I can’t get no…
Remember that hit song back in the 80’s? You know, that one that everybody was singing and it was about discipline? Or how about that episode of Cheers where Norm learns the valuable lesson of being disciplined and he quit coming to the bar? Ohhh wait, no…no, neither one ever happened. Hmm, why is that? We have songs about respect, movies about motivation and TV shows about sacrifice, but when it comes to discipline there’s not much out there. Any ideas?
I think it’s because discipline isn’t sexy. Moreover, I think having discipline is almost looked down upon. When most people hear the word discipline, images are conjured up revolving around self-sacrifice, abstaining from fun, and general ho-hum boredom. I’m not sure when and why this developed. Maybe it was before my time during the counter-culture revolution. Maybe people got tired of being told what to do and they wanted to “stick it to the man.” All I know is the bastardization of discipline needs to stop.
All too often we seem to rely on motivation to be the driving force for any hope of salvaging a lifestyle change. We think an over-abundance of happy thoughts, positivity, and “Doggone it, I’m good enough” will be all we need to eventually topple the tides in our favor. I’m here to tell you from personal experience and from working with hundreds of clients in the weight loss industry, motivation ain’t cutting it.
The benefits of discipline
The reason motivation doesn’t work is the very reason that discipline does. Motivation, with all its initial firepower and overwhelming ability to get us on our feet, will always eventually die. Read that sentence again. And again. This does not mean that you need to give up hope. This does not mean that you need to stop looking for motivation. Quite the contrary. I think we should all constantly seek out sources of motivation. Zig Ziglar knew what was going on.
While motivation should, and must, be constantly refreshed, developing discipline will provide long-lasting benefits. Those benefits need not be refreshed. They need not be recharged. Discipline is developed as a habit, therefore it becomes a part of your routine. It becomes a part of you. When we learn to develop discipline, we can carry it over to all we do.
I believe in constantly growing, and constantly improving ourselves. And for good reason. I used to be horrible about punctuality. I used to not care about my appearance. I used to not care how I did my job, as long as I got it done as fast and efficiently as possible. This led to a lot of upset bosses, unimpressed customers and frustrated coworkers. Along the way I’ve learned how to be disciplined. I’ve learned to show up early. I’ve learned to take pride in my appearance. I’ve learned how to do my job, not only as efficient and effective as possible, but as impressive as well.
All of those changes stemmed from finally developing discipline in my actions. They weren’t separate things I had to improve. I developed discipline and began to realize that I could really stand to do things in a much better way. What’s more, is that I consider myself on a constant mission to find more aspects that I can improve upon. Not only that, but I actually look forward to doing exactly that. When I realize I can improve upon something, I get excited, my eyes light up and I go about devising how to do it better.
So, how did I do it? How have I, an eternal slacker who always did just enough to get by, turned the corner and learned to take pride in all I do? How have I finally developed discipline? I’m not going to lie and say it was an overnight realization. It’s taken time. I was able to stay disciplined enough to workout every day even in my darkest days. I was able to focus on eating healthy 90% of my day. But there was still something lacking.
It wasn’t until I started practicing awareness that everything started to change. Once I began to cultivate a sense of what I was doing each moment, and more importantly WHY I was doing it, I then began to see a much larger picture. My daily workouts grew from a stand-alone sweat session to part of a bigger program designed to get me the exact results I had always wanted. My healthy eating habits grew accordingly. I still eat healthy, but I eat differently on a Monday after a hard workout and busy workday than I will on a laid back Sunday afternoon.
The process of understanding my identity, values and priorities has lent a tremendous amount of detail to my discipline as well. When somebody asks you “Who are you?” most people define themselves with their occupation or relationship role. But you are not your job. You are not your role in your household. You are much more than that. You don’t just value being on time or doing a good job. But you may value being honest, or being reliable. You might prioritize getting your work finished before you relax for the day. Or you may not. Guess which scenario would benefit from some discipline?
Ok great, now what?
To develop a sense of awareness, you simply must practice being aware. That can be through simply taking 5 minutes a day to sit alone in solitude while you focus on your breath. If you’re too energetic or busy to sit still for 5 minutes, you can try an awareness sheet like those I give my clients. I offer both an Eating awareness sheet and a Behavioral awareness one. If the need arises for something different, the possibilities are limitless, much like the benefits of developing your ability to become aware of your actions, thoughts and feelings.
If you can’t answer the question “Who are you?” without using your career, income, or daily rituals then maybe filling out the Identity, Values and Goals worksheet will give you some direction. It certainly helped me do a complete turnaround and define my purpose in life.
I should note that the above forms come directly from Precision Nutrition and the Level 2 coaching course that I’ve been involved in. Maybe the simple act of being involved in a certification that is 52 weeks long (yes, it’s an entire year of learning!) has also assisted in my development. Which is why I’m also excited to mention that in June I’ll begin offering the ProCoach program to my clients as well. Think of it as a constant companion in developing better nutrition, fitness and lifestyle habits that are sure to lead you to becoming your healthiest, happiest version. Needless to say, I’m super excited about all the possibilities it presents!
Going forward, stay tuned to Fresh Evolution Fitness, as the site is growing. I’ll be including more resources and providing more tools to help anyone on the interwebs who wants to grow. Now go forth, seeking out discipline and opportunities for awesomeness! We all only have one life, so why not make the most of it?!