What Does it Take to be Disciplined?

Going through the holidays I find myself wondering about self-discipline. How do people who are extremely disciplined do it? How do they manage to walk past all of those holiday goodies and not simply eat, eat, eat? I for one throw discipline out the window at this time of year, as it relates to nutrition that is.

All of this sugar induced (glucose induced coma to be precise) pondering led me to a simple conclusion. I think we need to be selectively disciplined. Giving ourselves the freedom to choose where and when we want to exert our disciplined selves. Now, you could argue that this could lead down the slippery slope of not being disciplined at anything (after all we can, and often do, select to not be disciplined about anything) and that is the crux of the situation. The ultimate discipline is being able to choose when to "let loose" and then "getting back on track." Knowing yourself and and your boundaries are critical pieces in maintaining the discipline you need to be successful.

It's an amazing situation, really. I've found myself there on many occasions. I'll go for several months of being disciplined working out at the gym. I'll make it there 3,4 or even 5 times a week. Even if it means I have to be there at 4:45 am. Then, I'll miss a day due to work, or injury. I'll rationalize (which, at the time makes pretty good sense) why I can't go. Then I start to think: "sleeping in past 4:45 am feels pretty nice." So I'll miss a few more days. For me, after 3-4 days have gone by I start to feel really crummy. That's when I know I let things get out of hand and I need to get back to the gym.

This same situation holds true professionally. I'll be very disciplined with some project, keeping track of and nailing down every last detail to make sure things run extremely smoothly. I'll  be disciplined about my workdays. Only taking specific breaks that I've set for myself, not wondering off onto the internet or wasting time doing something that really isn't helping me get things done. Then it will happen, I'll hit a rut, get into a funk and I'll start to lose that discipline. I'll find myself tweaking the fringes of my personal organization system (yeah, that's a problem for me, I have issues). Or I'll choose to randomly wander the internet much longer than I should be based on the work I have to do. It's amazing the random things that can suck time away when you're not being disciplined about what it is you're doing.

All of this rambling brings me to one conclusion. You have to be disciplined about one thing to be successful in whatever your endeavors are. That one thing is knowing yourself and how how to intervene as needed. As an example, I simply ask myself one question: how am I going to feel if I make (fill in the blank) this choice. This question is my crutch, my wakeup question that can make or break my disciplinary habits. 

If I ask this question relative to working out, I generally answer the question by thinking "well, I've eaten nothing but garbage for the last several days, If I don't work out I'm going to feel like crap" so I roll out of bed and go to work out. 

If I ask this question in relation to work: "if I waste 30 minutes reading my favorite blogs I'm going to be behind on my (insert project name) and that will force me to do additional work at night or no the weekend which will take away from my family." So, I walk away from my computer, get a glass of water (to refocus) and get back to work.

Answering your one simple question, and really knowing and staying true to "discipline boundaries" can make all the difference when you're trying to lose that extra weight, get that promotion, learn a new skill, be a better parent or friend or sibling or whatever. 

All of this said, I'm going to step away from my computer, take my dog for a walk and get myself ready for the next round of Holiday gluttony (thank goodness the YMCA is open all day today). 

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