The biggest factor of success in that all aspects of life involve the practice of discipline. We need to look at discipline like a muscle that needs exercise in order for it to grow stronger. The stronger discipline gets, the better we respond to the situations in our life, and where some we have no control, we respond to it on reflex. The practice of discipline becomes a practice of excellence. Once we put our mind to a goal and we have mastered the discipline, there is nothing stopping us.
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The Practice of Discipline is the Practice of Excellence
I want to talk about discipline because discipline is one of the biggest success factors that we have in managing our time and energy and getting the results that we want. Very often, people say they want something. They create a goal, they make a verbal commitment or a resolution, but at the end of the day, they don’t do what it takes in order to meet that goal. Just because we say it and we said it doesn’t mean that it’s going to happen. We have to take action. We have to put forth effort. We may need to make sacrifices in order to make that happen if that goal is important to us. The more important it is to us, the more drive we’ll have in order to push through obstacles to get there.
There are some techniques to do that. I want to talk about the muscle of discipline because it is a muscle. We need to practice discipline in every area of our life to fill up the bank, to build that muscle up, so that when we need it, we can access those muscles. If we don’t exercise it and continue to exercise it in different areas, then that muscle will experience atrophy. It will shrink versus increase. We need to exhibit discipline in each area of our life. When it comes to our health, what kind of discipline do you show around the foods that you eat? Do you do what you know is good for you? Do you make up excuses and say, “I’ll do that tomorrow,” or make rationalizations of why this is okay for you when it’s not good for your body? You eat a lot of sugar but you know that it’s not good for you. Sugar is poison to our bodies. I’m not saying that you should give it up entirely. That’s a choice that you can make. However, how do you focus on doing the things that are best for your body so that you do everything in moderation? It requires discipline. It also requires discipline to exercise on a regular basis.
I was talking to my son about discipline because he’s very disciplined when it comes to his homework, but he’s not disciplined about his time on the computer. I asked him, “Why do you think that in the military, they have people make their beds? Is it important when they come back from whatever they’re doing that day that their beds are perfectly made? Is that important?” Often, he challenges me to say, “It’s not important. I don’t need to take out the trash right now because it’s not urgent. It’s not important.” I’m trying to help him to understand that we are building that muscle of discipline. That’s the reason why the military has people make their bed in the morning. It’s a practice of discipline. It’s another area where they can demonstrate that they are in control. They’re logical side of their brain is telling them that this is the rule. This is what needs to be done as part of the structure of the military. It gets to be done in excellence because whatever you do, that’s another form of discipline. It challenges them in other areas. It trains their brain to be thinking of other areas that they will be and show up disciplined and in excellence.
It is also something that you can control. It feels good to come back to a made bed because you start the day with something you can control. A lot of things might go out of your control, but when you come back to it, you’re reminded that there are some things that you do control in your life. You may not be able to control the circumstances around you, but you can control some of the aspects in your environment and you can control how you respond to various different things in your circumstances. It requires discipline.
I want you to challenge yourself as to where and what areas are you practicing discipline. Maybe it’s a simple thing that you can start by making your bed in excellence every morning. What else can you do that you could say, “I’m going to do that at a higher level. I’m going to do it in a greater form of excellence,” so training your discipline? I’d like you to find two areas. Making your bed is a simple one if you don’t already do that. If you do already do that, what is another area of your life that you could create greater discipline? I want you to do this for one week and then check in with us and let us know on the Facebook page associated with this podcast episode. How did that go for you? Did you notice a difference in how you felt? Did you notice a difference in being able to more easily exhibit discipline when you needed it in other areas?
The more you exercise your discipline, the bigger that muscle gets and the quicker you can respond with it. It makes you faster, more agile, and more flexible to meet the needs of the situation. That’s what we need. We need, in any particular moment, to know that we’ve got this, that we’ve got the discipline to approach this in the way that we need to in excellence. It also helps us to offset that impulsive side of ourselves. We have anger, sadness, hurt, fear, guilt, shame, those types of unproductive emotions. When we stay in them, they can derail what we do with our time. They can affect our time management incredibly. They can be a total time suck, a drain. By practicing discipline, we’re also practicing emotional discipline. It is the ability to recognize when we’re having thoughts and saying things that are not in our favor. We can be aware of it and we can shift it quickly. It’s amazing that that muscle of discipline can cross various different areas that are going to help us to take back time, to be more efficient and effective, to be more deliberate in what we do.
I’m looking forward to hearing your feedback. After week one, I challenge you to do a second week and see what the difference is between week zero, week one, and then week two. After that, you can decide. Do you want to stick with this and continue to build your discipline? Did you have enough and you did it, and it’s like anything else that you might start that you decide that it is not what you want to continue? That’s okay, that’s your choice, but I want to give you a higher level of awareness around discipline and the difference that it makes in your life.
Thanks for being here. This is Penny Zenker with Take Back Time. The choice is yours. Are you up for this challenge? I hope so.