“Showing up is half the battle.”

If you’ve been to a Gold’s Gym, you may have seen this same quote. I chuckled at it as I pushed through the doors. I attended classes and used the treadmill regularly. I’m far from being an athlete, but I try to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

In fact, I feel that I have a pretty good handle on adulting. I take care of my responsibilities at work and home, with family and friends, etc. I feel like I make the effort to show up.

I have made the decision to screw over my future self, but I saw it as a choice. I could mow the grass or I could wait another couple of days and struggle with higher temps and longer grass. Sometimes, I mowed. Sometimes, I screwed over my future self.

I didn’t see it as a big deal though. I am self-disciplined when I need to be…at least as much as anyone else. I see frequent discussions along these lines through-out social media. Two groups, both of whom impact my life greatly, mention it almost daily in online posts.

For those writing, the buzz words are often inspiration (from the muse) and writer’s block.

For those exercising, it’s about finding motivation and willpower.

Let’s quickly define these words so we are all on the same page.

Self-discipline: the ability to control one’s feelings and overcome one’s weaknesses; the ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptations to abandon it.

Willpower: control exerted to do something or restrain impulses.

Inspiration: the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.

Motivation: the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.

And, I’m going to throw in one more word – priority.

Priority: the fact or condition of being regarded or treated as more important.

Again, I felt I had willpower, motivation, and inspiration to maintain a mostly disciplined life when it was needed. Sure, I let some small things slide, but I’ve got this.

Then the Covid-19 chaos struck.

I don’t got this. [Everyone is picturing that Supernatural scene with Castiel, right?]

Anyway, turns out, I don’t actually have self-discipline. It’s more that I am a creature of habit.

I had set up a good routine that allowed me to work out, get outside, meditate, eat well, write, and train as part of my daily and weekly life. No, it wasn’t perfect. It was rather healthy and easy for me. Staying at home due to the pandemic destroyed that routine.

**Side note, I do fully understand that many have been hit harder than me. Many didn’t just lose healthy habits, they lost jobs, loved ones, and even weeks in the hospital. This isn’t meant to compare. This is meant to reach others who feel maybe they don’t have the right to ‘complain’, that their struggles aren’t as significant. Everyone is fighting a battle and everyone has the right to fight with everything they have to be the best version of themselves. Now, back to my ramble about self-discipline.**

I have flailed during the pandemic and 2020 hasn’t been pretty in that regard. BTW, I have a whole blog series about Pandemic Survival Tips if you want to delve into that. As 2020 continues, I don’t see a good ending in sight in the US and my money is actually on zombies this fall. I know that’s not at all helpful or inspiring so let’s just keep this post moving.

The new habits I’ve created recently aren’t particularly healthy for me, and I continue to struggle to maintain the previous lifestyle I had once found rather easy.

Perhaps, you feel the same. I’m not criticizing you or me. We all faced new situations this year, and we’ve had to adapt, to learn, to grow. With growth and change often comes pain.

There are definitely some hard lessons I’ve had to face about myself and that I’m still facing. My discovery that I lack self-discipline is certainly one of them. That’s what brings me to this post and my 3 tips to NOT screw over your future self.

  • Think of self-discipline as a muscle. You can’t dead lift the same amount as someone who has trained for months or years longer than you. You probably should try running before jumping in to run a marathon. It is exhausting to suddenly write 5k words a day every day if you’ve never written. You must train that self-discipline muscles to help you achieve any goals you set. Start small and understand it’s a journey.
  • Your self-discipline muscle can be over-worked and get tired. A trainer/ dietitian once told me that if I put too tough of regulations on myself on Monday that I was likely to struggle later in the week. My willpower hadn’t developed enough to handle the rules and regulations I was trying to follow. It’s frustrating, and it’s a set-up to fail. I can definitely relate to that meme about eating a salad Monday – Wednesday then indulging in a 6000 calorie junk food binge when stressed on Thursday. Again, remember that it’s a journey, a marathon and not a sprint.
  • Test yourself and expect to fail. Routines and support systems are wonderful tools and should be embraced. Use the SMART system to help you set reasonable goals for whatever changes you are making. However, expect some struggles and some failures. That is part of the system and doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Expect them, accept them, and keep going. I’ve written about failures several times in my blog so if this hits you hard, check out these posts: here and here.

By not screwing over your future self, you can become the best version of yourself. Isn’t that what we all want?

In such crazy times, couldn’t the world use more people becoming their best selves? Instead of criticizing and unfriending others, can we focus on being better ourselves?

Let’s take this a step further. Yes, we want to train our self-discipline so we can reach our goals, but how do we do that?

That’s where the SMART system comes in. If you want to exercise more, set your goals. If you want to write more, set your goals. If you want to stick to a financial budget, set your goals. If you want to be more active in politics, set your goals. If you want to change careers, set your goals. Then refer to the points above about training your self-discipline to stick to them.

The bottom line is we won’t always find the motivation or inspiration to do what needs to be done. There’s a frequently repeated expression by those in the Les Mills On-Demand Facebook group, just press play.

This is self-discipline. Don’t feel like it? Do it anyway. Train yourself to be more disciplined to meet your goals.

Remember how I added priority to the definition list? Another complaint you hear most often – I don’t have time. However, it’s sometimes a matter of priorities, not time. You need to place yourself and your goals as a priority…if you want to make a change.

There is a spin on this that I want you to try. Most of us don’t really like mowing the grass, exercising, paying the bills, cleaning the house, or the hundreds of other adulting tasks in our lives. When you exercise your self-discipline and do them anyway, take a moment to be proud of that. Celebrate it and celebrate yourself.

And here’s another spin to put on whatever goals you are setting that test and train your self-discipline. Add gratitude and kindness.

If you’re looking for a small daily task to train your self-discipline, tell yourself something you are grateful for every day. Don’t just be vague and say your health or your family. Look for small specific things – a flower you saw blooming, a surprise message from a friend, sharing a meal with a loved one.

Yes, success, a better body, more money, a new job, etc. are all admirable goals. They are all things we celebrate as desirable and even heroic. We need to see gratitude and kindness as heroic traits too.

I know much has been said of Chadwick Boseman’s death. I didn’t know him personally (obviously), but his death struck a chord with me. In a time where so many share so much to get attention online, he fought his battle in silence. He also faced mocking criticism for his journey. If you or your family has experience in cancer, you know the weight loss, mood swings, exhaustion, and physical sickness associated with the treatments and struggle. To say battling cancer is ugly is an understatement.

How does this apply to this post?

Motivation and inspiration may come from external factors. Self-discipline comes only from you. No one may ever know the full extent of your struggles at any given time. You may be mocked or trolled online or even by family and friends. This means your support system may fail you. In fact, instead of finding motivation and inspiration, you may feel beaten down by life, your family, and/ or social media. You must dig deep inside yourself to reach your goals. Your battles may take place silently without anyone witnessing them. You must learn to be grateful for your successes and be kind to yourself when you fail – both are part of the journey.

On the flip side, you don’t know others’ struggles either.

Training yourself to develop self-discipline, kindness, and gratitude is a great way to not screw over your future self. It’s also a great way to not screw over others. Use your self-discipline, kindness, and gratitude when you interact with others (in person or online).

Be a hero – train yourself to be self-disciplined, kind, and grateful.

As I said, we don’t know each other’s stories, so if you’d like to share, please do so. You can comment below or contact me directly (check the Contact button on my website). I’m always looking for others to guest blog here and would like to have you share your individual point of view on the pandemic, training, happiness, life lessons, writing/ reading, and so much more.

Until next time, show up and be a hero, my friends!

-RSJ

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