Breaking any cycle that’s damaging to your health requires one key element that every human must have to in order to be successful and overcome any obstacle they face. This key element is discipline. What exactly does discipline mean, and what does having discipline do our lives?
The definition of discipline is this:
1. The practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behaviour, using punishment to correct disobedience.
2. A branch of knowledge, typically one studied in higher education.
1. train (someone) to obey rules or a code of behaviour, using punishment to correct disobedience.
While discipline may sound nasty by using punishment to correct disobedience, without discipline we would truly live in a world full of chaos. Many people today struggle with self-discipline. We want to do whatever we want, whenever we want and however we want, without any consequences for our actions because we don’t want to humble ourselves to discipline. We want instant gratification and we don’t care to put in effort anymore to achieve goals. If somethings hard, we might as well give up and try something else.
The more we live an undisciplined life, the more we will invariably suffer, because discipline doesn’t create the chains of bondage we assume it does, it actually instigates freedom. We can experience freedom from many diseases when we discipline ourselves to eat right and exercise, we can experience financial freedom when we discipline ourselves to diligently work, get educated or apply for jobs instead of sitting back and waiting for something to fall into our laps. We can also experience a successful marriage when we discipline ourselves to be completely committed to one person and put their needs before our own. Discipline is not a rod to beat someone with, it’s actually the hand they need to help them up when they’re down.
Why is discipline so important and why do I bring it up?
Without intentional discipline, you will never overcome the eating challenges you may have. Being disciplined takes effort. It’s easy to come home and sit in front of the television after work, order in a pizza for dinner so you don’t have to cook, and stay up all night zoned out in front of the TV. It takes discipline to go to the gym before or after you’ve finished work instead of collapsing in front of a screen when you get home. It takes discipline to go to the grocery store, choose healthy fresh ingredients and make your own dinner instead of ordering in. It takes discipline to turn off the TV, read a book and go to bed at a decent time so you can get a full 8 hours of sleep to make sure you wake up feeling rested and remain healthy. Exercise, eating healthy and sleeping are all basic human requirements for a healthy body, and no one would look at those things as harmful or activities that would keep you in bondage, would they? Being disciplined doesn't hold you back, it propels you forward.
When we discipline ourselves in small areas of life that don’t seem significant, it leaks into other areas of our lives that hold more weight. Discipline isn’t necessarily doing something because it’s the right thing to do, discipline is doing something (that’s beneficial) when you don’t feel like it doing it. We can start to train our self-discipline right now by taking part in small tasks that will help us set the principal for bigger tasks.
For example, recognizing you like sugar in your coffee and making a decision not to have it in your coffee for one whole week is something small you can do. It’s something you like and may not want to stop doing, but by doing it anyway, you start to create an environment of self-discipline.
When it comes to changing the way you eat, discipline is the foundation for your success. As I talked about in a previous post about forming habits, we know that it takes at least 63 days to form new long term memories, or build new habits into our lives. If something takes you 63 days (over two months) to form a habit, don’t you think that it will require some self-discipline in order for you to achieve that goal?
Exercise is another perfect example of an activity that requires discipline. It’s easy to skip the gym and find something “better” to do. Life gets busy, things always come up and you will be able to find an excuse time and time again for not exercising. As a personal trainer, I've heard every excuse in the book. When someone disciplines their self in the area of exercise, they make going to the gym or moving their body a priority, and they do it even when something else vies for their attention or time. This doesn’t mean that exercise should become an obsession that rules over everything else, but it does mean intentionally setting aside time in your schedule to make sure you move enough.
Successful people are people that understand the benefits of exercise and eating healthy. Successful people realize that the healthier they are, the more productive they’ll be and virtually the more money they’ll be able to make. While money is only a small part of success, it can buy you freedom from a lot of stress that goes along with not having enough of it. I’ve lived pay cheque to pay cheque and I’ve lived with more than enough, and let me tell you, I have a lot less stress when I’m living in abundance than when I’m living in lack. If eating healthy and exercising are going to make me a more productive individual, not only in my health, but in my finances, I’m going to make sure that those two factors are at the top my priority list.
What are the areas of your life where you feel you need more discipline in order to overcome unwanted challenges you may be experiencing?
Is it unwanted health challenges that could be corrected with diet and exercise? Is it financial stress that requires you to start budgeting and spending your money more wisely? Is it emotional, spiritual disciplines you need to start implementing in order for you to be a better, more stable version of yourself?
Whatever disciplines you need to start incorporating in your life, I challenge you to start TODAY. You can make small changes that will translate into bigger, more life altering changes. One of my favourite quotes from Dr. Robert Lustig is this; “Exercise doesn’t have to be big, it just has to be consistent and continuous”.
You don’t have to be a super hero in the gym or push yourself to the max every day, you just have to develop some consistency in your life, and stick with something for long enough to see change happen, and long enough to turn it into a part of your lifestyle.
Here are a few sample exercises you can do (if you don’t do them already) that will help prepare your body and your mind to start disciplining yourself for success:
1. You wake up in the morning. Make your bed right away.
2. You normally turn on the TV when you wake up to listen to the news. Eat breakfast instead.
3. Drink water right when you wake up before drinking a cup of coffee.
4. Give your spot on the bus or train to the elderly or pregnant person that gets on.
5. During lunchtime, turn all your electronic devises off or away from you and focus on eating.
6. You feel like ordering in food one night, cook instead.
7. You have dirty dishes after you eat a meal. Instead of waiting for them to pile up, do the dishes as soon as you’re done eating.
8. You feel like zoning out in front of the TV. Read a book or call someone instead.
9. Your first instinct is to go home after work. Go to the gym instead.
10. You see a piece of dirt on the floor. Instead of walking by it, pick it up.
11. Your car is dirty. You don’t feel like cleaning it or washing it. Do it anyway.
You don’t have to do all these things every day, although some of them would be beneficial to do so, but it’s about recognizing when you don’t feel like doing something that’s beneficial but doing it anyway that will produce a disciplinary mind. The minute you take control of your emotions is the minute you’ll experience freedom and success. If we all lived by how we felt, nothing would get done. Pinpoint the areas of your life that need more self-discipline and slowly start incorporating them into your daily activities. Listen on the inside for little cues that are calling for your attention to be more committed and watch what happens!
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