Self-Discipline, as defined on collinsdictionary.com, is the ability to control yourself and to make yourself work hard or behave in a particular way without needing anyone else to tell you what to do. In other words it about mastering yourself to get desired results.
There are so many areas in my life that I would like to improve, as I believe many of us do. In order to do so I would need to put in place specific disciplines. These disciplines would help make me a better person overall. For me these include eating right, exercising regularly and learning another language. To me these are great ideas but when I think about developing disciplines I get mentally overwhelmed and my actions (if I act at all) fall short.
When I do decide to take certain actions, I often find myself giving in to my feelings and procrastinating tendencies. I was looking into some shortcuts and quick ways of maintaining motivation and develop effective habits and I came across a book by Jocko Willink called “Discipline Equals Freedom.” In the book he makes it clear that there are no quick fixes and no short cuts. He goes on to write that there is only choice to do what is desired no matter what and to take action.
For most of us, our mind has been trained to avoid pain and to welcome pleasure. It is often an uphill battle dealing with feeling tired, overwhelmed and stressed. For some it involves physical pain or psychological conditions or even addictions. We convince ourselves to put certain actions off until these emotions subside and most times they never do.
So how then do we take on disciplines when being confronted with these mental or physical obstacles? How do we make the tough decisions to act? The answer that I came up with is asking different questions, like why is it important and what are the consequences of not taking appropriate actions in creating disciplines? By having a clear purpose and direction we maintain a certain level of motivation, maybe not enough to maintain the discipline, but it is a good start. There still needs to be the decision to just do it and act.
I always thought that it took about 60 to 90 days of being disciplined to create a habit. According to Jocko Willink, a former Navy SEAL, this is not the case. He states that it is always going to be hard and the choice to act needs to continue. The brain will not just take over the body and say, “Okay, you don’t need to worry about this being hard anymore, I’ll take it from here.” No, the struggle continues.
There may be a point when we tell ourselves that we need a break, or deserve to cut it down just a bit, or that my defined disciplines were not realistic. We also may think that we need the right people, equipment, right time to start taking action. It takes a real warrior spirit to call “bullshit” on ourselves. But, we also must not beat ourselves up because that only contributes to decreased motivation, increased procrastination and ultimately self-pity.
There does come a point when the benefits and rewards of the disciplined actions begin to show up physically and mentally. This helps with the motivation to stay on track but the temptation to falter does not go away altogether. This is why each day is a decision to act towards our disciplines, knowing that it is for our higher good and overall purpose. Battle on to victory my friends!
Please contact me at Sheric73@yahoo.com or 516-849- 2152
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Ian Sherman, LCSW-R