1. How discipline can change your life

    April 1, 2013

    marathon runners

    Image Credit: Marcos Vasconcelos

    by Lima Curtis

    Runners have a saying: “No one ever says, ‘Wow, I regret that run,’” but the same sentiment can be applied to every action in your life.

    It’s human nature that we are always trying to better ourselves, whether it is reading more, going to bed earlier, or simply drinking less coffee.  However, each of these decisions requires a certain amount of discipline, which if we lack, means we don’t do what we set out to do, and end up feeling guilty.

    But how can we introduce more discipline in our lives?

    Join forces. If you want to improve your mind or body, chances are there is someone you know who has the same goals as you. So if you want to be better read, create a book club, invite your friends and colleagues and have fun. It’s a great way to socialise and to discipline yourself to read more.

    It could be you want to improve your yoga technique, if you promise a friend you will practise with them, you will learn to discipline yourself to keep going. As well as looking forward to seeing your friend, with their encouragement you will see yourself getting better before you know it.

    But not with the wrong people! If, for example,  you are trying to give up smoking, this requires a huge amount of will power, so don’t hang around people who smoke! As your self-discipline improves you will be able to put yourself back into situations you previously felt you had no control in, but whilst you are starting out it’s easiest to cut all ties with situations or triggers that weaken your resolve.

    Write your targets down. It may remind you of being back in the classroom, but a tick chart can really help. Write down your goals across the top of your paper, eg drink three cups of green tea and the days of the week down the side. Then tick the days if you achieve your goal. Seeing your actions on paper can give you the discipline you need to achieve your goal/s.

    Self actualise. Of course it is easier to sit on the sofa eating cereal than trying to gather the motivation to run around the park, but if you take five minutes to close your eyes and visualise your goal, you will find yourself lacing your trainers before you know it.

    Sometimes taking time out to think about what you want to gain, rather than what you have to do to gain it, can encourage you to discipline yourself to do it.

    Go public. Like the tick chart, telling people what you are doing, or what you are trying to achieve is a great way of making your goal more tangible. If you are aiming to run a 10k for charity, then no doubt you will have told lots of people what you are doing and why.

    If you feel like you might be letting someone else down, rather than just yourself, you will be more encouraged to work at your goal and discipline yourself to complete the task in hand.

    Small steps. It would be absolutely incredible if you were to give up smoking, learn a new language and complete a half marathon overnight. But these are all things that can be achieved in a year.

    One of the best ways to develop and implement your self-discipline is to take small achievable steps. For example, for the first week swap one coffee for green tea, the second week continue, but do 20 sit ups every morning.

    The euphoria you get from feeling healthier, but also knowing you are achieving your goals should be more than enough to encourage you to continue on your new disciplined self.