Here is the greatest value of discipline: self-worth. Many people who are teaching self-esteem these days don’t connect it to discipline. But once we sense the least lack of discipline within ourselves, it starts to erode our psyche. One of the greatest temptations is to ease up a little bit. Instead of doing your best, you allow yourself to do just a little less than your best. Sure enough, you’ve started in the slightest way to decrease your sense of self-worth. Respect must be earned, especially self-respect.
Growing up as an overweight kid, I lacked self-confidence. Obesity runs in my family. My father was always trying to lose weight. He struggled to change like we all do until we experience a seminal moment of inspiration or desperation. My commitment to change was born out of the latter. I remember being sent to the nurse’s office at school for a sprained ankle and overhearing her describing me as a fat boy. Her words struck me. I don’t know why they hit me as hard as they did, but I am glad they cause me enough pain to take action. I resolved to lose the weight. My plan consisted of just two things, daily exercise, and NO MORE DESSERTS. I decided that I would not eat another dessert until I lost all the weight.
It wasn’t easy, but I went over a year without eating a single dessert. I didn’t know much about diet and exercise; I was only ten years old, after all. My father read countless books on diet and exercise, but knowledge doesn’t change your life. Sometimes too much information and analysis can be a detriment to doing. It is our daily rituals that shape our lives. I committed to doing a little bit of exercise each morning and when I got home from school, inspired by my comic book heroes. My transforming body was a constant reminder of the value of taking consistent action. Exercise lifted me out of depression and improved my mental focus. I started doing better in school and became more confident. Eventually, I would become a National Honor Society member in high school and graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Installing NEW routines and behaviors requires a herculean disciplined effort. Do not squander your desire. Put it to good use. Take immediate action. Hesitation allows your desire to install good habits that will improve your life to pass without being employed. Don’t allow the emotion to diminish through indecision. Indecision is mental paralysis. Indecision means what could be is postponed or may never be. Indecision means putting off what we could do, what we should do. Indecision means the opportunity waits. Indecision means the door remains closed. The longer we delay, the less likely we are to act. Our desire quickly erodes and fades from existence. The wisdom is wasted, and the idea is soon forgotten. “Indecision is the greatest thief of opportunity.” Jim Rohn
Deciding, finally replacing your “I SHOULD-s” with “I WILL-s” can be an excellent source of motivation, but once you decide, you must discipline yourself to act. Never leave the site of a decision without taking immediate action. It can be the smallest of actions. It isn’t the size of the action that matters most. Baby steps count too. You want to generate momentum, and that is done through movement. A decision not married to action is merely a wish. A real decision forces an action. Start small and begin building momentum. Start becoming a person that gets out of their head and into action. Real decisions change our behavior. True decisions are the only things that improve our lives.
Continue reading THE LAW OF DIMINISHING INTENT
Behaviors that are incongruent with our identity don’t last. I would argue that if they persist, they will change our identity. At that point, the two will realign themselves. A simple litmus test for determining if a habit is good or bad is the resulting identity it produces. If the habit is a vote for the type of person you want to become, it is a good habit. If it doesn’t, it isn’t.
Identity and habits work in a push-pull manner. We can harness the power of identity to adopt a more disciplined lifestyle. Continue reading The Relationship between Habits & Identity
Motivation isn’t the solution; motivation is the problem. Please, let me explain. The belief that you need motivation to take action is going to prevent you from forming any habits. Motivation isn’t an effective strategy for long-term behavior change for two reasons. Motivation fluctuates from day to day and tends to decrease over time. Habits not only fly under the radar of our conscious brain, but they also fly under the radar of our emotions. Just like we savor the first bite of our meal more than the last, we tend to be less motivated the more times we repeat a routine. Boredom is the biggest obstacle to excellence. A lot of people hit the gym for two or three weeks, then lose their motivation to go and quit. They blame their lack of motivation, but it is their belief that they need to be motivated to go that is the problem. So, if motivation isn’t the solution, what is? Continue reading THE MOTIVATION FALLACY