The Story Goes Like This…
The young man was incredibly undisciplined. As a result, his life reflected what you would expect. Money problems, health problems, no vision of any kind of future, brushes with the law, near misses with death, and a general feeling of despair. Always wondering why he got such a raw deal in life. Why things never worked out for him.
Every day was one of bad habits compounding on bad habits. Instant gratification and self-medication, and often they were the same thing. Years had gone by just like this. Many years.
“Going nowhere” would have bene a typical phrase used to describe this man. And in fact, was used many times by others. How then, could it be possible that eventually, this man would be considered a model of self-discipline?
What Changed and How Could that Be a Lesson for Others?
So okay, this example is yours truly. I’m not saying I consider myself a self-discipline model, I’m saying some people very close to me say this.
Often when I tell someone my story, they are shocked. They can’t envision, given what my life looks like now, that I walked the path I walked. I tell a great deal about this in my book 3 Circles Living.
Progress in life, regardless of the area of endeavor, is achieved by simple steps repeated. This is a fact. A fundamental. A universal principle. The scary part of this equation, is that it goes both directions. Progress can be forward or backward.
If the small steps that are repeated, are errors and bad habits, then you will have a continuous deterioration. Think of it likes this…a small step repeated daily could be eating a few doughnuts or it could be eating an apple. Granted, taken in isolation, this example might mean little, but things of this nature aren’t usually in isolation, are they? The consistent actions in each area of life tend to be in line with other actions in that same area, and an indicator of how other areas will be handled.
The Small Steps of Positive Progress are Really More Than Small Steps.
The small steps that lead to positive desirable outcomes, are more of an issue, than just the steps themselves. If it was just about the steps, then it would be fairly easy to accomplish something. Just do the steps. Everything that matters has a simple process to it. Everything. Self-care, strong connections with people, building a career or business, accomplishing a pursuit, etc. Whatever it is you would like to improve or accomplish can be boiled down to a process. A process is simply WHAT to do.
The challenge is when the mind comes into play. When the emotional fabric of the person comes into play. Everyone knows what it’s like to want to do something, know that it’s the right thing to do, even know how to do it….and not seem to be able to make themselves do it (this is why I believe mindset is ALWAYS more important than skill set).
Or worse, start to take a step or two and then deal with our lack of patience coming into play. Eating the doughnut right now sure does feel good in the moment if you love doughnuts. Choosing the apple? Well, if you really want the doughnut, the apple won’t seem as tasty, so it’s less gratifying in the moment, and if you are dodging the doughnut for the apple because of a bigger picture thing like health and fitness, you certainly aren’t going to see some quick change just because you picked the apple!
This is Where Self-Discipline Comes into the Picture.
I believe the biggest challenge with self-discipline, is the misunderstanding that it will ALWAYS be necessary in each thing you are disciplining. This is not the truth. You actually get to the point where you will no longer need the discipline to do the thing. You’ll just do it. Do this across all the things that matter in life like health, relationships, career and pursuits of the heart, and you eventually have an awesome life.
Self-discipline is the thing we need to use to take the steps whether we want to or not, and whether we feel like it or not. Right? If we feel like it and we want to, there is no need for self-discipline.
So, at the beginning of any effort to change, improve, or accomplish we begin to see measurable progress in whatever it is that we are pursuing if we consistently take the steps that are the result of self-discipline. When we exercise discipline, over time, we eventually remove the option in our mind, of choosing to do it or not.
This is When We Start to Cross into the Land of Habit.
And when it comes to making consistent positive movement in life, our habits will lead the way. Right now, every corner of your life is revealing the outcome of your habits. You might as well maximize them for the better.
What I discovered years ago, is that fundamental disciplines were where it all needed to start. The very first discipline I worked on was exercise. This was at first to control my weight. That was a relatively easy discipline to implement, because I wanted to stay lean more than I wanted to not exercise. Since this was the first discipline I ever really worked on for my own life purposes, it was easy to fit in since I had no other disciplines/structure to get in the way.
This single discipline, which soon became a habit that has never left my lifestyle, did many positive things for me, in addition to the fitness part (later I learned that you cannot outrun your fork and disciplined the food part). Most important, is that it showed me that I could commit to something, and then do it. Maybe for you that doesn’t seem like a big deal, but for me that was a massive discovery.
This helped me to feel a little better about myself as a human being. Which in turn, started to impact everything I did, including my work. Not long after, I discovered the importance of balance (3 Circles) and in this quest to live in the most important priorities, I learned I needed to do a better job of using my time well.
This introduced the ultimate self-discipline fundamental: Planning. This was, and still is, the ultimate game changer. Becoming a disciplined planner (which of course, became a habit), engendered discipline in everything that mattered. And this is the secret to how to “stack” disciplines, and subsequently, positive habits.
By planning all the important things inside all priorities, you are effectively disciplining all the things that matter. Then it’s simply a matter of executing on the fundamentals in all the areas. Health, relationships, career, cause, and whatever else it is.
And eventually, you have positive habits that lead the way in everything you care about. And the things you can control/impact in life get better and better.
This “secret” certainly isn’t as sexy as the “fix your life overnight” stuff that is promised to you by the advertisers, marketers, and social media voices that flood your life 24/7, but unlike those, this actually works.
Pick what you know is important to do, get clear on why it’s not optional to NOT do it, clarify the steps to do it, schedule the steps daily, self-discipline for the window of time necessary to build the habit, and voila, you will have a lasting long -erm result that will you bolster you in life.
I hope this was helpful.
Many Blessings, Todd
P.S. If you are in need of coaching or training for your organization, reach out to me.
P.S.S. Want to detox, rid yourself of extra body fat, and rachet up your health in a 21-day window? If that sounds at all appealing, shoot me an email and I’ll share a very unique and effective program that has been massively successful in Europe over the past seven years. I’ll send you a program guide that will allow you to learn the details, and a link where you can move forward if you choose to. As an aside, this program will require some discipline:-) but it’s a lot easier than what I do every day of my life!