Along The Way
The journey to get where we want to be is more important than the destination itselfBrowse Topics
2. The Wander Notebook – The Art of Being Disciplined and Increasing Your Willpower
Thursday, 17th of June 2021, 11 am – a quite sunny day
The flight took quite a while. I left the airport and stretch my arms in the air to relax my stiff muscles. I look around, wondering where I am and noticed that I am still in the same city I left. It is already summer and I feel how the sunrays warm my heart after the long cold lockdown-winter. The sun and the blue sky gives me hope for whatever the future holds for me.
It is not important where I am, but I know very well WHY I am here. It isn’t a coincidence.
It is our own choices, which lead us to our destinations.
I am here to learn the art of being disciplined.
This is my first step to grow and it is one of the hardest – for me, the master of procrastination. I organized my kitchen drawer instead of studying. I was too tired to do my workout. When it was already 5pm I thought, yeah the day is over…tomorrow I will start. Tomorrow everything will be different – a familiar sentence.
What is self-discipline?
Self-discipline means focus and doing what you have to do, no matter what. No matter what kind of emotions you have or circumstances you are in. Only if you master self-discipline and self-control you can grow. It is what you do consistently; it becomes a habit. Don’t find excuses why you don’t do what you should do.
There are plenty of articles out there, which promise you a dream body within 2 to 4 weeks. How to be more successful in your job, to gain spirituality in a comfortable, easy, fast way. The articles promise you that you will reach your goals effortless. We are humans and our natural behaviour is that we want everything comfortable and easy.
The truth is that the reality is another one. You have to invest time and in most cases it is not easy, but hard work. This shouldn’t be demotivating; be just clear about it. See things how they really are. I know that it is a long way to go, but that the hard work is an investment in myself. When I look back, I will see the growth.
What I did…
Discipline is something you have to learn. Some people may be already very disciplined. Others, like me, have to learn it (again); especially after a mental illness it is very hard to come back into the flow. See everything you want to learn new like a muscle you want to train. It is weak in the beginning and you have to exercise it to make it stronger. Wake up every morning and train yourself to be disciplined until it becomes your normal behaviour.
What motivates you?
First of all, I thought about what I want to do; HOW I want to fill my day. I thought about WHY I want to do those things. A workout/physical exercises give me strength in my body and mind. It also gives me vitality. Meditation gives me peace. Even simple things like the chores we have to do on a daily basis, eg. cleaning my room, making my bed in the morning or going to my yearly doctor’s appointments give me a positive feeling. It suggests “yeah…I have my life together”. You don’t like your job? The circumstances might not be perfect, but you earn money. Money gives us in our society a kind of certainty. With money you can buy your food or pay your rent. You don’t have to be hungry and have a roof and probably a warm bed. That’s great, right? When you have a “stable base” you can apply for other jobs. With this example I just wanted to show you that you can find motivation in everything you do. Give yourself a moment and try to find positive explanations for the things you do. This is your motivation.
What I noticed is that when I am motivated everything seems very easy to do; it is good to know WHY you do things. However, right now we are facing the reality and I am telling you that I know very well that I won’t be always motivated (I guess even successful people like Elon Musk has his bad days); that’s why I have to disciplined.
In the beginning of the year I started to workout again, but this time I didn’t see it as a new year resolution. I felt sick and uncomfortable in my body and I really want to stick with it on a long term. I was really motivated, but this time I didn’t overdo. I started with 15 minutes, 4 times per week; after a while I increased the intensity. It is right that you should overcome your own limits, but not in the beginning. My workout is just an example, you can apply this on everything you do. May it be your study, your daily chores or your big visions, dreams and goals in life.
I saw results fast. Fast results give us motivation. Guess what happened? The long middlepart came around the corner. There were times when I was ill and couldn’t workout, there were times when my days were so overloaded that my only thought was sleep. The stagnation stressed me out. Be patient with yourself during such times. However, if you are a bit grumpy and just want to procrastinate and distract yourself IS NOT AN EXCUSE. In the long middlepart you may not see results on a daily basis. You will stuck from time to time, you will fail. Nevertheless, don’t give up. If you overcome such episodes and keep going with discipline, you will be unbelievable proud of yourself. When I did study, when I did practice the ukulele, when I did my workout, even when I was grumpy and my mind said, “nah, not today, maybe tomorrow”, I felt so much better afterwards.
Schedule your todo list
A todo list and a mind map are good methods to get a clue about all the things you have to do and not to forget something. What really helped me to get closer to my goals and to actually get more things done, was scheduling the things on my todo list, also my workout, time for creativity, my study. In the moment when you have a fix time slot for it, it is way harder to find excuses and not be disciplined. I became more realistic of what I can manage within 24 hours – 8 hrs sleep included. Your schedule and your time slots are an important appointment with yourself. It is not possible to not just come to your own appointment.
Side note: Life shouldn’t be filled only with chores and todo. Write a tada list, filled with fun and good treatments for yourself, and make also time for the tadas in your life.
Delayed your gratification
Yes, eat your personal disgusting frog and start your day with your hardest chore. If you postpone it until the evening, you will think the whole day about it. It is harder to focus on your other tasks, because your mind will wander all the time.
With self-discipline I have to mention delayed gratification. Do you want to study for your exam on Monday (long time benefits) or do you want to go partying with your friends until 5 am? Nothing is wrong with partying, this is just an example for delayed gratification and how you lay your focus in life. Make sure for yourself what you REALLY want in life. You could try thousands of different diets to loose weight and do fitness for one month. You will definitely see results, but in most cases the jojo-effect comes in place and you cannot hold your weight. Choose a bit more discomfort, work harder and wait a bit longer for your gratification and your results will be on a complete different level.
I have big goals and dreams, a 500 pages script to study. I sit in front of the highest mountain I have ever seen in my life and couldn’t even see the peak. So I set a deadline and try to achieve my goals within that time. Whether it be to learn a specific song on my ukulele, to draw a picture or to finish my script. Then I broke my todos and goals into small manageable monthly, weekly and daily steps. Yes, now I can see the peak behind the clouds and I thought that I must must have a fantastic view from it, so I started to climb the mountain, step by step. Of course I do a break from time to time to look back and enjoy my current view. I can see what I already managed to do, not only what I have to do.
Self-discipline and spirituality
Aristotle said: „Through self-discipline comes freedom.“
What I already learned is that self-discipline and spirituality go hand in hand. With self-discipline you decide not be a slave to your own thoughts, emotions, circumstances, mind and body. I am not really the kind of person who sits down and be calm. I want to jump into rivers and dance wild. I know that there is so much more in life I can imagine. I want the truth. So I did it. I sat down. Consistently. Daily. Even if I was overwhelmed by my emotions or felt tired. The time varied. Sometimes I do it for only 10 minutes. However doing it for 10 minutes is more than not doing it for 10 minutes. It is self-discipline what makes me sit down. People often ask themselves how to meditate. I asked that question, too. The answer is very simple…with consistence practice.
Self-discipline is one of the highest forms of self love.
It is how you see your own value. It is a choice.
I am still in the beginning. I am not perfect. I do procrastinate from time to time. This is what I experienced so far and I got an anticipation what Aristotle meant and I am eager to know what else I could do with hard work. Writing this article gives me motivation and I hope I could motivate you as well. Let’s go and do our work. Practice your musical instrument until you feel the pain in your fingers and then don’t stop. Throw yourself into the flow and you will not regret it. Even if you fail, you get personal development and growth.
If you don’t do the right things, the right things will not come to you.