I’ve always thought of discipline with somewhat of a negative connotation. I like living in a state of flow, feeling “aligned” and doing what feels right. Most of the time, I think my instincts are pretty good. I’ve built a successful design business, finished coaching training and have several clients, all while doing the family thing and feeling pretty good about being a good momma. When I commit to something for my clients, I follow through. When I promise something to my children or my family, I do it.
But I’ve come to realize that my instincts can be short sighted. Recently, my coach asked me “What would make me happy in two years?” Not two minutes, not even two days…
Whoa! That changes things, right? What about for you…
This requires figuring out what makes you happy. Shit.
What do you call a win???
This requires looking inward. Dammit – it’s so hard!!
Where can you go beyond the traditional measures of success of more money and a bigger [insert visible object like house or car]? Not to diminish those at all, but what is meaningful to your whole sense of wellbeing???
For me that is:
Writing, coaching, creating, breathing, playing
It took me two years to develop a habit of writing every day. TWO YEARS!!! I’ve known how much I need it for a long time, but I’ve resisted it for so. many. dumb. reasons – until I built some new habits.
Now, I write every day. It takes discipline. There are days I don’t want to, but I do it anyway, even if it’s just for a little bit. I always am happier afterward.
Why is it hard to have discipline?
- We don’t have something we TRULY want
- We don’t feel worthy
We live in a society of instant gratification. Everything we want to consume can literally be at our doorstop or on our phones instantaneously. I think this messes with our sense of reward and accomplishment. We get addicted to the rush of the what’s going on in the present moment. Everything is now.
We’ve lost the art of waiting. Just the word “waiting” sounds a bit tortuous. It’s way more fun to have “it” now!!!
But that’s not how life is. The power is always in the INCREMENTAL. We humans haven’t evolved ways to process all this instant gratification. I think that’s why our brains and society are always saying “more” and that what we have or are doing isn’t enough.
It takes so much discipline to go beyond traditional metrics and define success based on what is personally fulfilling. Sometimes we won’t have proof that the actions we’re taking are having an impact because usually that proof means more or less of something – more money, less weight, for example.
I don’t have a metric for how good writing makes me feel. It’s immeasurable, which makes it less valuable according to society. But I know that it is something I truly WANT (need!).
It takes a lot of discipline to build habits that support our sense of self and our wellbeing. It takes discipline to drink water, to get enough sleep, and to face emotional stuff head on. We have to turn the idea of discipline as pushing through hard, physical things on its head. In our society, I think it actually takes more discipline to slow down, to be real, to share from the heart, to say no and to take care of ourselves.
Do it anyway. Even when you don’t feel like it, it’s inconvenient, and especially if you don’t feel like you deserve it or are worthy of the benefits of it.
Use an App to Help
I highly recommend using this app for building new habits. I know there’s a lot of options out there, but this one is working really well for me https://thefabulous.co
Fabulous is a “science-based app, incubated in Duke’s Behavioral Economics Lab, that will help you build healthy rituals into your life.” You can do the free one and add in new routines and habits with alarms.
My personal daily habits are:
- Drink water – I keep a glass of water on my bedstand and drink it first thing
- Write in my journal – Also called morning pages, if you’re familiar with Julia Cameron of the Artists Way
- Adjust and Commit to my Plans – I do this early afternoon so I can make sure I don’t end the day feeling defeated that I didn’t finish things and adjust my schedule accordingly
- Be Laura – Read morning pages… this reminds me of my intentions for the day because it’s amazing to me how things can shift from 8am by 3pm
- Evening Routine – a few sentences of gratification
These daily habits help support the answer to that big question of…
What would make you happy in two years?
- Where are you being impatient in your life?
- Giving up something you want long-term for instant gratification?
- Where are you NOT implementing the power of incremental efforts?
- Where can you build new habits?
- Where are you not being honest with yourself?
It does help to write it down. Feel free to reply to me with your thoughts. <<First Name>>, I would love to hear what it is you want… what would make you happy? What can you do every day that will help you get there?
What would make you happy in two years? First we have to go inward to figure this out. Then we need to be disciplined, but it’s hard b/c we’re impatient, we don’t know what we really want, and we probably have to change our habits. It takes way more effort to have discipline with things that don’t have an obvious metric, like losing weight or making more money do; especially when there’s no measurement for feeling better. Do it anyway. You are worthy.