takes years of trial and error, making mistakes, learning, improving, failing time and time again but being consistent in their efforts to keep improving and moving on with their health journey.
If there is an ultimate utopian health destination where one arrives and all of lives problems are solved, I haven’t come across it yet, although I hope that one day I’ll be blessed with the same amazing and perfect life all my Instagram heroes seem to have.
I’m still on my own journey with health, I’m still learning, still improving, I’m perhaps further along than others, I’ve chosen to do this for a living and earn the skills to pay the bills, and for this I am blessed, I hope that with my clients, my articles, my videos and public speaking, I can pass on that knowledge and help others move further in the direction they want to go on their health journeys.
Good luck with your own health journey, I hope you found this article helpful. Contact me if you’d like any further assistance. .
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