Discipline is a Mindset Skill that comes up a lot in conversations with the teams and individuals I work with; the discipline to do what is necessary to achieve their larger goals, and not just easy/expedient/fun right now. The discipline to stick to an exercise regimen or healthy diet after the initial interest and motivation has burned out.
My idea is that to make sticking to something easier, it is better to control the input, rather than the response.
The story is always the same. We plan out the perfect and most consistent work schedule. We buy chicken breast and broccoli stems by the truckload. We set up the brand new guitar and buy a lifetime’s subscription to the latest guitar-learning app.
For the first week of the year, everything is great — we’re well on our way, taxying down the runway of achievement. By week 2, we are erratically multitasking at our desks with a phone in our ear and a pen in our hand, we’re in the nearest Five Guys with a burger and Fries, and the guitar is still very much brand new. We never quite seem to take off. Why?
This article is about why your New Year’s resolutions aren’t working now, and about how you can right the ship if you want to.
The first and most immediate benefit of a BJJ class is the chance to let go of a bad day at work. I think of sparring as a ‘mental palette cleanser’. But Brazilian Jiu Jitsu’s most valuable benefit is less obvious and more pervasive. It provides the opportunity and environment to practice key life skills in a tangible and practical way.
We all want more time, more money, more stuff. But how much more? When will we have enough to be content?
Motivation is like empty carbs. It gives us a quick hit of energy, but burns itself out very quickly. Discipline, on the other hand, is our protein — slower to break down, and so keeps us going longer. This is not an article about how motivation is meaningless, but rather about how motivation alone will not get us very far without a good portion of discipline on our plate alongside it.
We push ourselves to the maximum day in, day out, wasting energy and burning ourselves out. We pay lip service to planning out a more intelligent, sustainable approach but when our backs are agains the wall and deadlines loom, we lose our heads and just make a mad dash for it.
“There’s no time for planning,” we think, “let’s just get on with it”.
But what would happen if we took a more strategic, longer term approach, and applied our energy more efficiently?
Much is said and written about the virtues of ‘believing in yourself’, ‘backing yourself’ and ‘ignoring the nay-sayers’. This advice is applied to business situations, to personal relationships, and pursuing your dreams and goals. There is no denying the importance of self-belief. After all, if we don’t take ourselves seriously, we can’t expect anyone else to. But should we always listen to ourselves? Are the voices in our head always right? In my opinion, to make real change in our lives, we should sometimes ‘tactically ignore’ the things we tell ourselves to do; forgoing what seems like the best choice right now, for what we truly want long term.
Time management makes sure you show up to an event. Energy management makes sure you are engaged with that event. After all, what I and the people I coach really seek is not really more hours in a day. What we really want is a way to be more present and engaged with our work and with our friends and family, and to not be so tired all the time. A way to not drag ourselves through each of our many chosen responsibilities. A way to be productive, to achieve, and to be happy, all at once! Working smarter, not harder, as a way to achieve this.