Every morning my alarm beeps to wake me at 5:00am. On most days I wake up 2 or 3 minutes before my alarm sounds. I instantly get out of bed and start my day – a strong cup of coffee, then head out into the early morning for my daily run. Running every morning is a positive way to start the day and provides energy and focus for my goals.
Is it easy?
Sometimes not! Some mornings when tired and when it is cold and raining a run doesn’t ‘feel’ like a good idea. I know from experience, however, that after the first few hundred yards the familiar positive feeling will kick in and I will feel good. I have been running for about fifteen years now and it has had a huge effect on my health, focus and energy. Running is one of the great, positive habits that I have brought into my life. I do fall off the wagon from time to time but after a few weeks of not running I feel the difference in my body and my mind and head back out! Running, like writing and reading are the good habits in my life but they require effort and to maintain requires discipline!
What is discipline?
I think for many of us discipline is a horrible thing. We ask ourselves, ‘why would I deny myself what I really want, and what I want is to roll over and sleep.’ Discipline is not a horrible thing is it is simply a tool to get what we want. Perhaps, we want a fit and strong body – running is a means to that end and discipline is the awareness to focus more on the end than the means.
With a big enough ‘why’ and ‘how’ is possible!When I think about the major goals that I have achieved through my life the most meaningful and important have, almost always, been the easiest. Random goals without major drivers behind them never last very long but when the motivation is huge and fixed in my mind the obstacles seems to just fall aside. The trick to using discipline to achieve goals is to start with a huge ‘why’! Use your imagination to build clarity of vision. Use your desire to create a huge want, a ‘must have’ for the goal and then use discipline to get you through the tough times.
What makes an athlete push through the pain, the writer struggle past rejection, the business owner fight past isolation to achieve the great dream? It is the discipline to focus on the ‘why’ and forget about the ‘how’.
Where does discipline come from?
I believe that discipline is, itself, a habit. I also believe that anyone can develop ironclad discipline by following a simple step-by-step process. I have found that by slowing adding structure in easy areas of my life that my discipline builds. For example, I used to struggle with getting up in the morning. I would push the snooze button or turn off the alarm all together and roll over. I solved this by putting my alarm in the kitchen. This forced me to get out of bed and by the time I made it to the kitchen I was awake. I find that having a very clean home and office space encourages more focus and makes the more challenging goals a bit easier. The key, for me, to build discipline with big goals is be very disciplined with dozens of smaller goals that were relatively easy. Running everyday, might be a struggle but picking up wet towels I could do. Combine a dozen or more minor disciplines and the larger disciplines tend to fall into place. If I find myself struggling with the big disciplines I don’t give up I go back to the minor disciplines to re-establish focus.
This is a version of ‘count the pennies and the pounds take care of themselves’ – it is true!
Small disciplines, introduced over time, change our thinking and we become highly goal-oriented. Once our mind becomes goal-oriented we become more disciplined and stronger and stronger. As the goals become bigger and more meaningful we will find that the little disciplines we practiced support the larger disciplines needed to reach our bigger goals.
It is an upward spiral!
Most of us think of spirals being downward, little things fall apart, building until our world seems out of control. Well, the opposite can happen too! Seemingly trivial positive actions, deliberately added together create bigger and bigger success all fueled by the introduction of some very minor disciplines into our lives.
Well, the sun just broke through the clouds and it is time for my Sunday run!