Someone posed the question to me, “how do you do things you HATE doing.” Most self-development gurus tell you that you have to have a big enough WHY to accomplish things. I don’t agree. Self-discipline is my answer. I don’t particularly like going to the gym and I don’t really have that big of a WHY. I don’t particularly like meditating and again my WHY is hardly existent. I do them because of self-discipline. I’d rather be sleeping – trust me. It’s a choice. I can stay in bed or I can go to the gym or go and meditate. I just choose to go to the gym or meditate more than most people.
I’d like to say I exercise because of the enjoyment I have or the results I get. The fact is, I can’t see the results because the change is so slow. So even though my jeans fit better, that’s not what motivates me to go to the gym. And I don’t particularly enjoy sweating and working hard mostly because when you do, there’s no instant gratification. It’s just hard. Why would you choose to do something that is hard? For me I have to soothe myself by listening to podcasts or an audio book when I’m on a stationary bike or elliptical. This keeps my mind off the ever-increasing fatigue in my legs. UGH!
I’d like to say I’m motivated because of health reasons. That would be a lie too though. I know that I feel better when I’m exercising regularly but that doesn’t get me out of bed. Bed feels good too. I’d like to say I’m concerned about osteoporosis or cancer or heart disease but that doesn’t really motivate me either. I know exercise is good for me but so do other people and they aren’t in the gym at 5:30.
I exercise because of self-discipline. I exercise because without disciplining myself to be an adult and take care of myself, then I might end up with cancer or heart disease or osteoporosis. Without discipline, I’d be fat. I choose to take care of myself for the long run. I disciplined myself to create a habit. I did it until I couldn’t think of not doing it. It becomes part of who I am. I exercise because I can’t really think of going a week without exercising unless I was really sick and even then I’m tempted to just go sweat it all out.
It’s the same with meditation. I’m disciplining myself to create this habit so I can have the habit installed. I have other things to do than sit around thinking of nothing. I’d rather be doing than sitting. Without disciplining myself to take the time and be still, clear my mind and focus on nothing, I’ll never enjoy the benefits of this practice. I have noticed a lot of results from meditating consistently over 3 years. I feel calmer. I feel more relaxed. I feel focused. But it wasn’t instantaneous. The reason I keep going is that I know long-term meditators are healthier and often happier. The sacrifice I make in time now is worth the long term benefits later.
And I guess that’s really the point. The point is that self-discpline is about sacrificing what might be tempting NOW for benefits that will come later. Not so strangely, a high sense of self-discipline has been linked to a high degree of self-confidence. That makes sense right? People who are able to stick to their diets, stick to their exercise routine, stick to meditation, also stick to putting away money for investments, spend quality time on relationships and focus on developing their professional career. Their confidence builds with each success in their lives. Set backs are just challenges that can be overcome with persistence. Self-discipline helps in all areas of their lives.
So what do you need to get disciplined about?