Discipline is not just going to bed early, or getting up before 6 a.m. It’s about doing things you don’t want to do to improve yourself. It’s making the right decisions on eating and exercise to ensure you are your strongest, most capable self. It’s setting goals and putting in the effort to achieve them.
I have discipline cycles. Cycles where I am consumed by getting up early, exercising, eating healthy, taking on more projects at work, using my last bit of energy to read with my children at night and cycles where I don’t do any of that. Cycles where I am so unmotivated, all discipline disappears.
I have noticed that these cycles of discipline are influenced by the seasons. From October — December, I am cold, tired, hungry and generally unhappy. In January with my newfound measurable goals, I am eagerly ready to take on the year. Discipline comes back and I’m back to my happy self…for 10 months.
I’ve become aware of these cycles over the past couple years. I’ve seen what I can do earlier this year when I was up at 4:30 a.m. and going to the gym 4–5 days a week. I’ve also found how much I burned myself out by doing that, taking care of the children, working and managing the house. I became consumed. The consumption fueled my fire. The fire fueled my discipline. And then the fire extinguished.
Without self-discipline, success is impossible, period. — Lou Holtz
I have goals. I want to be stronger, eat healthier, learn new skills, find hobbies I’m passionate about, and one day start my own company. I am motivated to achieve these things but I lack discipline. I do not put in effort to achieve my goals.
The pandemic, and years of discipline cycles, have taught me that consistency is essential to success. When I am disciplined, I am consistent, healthy, energetic and happy. Throughout quarantine and COVID, I have managed to work out consistently at home 5 days a week. We’ve been able to hike more with the children and I’ve been increasing my steps. In that time I didn’t think about lacking hobbies, I just put in the effort to achieve a goal and fell into a routine.
Unfortunately, the dreaded October has arrived. It’s the time of year where I take out my joggers and hoodies and sit on the couch with a blanket to watch tv. I hibernate.
But this year, I don’t want to succumb to my annual discipline cycle. I don’t want to ruin months of effort. I want to continue working out at least 20 days a month and walk between 3–5 miles a day. In fact, I want to exceed that and here’s how I plan to do it.
I will make time to exercise in the morning.
It is natural to hibernate. It’s understandable to lose motivation when it gets dark earlier. For this reason, I will make time to exercise in the morning. Since I usually start work at 8:30, I will need to block time before my first meeting to exercise. It’s possible. I’ve done it before.
I will take breaks during working hours.
I sit at my desk all day from 8:30 to usually 6pm. I get up to eat lunch, help the kids with their school these days and do minor tasks around the house. I will take breaks more often to stop, drop and …do pushups! I’ve realized that sometimes allocating an hour is too difficult. Taking breaks to do pushups or squats or dreaded burpees will increase my heart rate and contribute to my daily workout.
I will exercise while my children are at sports.
It’s very easy to take my son to soccer practice and sit in the bleachers watching him. Or maybe I sit in the car on a call with a customer. There is no excuse. While he is playing soccer, I can walk the field. I can do pushups. I can do squats. I can do something other than sit on my ass in the car.
I will not let winter get the best of me.
My home gym is in the garage. In the winter months, I dread walking outside of my house to the garage. I will bring some equipment indoors so I can exercise when my motivation to go outside is low. I will also buy a small heater for the garage for my heavy lifting days.
I will reward myself.
Each month, I will write down what I want to purchase — a household item, clothes, earrings, etc. I will allow myself to purchase that item after I work out at least 20 days that month.
It’s ironic that the word discipline comes from the Latin word disciplina which means “to learn” because you can’t be disciplined until you learn. You have to try and fail to learn how much work is required to succeed.
By understanding my challenges with consistency, I am able to tackle them. And by maintaining discipline when I’m unmotivated, I will break the cycle. My hope is that breaking the cycle will contribute to becoming disciplined in other areas of my life. Discipline starts with making a decision to do and be more and this is me making a decision. Now, let’s do this.