What do you think of when you hear the word discipline?
Do you think of a child being disciplined? Maybe a puppy being disciplined after going in the house? What about the military? That’s what I have always thought of. A line up of soldiers with a perfectly pressed uniform, shiny black shoes, clean shaven. I’ve always admired members of the military for going through the rigorous training and discipline required to serve our country.
In this post I want to talk about discipline as it relates to training oneself to do something in a controlled and habitual way, as it’s defined.
Over the last year I’ve changed many things in my own life. I was only able to do that through installing different disciplines in my daily routine. When you think about it, we each already have discipline in life. You might be a student that is disciplined to go to class at a certain time. Maybe you have a job and you’ve disciplined yourself to get in the car and travel to work at a specific time to make sure you’re on time.
“Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day.” – Jim Rohn
What changed my life was figuring out my weaknesses or things I needed to change and deciding on small, daily disciplines I needed to implement.
I wanted to get healthier. I wanted to be more consistent about exercising. I wrote about how I installed a walking and eventual workout discipline in a previous article. Basically, I started small by deciding, no matter what, I would walk the dogs every single morning. It was tough at first and that’s where the discipline was huge. Eventually, it became second-nature once the habit was formed.
So, what does it take to install a discipline? I’ll list the routine I have come up with and include an actual example in my own life.
I decided I needed to eat healthier and watch my diet while at work.
Step 1: Identify the problem.
Let’s start with what wasn’t working:
- I went out to eat too much for lunch
- I would eat more than one portion
- Snacking on bad stuff was too easy
- I was eating unhealthy food
Step 2: Decide on a solution.
What needed to change:
- I needed to pack my lunch
- I needed to make smaller portions
- I needed to buy healthier snacks
- I needed to buy and prepare healthier food
Step 3: Implement a discipline.
Eating the food was the easy part. The discipline I needed to start eating healthier was involved in shopping for food, preparing it and packing it the night before I go to work.
I decided the food I would need for the week I would buy on the weekend. I would cook the bulk of the food on Sunday night. Any other food prep I would perform the night before I go to work. The night before I go to work I prepare two servings for that day. This works for me because I will eat one meal around 9:30 and the other sometime around noon. This keeps me satiated during the day and helps me to avoid snacking because I’m hungry too soon.
Step 3.5: Adjust as necessary.
Your plan may not be perfect right out of the gate. Don’t be afraid of making adjustments and fine-tune your discipline.
Step 4: Repeat until it becomes a habit.
Repetition is key. Whatever discipline you’re trying to install, it’s critical that you repeat it until it becomes automatic. Something that has helped me is setting reminders on my phone. In this particular example, I would set weekly reminders to buy and prepare the food. I would set evening reminders to make sure I get the food ready before the next day. Luckily I didn’t need to set a reminder to eat the food!
You can change your life by looking at where you need to improve and installing disciplines to make it happen.