My alarm chimed me awake at 6:33, and I turned it off. Not even snooze. I’m too tired to get up for yoga today… I went to bed too late… Sleeping is just as important as exercising…
But of course, I didn’t even fall back asleep. By 6:55 I was checking Facebook, and by 7:13 I was responding to the “mommy!” call coming from my toddler’s room. The window of opportunity was closed.
Being disciplined about a good yoga regimen is a constant struggle for me, despite knowing how it invigorates me. Once life normalized post-holidays, I committed to getting up early (and therefore, going to bed early) so that I could do a quick 25 minutes in the morning.
I’ve been decent about it, but EVERY morning, I’m still making a choice. It’s just not at that mindless, routine, habitual level yet. I’m still working towards the discipline.
Self-discipline feels like a near-mythical trait to many people. They believe that it (and its many iterations–will-power, strength, resolve, etc) is either something you have or don’t have. But studies show that it’s a skill–some people may be more naturally inclined, but anyone can learn and develop strategies to achieve it. And like a muscle that you can gain, it can atrophy through neglect.
So how do you cultivate and keep it? Here’s what works for me:
When I complete small, ancillary tasks ahead of time, it’s more likely I’ll be successful when I get to the main task. When I set out my yoga mat and clothes the night before, it’s much easier to get out of bed in the morning than if I have to gather everything in the darkness when the rest of the house is still asleep. Taking a few steps out of the process before I even have the option of quitting really helps me get over the hump of starting.
Find helpful tools
Part of developing good discipline can also be about finding the right tools to help. I like a good planner, and am eagerly awaiting the arrival of my Passion Planner! Sometimes a good “tool” is a person that can provide advice if you’re out of your depth. Of course, no object or person is going to do the work for you–it’s still up to you in the end, but these things can release some of the burden or help keep you on task.
Build in Accountability
When I was a student, I could procrastinate an assignment for weeks, but the deadline and threat of a grade ensured that I would write the paper, even if it meant pulling an all-nighter. But now? Most of my goals and to-dos are for myself and monitored only by me. I need to create some measure of outside accountability.
Depending on the goal, you may be able to join a group of others working toward the same goal, or you might find a friend or family member to keep you on task. I’m knackered on Monday evening after getting my kid to sleep, but my husband always encourages me to get out to write. It’s very helpful and I’m always much happier when I’ve pushed myself (or let myself be pushed) out the door!
Keep your eye on the big picture
I find this especially useful for fitness or money goals, which are often sabotaged by immediate gratification. You’re trying to save for a house, but that cute sweater (and the sale price) is just speaking to you.
Find ways to keep the bigger goals in view. I take a near-daily browse on realtor.ca to remind myself why it’s worth it to keep the credit card stashed. It’s only slightly torturous 🙂
What do you do to cultivate self-discipline and reach your goals?