One of the things I struggle with the most is doing the things that I know I have to do, yet I don't want to do....Just the word "Discipline" itself has negative connotations for me. It brings back memories of being told what to do, scolded, criticized, talked down to, punished.
When something is negative, or makes you feel badly; either about yourself or otherwise you tend to run away from it, not do it, not want to be around it. Plus, it's usually hard...Either physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually and getting ourselves to do what's "hard" is well....Hard.
So how do we learn to embrace the suck?
One thing that's worked for me is to replace the notion of being disciplined with the behavior of being consistent and having self control. It feels better. More positive. We are what we repeatedly do. If I'm consistent and practice self control with something, I usually end up being pretty good at it over time; whereas if I feel controlled or forced, I rebel or fight it.
Now if you like discipline and that's what you need; go for it. Whatever works for you. We're all motivated differently.
For some people rigid and scheduled works, for others it's crippling. Some can handle and thrive on the consistency of inconsistency. They move fluidly from one activity and obligation to another completing tasks when they feel motivated, not beholden to deadline.
Discipline is nothing more than the habit of consistency - finding the motivation to do something again and again, until you do it on autopilot and start seeing results.
To write this blog/newsletter - I enjoy doing it. I'm not obligated to do it, It provides not only a creative outlet and mental exercise but a consistent schedule. Meaning that if I have to put this out on Sunday morning then I really can’t be out late on Saturday...So there’s my excuse to leave the event, party or whatever early or not go out at all... I built a system that helps me and its become easier to adhere to over time . Is that a form of discipline? Yes, but more about consistency and self-control. However, if I send it out at 11a instead of 9a it doesn't really matter. I don't beat myself up over it or hold myself to that rigid standard.
Now, if you moved my workouts to 5a, then I’d need some real discipline... I wouldn’t like it. I'm not a super early riser, don't perform well at that hour and am not willing to change at this stage of my life. Sure, every once in a while I do it, but not consistently. I don't have that degree of self-control. My consistency is based around my being able to commit to certain times, not being forced to conform to one time.
With business I adhere to a much stricter schedule; renewal dates are firm. Marketing timeframes are firm. Response times critical. I work hard on having that self control. Other aspects such as meeting with clients, discussing their businesses, risks, designing and implementing their programs is exciting; the minutiae of policy forms, invoicing and logistics is challenging. So I've built a support system around those areas where I can delegate and still maintain the level of self control and consistency to stay on top of what is important.
The biggest challenge is to stay focused. To maintain self-control when there are so many things competing for your time.
Once I’m done with my "routine", working out, recovery, writing, meditating eating (all the things I like). Do I possess the self-control to sit down and answer every client email, read the policy forms I need to, dig in to that work comp audit, respond to the claim issue that I know is gonna suck, do taxes? We all have aspects to our jobs and lives that we enjoy and gravitate towards more than others. This is about how we manage the other side of the ledger.
In A Guide To Developing The Self-Discipline Habit Leo Babauta writes "One of the most important things you can do to get better at self-discipline is to take small actions. It can seem overwhelming to tackle huge, intimidating projects … so don’t. Instead, tackle easy actions, things so small you can’t say no."
Have some taxes to do? Just do 5 minutes.
Want to run? Just run for 10 minutes.
Have a report to work on? Just do the first few paragraphs.
Want to declutter? Just find 5 things to declutter.
People with a higher degree of self-control spend less time debating whether or not to indulge in behaviors that are detrimental to their health, and are able to make positive decisions more easily. They don’t let impulses or feelings dictate their choices. Instead, they make level-headed decisions. As a result, they tend to feel more satisfied with their lives. (Deep Patel)
So just try it...One small task at a time, push yourself into discomfort. See how it feels. Embrace the suck. See that it’s not the end of the world. See that you are awesome enough to handle discomfort, and that the results are well worth it.