Friday, May 14, 2010

discipline- smishipline

true discipline is hard to come by. you can make it for a little while as long as you're feeling motivated. but what happens to your level of discipline when your motivation begins to fade? when your goal that was so important a few weeks ago doesn't seem as important any more?
for example, i decided about a month ago that i was going to run a half marathon this summer and a full marathon in december, which might be a totally unrealistic goal for me, but i'm shooting for the moon. at the time, i was running once or twice a week, practicing yoga twice a week and doing some cycling. my goal was to focus more on running. so i found the marathon dates i wanted and set my intentions to begin training. every time i ran, i was excited, pushing my times to get better. so for about 3 weeks i was running 4-5 times a week. then i rode my bike 1oo miles with my friends one saturday and then took a few days off from running. then a few more days. now here i am, lacking motivation to get back to training. it's crazy how mental the whole thing is. when i'm running, i think- this is easy, always do this. and then when i'm not running, it sounds so un-fun to go running. what if we could somehow bottle up the motivation we feel when we're "in the zone" and take a little swig when we're not feeling it. i have yet to figure out how to bottle it up, but i've been thinking a lot about the things that make motivation begin to take a nose-dive. if we can catch it before it starts, maybe we can figure out to stay in the zone longer. so here are 3 things that i think get in the way of staying disciplined.

1. too much relaxation. as americans, we have this entitlement complex going on. we work hard for 5 days and then tell ourselves we deserve to sit on our butts and watch all our saved up dvr'd shows all day. i work a long, busy week. by friday, i want down time. but if i give myself too much mindless relaxation, i find it harder to come out of it and get back in the zone. i've decided to start scheduling my weekends too. give yourself a couple hours of complete self-indulgent down time. no working, thinking or anything motivated in any way by guilt. then get to it. work on personal goals, your life, things you want to make better. bear grylls tweeted yesterday "it is observed that successful people get ahead in the time that other people waste." so be careful how much time you waste. and for the record, tv watching is always a waste of time. i know lost is winding down to the finale, but don't trick yourself in to thinking that you have to watch tv. it's a time-sucker. willy wonka was right, it'll turn your brain to mush.

2. trying to be perfect. i know some people that have a crazy schedule, they go grocery shopping at 5am, workout and have quiet time all before their kids get up. that's great for them. however, that's not realistic for me. and you have to be honest if that's not you either. i can handle a rigorous work-out schedule, 12 hours days at work, perfect eating habits and a perfectly clean house for about 7 days. then i go into relapse and veg out watching felicity and eating chocolate for a few days. i haven't gotten to where i can be perfect over time. but i have found that if i give myself allowances every day, i can maintain discipline much longer. i allow myself to take a longer lunch, maybe skip a work out day or take it easy when i feel like it or eat dessert. after 7 days, i don't feel like i've deprived myself and have exerted all my self-discipline. mark brewer ( will tell you, self-discipline is an exhaustible resource. so don't put yourself in situations where you'll have to use it all. surround yourself with positive influences.

3. trying to conjure self-discipline. you can't snap your fingers and make yourself do what is best for you while putting aside what you really want. what you can do is be aware. be aware that you are weak in some areas and know how you would like to grow. every time you fail in that area, don't beat yourself up. just take note of why you did that, how you felt and what you can do better next time. over time, you'll change. my running isn't going great because i've had too much relaxation and it feels terrible. what i've decided i need to do to get better is enlist some running buddies. i can't do this alone and it really helps to have those positive influences.

true discipline is not being perfect, it's being better overall.


marijkejane said...

I love the exhaustible resource thing... and all of it. Wish we'd had this conversation face to face. I mean, we probably did, kind of. Bits and pieces here and there. But I miss you.

Candace said...

my only addition to the whole discipline conversation is purely subjective. i cannot be disciplined without the help of others. what ever my goal or issue is, i have to first be disciplined to invite others to be part of the thing - either actively participating or checking in regularly. i cannot do anything of any value on my own. for me that is the most important discipline - the discipline of inviting others.