It's funny, today I was going to remind everyone about the importance of having some self-discipline during the holidays, and my friend Todd Burrier beat me to it :) His blog posting is below, and it's great. I know you'll get as much out of it as I did.
The other day, I wrote about the importance of being intentional, especially those who are watching their weight and/or are diabetic, and how the holidays present a lot of potential problems for them. It seems like all the parties and events we attend involve foods we shouldn't eat. "Well, just one won't hurt," or "I know I shouldn't, but it is the holidays," are common excuses.
But excuses don't help us get to where we need to go. Instead, they hold us back from our potential. Self-discipline (Being Intentional), however, can get us to where we need to be, no matter what we're striving for. It could be better health, improved finances, overcoming addictions, or more positive relationships. What is it for you?
Sadly, the vast majority of us lack this important trait. Maybe that's why many of us are in the negative situations we find ourselves in. I hope you'll find some pearls of wisdom in Todd's post. Enjoy!
Give Yourself the Gift of Self-Discipline
I wish it was within my powers to grant you the gift of self-discipline. If I had this ability, I would give this particular gift to everyone I know. However, I don't own this power... but YOU DO...as it relates to yourself. You can't give self-discipline to someone else, but you can give it to yourself....or maybe I should say you can teach it to, or condition it in, yourself. This one thing can lead to an awesome life in any way you want it to be awesome.
What is self-discipline? From my perspective, it is simply doing what you need to do, whether you feel like it or not, without anyone else making you do it. The challenge for all of us, is that this means there is a CHOICE. Typically the choice is between what we need to do and what we want to do, or feel like doing. Since human beings by nature like comfort, we are always going to be drawn to the want to...because rarely do we want to do something we don't like, or that makes us uncomfortable.
You come home from work and you're tired. You need to exercise, but you would rather be a couch potato...which one wins? You have an assignment due in a few days but you want to go to the party tonight, what do you do? Do are trying to lose weight and you have reached your food limit for the day and someone offers you a piece of your favorite chocolate cake... I could create as many examples as there are situations, but you get the point. No one is perfect. Even people who have developed self-discipline occasionally give in....but the key is how often?
Ironically when you live a life of self-discipline, the need to choose reduces. Here's what I mean...in each of the three little examples I gave, a person who was already self-disciplined on a regular basis, would not have to choose....you would have already exercised earlier or be conditioned mentally that it isn't an option (not exercising) and that the couch will be there later....the assignment would already be mostly, if not all the way done so you go to the party if you want to.... your weight is under control and you can eat the cake if you want it...
As a younger man I had little to no self-discipline. Eventually the cost to my quality of life got too high. I was unproductive as a person. I wasn't healthy. It affected every corner of my being. I started one habit at a time to build the framework for myself. I began exercising. I made myself do it everyday whether I liked it or not. Then I started reading and studying personal development. I did it everyday whether I wanted to or not. After a little while, I went from being someone who was unreliable to someone who kept commitments. The little discipline growth began compounding on itself. I began always doing what I needed to before I did what I wanted to. This began to eliminate the issues that procrastination had created in my life. When I added planning skills, procrastination became a complete thing of the past.
Many of our struggles in life are "self-inflicted" and they are rooted in simply not doing what we could do. The late Jim Rohn used to say that the formula for disaster is "Could, should, don't." It's not so hard to change this to "Can, will, do." If you struggle with self-discipline, make this the first gift you give yourself for the holidays and the New Year. Start with something small and simply make a commitment to do it daily. Then do it daily for 3-4 straight weeks. Again, it doesn't have to be a huge endeavor, just something worthwhile that you commit to doing daily, and then you do this one thing no matter what.
This will show you that you can do it. This will begin to build the confidence and self-belief that you can discipline yourself. Then you add something else. Do this until you have begun to input new disciplines into all the areas of your life that matter. This is a gift that will give back to you and others manifold for the rest of your life. This I know from experience.
To learn more about Todd, check out his website