Wow, what an intense seven months it has been. Firstly, give yourself a huge pat on the back for being so strong during these difficult times. It’s not easy to keep going, to keep fighting the good fight but it needs to be done and you should be extremely proud of yourself for hanging in there.
With COVID, racial inequality, domestic abuse, oil spills in our beautiful waters and so much more, seeing the worlds issues brought to the forefront of our minds, really makes you take a step back and reflect on what’s truly important to you and what you’re aiming to achieve in life – and more importantly, how you’re going to get there. Which brings me to todays topic. Self discipline!
Do you ever have those days where you know you should be doing something productive but you can’t seem to get out of bed and stop scrolling through instagram? Or you can’t seem to stop binge watching re runs of your favourite TV series? Because that has most definitely been me on more than one occasion (especially during lockdown) and I can literally feel my motivation transitioning from badass boss babe to couch potato.
We’ve all been there before (lockdown or not) where we can’t be bothered exercising, or cooking or finishing that assignment. But what most people fail to realise is that being motivated isn’t the the real key to getting things done. Self discipline is.
So what is self discipline?
Self-discipline involves doing something repeatedly until it becomes part of your routine and lifestyle that you almost don’t even have to think twice about doing it. It also means avoiding things that you know you shouldn’t do, say, eat or even drink.
Now you might not think you have self-discipline, but the reality is, we all do. It’s just that some of us don’t yet realise it. And if you’re always telling yourself that you have no self-discipline, well, it’s time to let that mindset go – because you do!
If you think of professional dancers, natural born talent obviously contributes to their success, but it’s those who are the most disciplined who book the jobs. And I say this because it wasn’t until I surrounded myself with some of these amazing beauties that I truly learnt what it meant to be self disciplined.
So why is self discipline often difficult to achieve?
The answer – because nine times out of ten we view it as a negative thing. Self-discipline is often associated with deprivation and I mean, who willingly wants to deprive themselves of anything? “Not me,” immediately comes to mind.
But if you stick with the mindset that self-discipline equals deprivation, you’re going to hold yourself back. Instead, think of it in terms of consistently doing things because they’re important and beneficial to you. When you do things because you enjoy them and see the benefits of doing them, you’re more likely to be consistent with them.
So how can I improve my self discipline?
Recognise the areas of your life where you’re already disciplined. For me, I’m really good at putting my head down and writing. Yes it needs to be done, but I also enjoy it and I know the end result will benefit me immensely. However on the flip side, what I’m not so good at, is daily exercise (or weekly… or monthly… you get the picture).
But knowing that I have self-discipline in certain areas of my life to begin with (eg. writing), reminds me that I do have it within me, I just need to apply it to everything else.
Make it enjoyable. This applies to both your ritual and your environment. Let’s look at me for a moment. To get me started on my fitness journey, every morning I’ve been doing a beginners yoga session. I roll out my mat, put on my oil diffuser, chose my fabulously fierce card for the day, then place it on the edge of my mat as I begin my lesson.
By doing this little ritual, not only am I signalling to my brain that it’s time to get active, but it makes the entire routine a lot more inviting and I’m a lot less likely to bail out.
Commit. Deciding how often you want to do something prior to doing it, can make the world of difference. I like to commit to a daily schedule (yoga, writing, meditation etc.) this way I don’t have to think too much about it and my brain just knows I need to get whatever it is done each day.
Remove temptations. This is really important for me and what most people tend to struggle with. When I’m writing, if it’s a sunny day outside all I want to be doing is laying on a beach somewhere or having a picnic in the park. Now this may seem a little extreme but when I know it’s going to be a nice day outside, I will purposely keep the drapes in my room closed until I’ve finished my writing. not only does this help keep me in the zone, but it keeps me laser focused on my task at hand. In the past I’ve also removed junk food from my cupboards when I’ve wanted to keep my health on track.
When you find those temptations around you are becoming too strong, ask yourself this. “Is this going to help or hurt my future self?” Even when it comes to hanging out with friends. It’s okay to miss a brunch here and there if the end result is a better you.
Keep Track. When you physically see how far you’ve come, it will help inspire you to keep going. Are you focused on your fitness goals? Take before, in between and after photos. Are you committed to journal writing? Date each entry and flip back through the pages to see just how consistent you’ve been. Whatever it may be, keep a progress report and remember to look back on it regularly.
Start small. One reason we often put things off or give up early on, is because the task at hand seems to momentous. So rather than thinking of the end gaol, although that’s something to always keep in the back your mind, focus on the smaller steps required to get you there.
For the longest time I wanted to increase my water intake. But going from one glass a day (I know, super bad) to eight was too much to handle. So I focused on increasing to two glasses for a week, then I moved onto three, and so fourth until I reached my goal.
Find balance. Every minute of everyday doesn’t have to be filled with productive tasks. Remember to give yourself time to unwind and recharge because if you don’t, your discipline won’t give you much time for a life and you’ll quickly come to resent it. Find the balance that’s right for you without compromising your goals and dreams.
At the end of the day, you are the author of your story. You can either make it an incredible one, or you can sit back and later live in regrets filled with “I should have done this,” or “I wish I did that.” Unleash that self discipline you know you have inside you today and girl, get going!
Love and kindness, Nerissa x