Discipline! Let’s get to work!

Last night felt like a watershed moment in some ways. Although as with most things about self care these moments are simply reminders of things we already know either instinctively or because we’ve been told them and are choosing to ignore our knowledge.

I was reading Daily Self Discipline by Martin Meadows and he said simply that succeeding in anything is about discipline. And I thought – you are so right! Think about sports men and women. We often fall into the trap of thinking that people are just naturally talented – and there is an element of that. Some people have the physiology or the genetics that maybe gives them a leg up. But none of the great sports people have got to where they are without sheer hard work born out of discipline. In Mindset, Carol Dweck, talks about having a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset. The person with a fixed mindset says – this is the life I have been dealt and nothing I do will change it. The person with the growth mindset says by diligent hard work, exploration, education, and discipline I can achieve anything. And this is true! She talks about a conversation with tennis superstar John McEnroe who explained that he had a fixed mindset and that he feels, looking back, that this led to his on court tantrums and antics. He felt he was gifted and had a right to win simply because he was John McEnroe. He skipped training, didn’t focus, because he felt he would win no matter what because he had ‘it’ and others didn’t. He feels he would have been even better, making more of what he had been given, if he had a growth mindset.

We can achieve a great deal with discipline. The other example would be eating a healthy diet. It is so easy to give into temptation and can feel so hard to prepare food in advance to take to work or make the healthy choice. But if we do this we will feel more positive and more in control. I know that my healthy choices slip when something is going on that I don’t have control over. It’s then a vicious cycle. I eat something unhealthy or I have a few glasses of wine on a night, and before I know where I’m at my diet has shifted away from my usual healthy eating and a measures approach to being negative in terms of my well-being.

Discipline is easier when you have a plan and integrate things into your routine. I was thinking of all of the positives of my morning walk with the dog. I use it as a kind of meditation, more like mindfulness really. I love just watching the dog being a dog. She loves just doing what dogs should do – without a care in the world. The morning walk with the dog (or without for that matter) has lots of self care pluses! Here they are:

Being outdoors is good for beating stress
Being outdoors in the early morning sunlight primes the process for sleep at the end of the day
Walking for 30 minutes beats stress and means you’ve already had some great physical exercise without barely trying
Walking mindfully, and deep breathing, is good for you. Research with social workers who engaged in mindfulness showed a reduction in sickness and stress levels…. suck in that fresh air!

But, it takes discipline to get out of bed early enough to do this and to undertake the walk without cutting it short or rushing it. Here’s the rub when it comes to discipline. You will feel better if you focus and get things done. Be that walking the dog, or getting that report written, or saving a little money every month, or preparing healthy food to take to work. Life is not easy, happiness is not a given. If you are disciplined in the way you approach the elements of your life you will initiate change…. and then you need the discipline to keep going. It’s hard, not going to lie. But keep going, and when you fall, pick yourself up, refocus, and crack on!

Have a great day!

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