The word "discipline" can feel intimidating. The process of getting more disciplined can feel overwhelming. Intimidating + Overwhelming = I Quit. Discipline is too important to ignore and too misunderstood by too many people.
The first step towards improving your own personal discipline is to understand what gets in your way. The second step is to understand discipline itself: what it is, what it's not, and how it works. We'll focus on the first step in this post, the second step in the next post.
First step: What gets in your way of being disciplined?
Discipline is not intimidating or overwhelming, it just feels that way. And when it feels that way, it feels true. You know you need discipline, but you start buying into the intimidating story you tell yourself about it. You genuinely believe the amount of discipline you need is overwhelming, it's too much to handle, so you don't even start.
This false story you tell yourself sounds like, "I can't . . . I'll never . . . I don't have time . . . It's too hard . . . I always . . . I'm just . . . I'm tired (exhausted) . . . It's too much . . .What if I . . . What if I don't . . . I can get away with . . . I'll be fine . . ."
It's not true. Whatever version(s) of this you tell yourself, and however you fill in the blanks, it's not true.
With discipline, like most things, what gets in your way is the story you tell yourself about the past, the present, and the future. Let me show you how it works.
Think of something specific and meaningful you'd like to be more disciplined about. It can be an activity, practice, mindset, habit, etc.
Once you have it in your mind, consider this...
Are you capable of doing it once?
Could you do it right now?
Definitely for most of you. Probably for a few of you.
So you're already aware you can do it and you can most likely do it in a moment's notice. Once. But what happens when your mind drifts into the story you tell about doing it again and again, for weeks or months or years, with discipline?
"Can I really do this every single day for six months straight?"
"I've never stuck with this habit. Ever. I probably won't this time either."
"This is going to be so hard to keep up."
Do you see what gets in the way? Do you feel how disruptive that is to your effort?
It's not your ability to act with discipline in any given moment. That's simple, like you just demonstrated. You can confidently do it once.
What gets in the way of discipline is the story you tell yourself about your willingness and ability to keep doing it over time.
You think about the past. All the bad habits, lazy moments, and avoidance behaviors. You know all your dirty secrets and sneaky tricks.
You think about the future. All the mornings and nights and long days in-between. All the decisions to be made, impulses to overcome, and dedication required.
The fatigue sets in before you're even doing the discipline. The doubt creeps in before you even start. You literally get overwhelmed sitting still just thinking about all the future decisions you'll have to make and sacrifices you'll have to take.
But if you slow down, like you're doing right now, and ask yourself, "Am I capable of doing it once? Can I do it right now? Can I be discipline-driven for the next five minutes?" the answer will always be . . . YES!
You can't be disciplined in the past. It's over.
You can't be disciplined in the future. It's not here yet and you're not there yet.
You can always be discipline-driven right now, five minutes at a time.
No one has ever been undisciplined for an entire year in a single moment. Millions of people string together an entire year of undisciplined moments.
So WIN THE MOMENT.
That's how you get beyond the main thing that gets in your way of being disciplined. Win THIS moment.
And when you lose a moment, because you will, win the next moment. Don't lose two in a row. But when you do lose two in a row, because you will, win the next moment. Don't lose three in a row. But when you do lose three in a row . . . you know the answer.
And remember, you can't win or lose a moment that isn't here yet. There is only this one, right here, right now.
Do the work.