Self Discipline - The biggest lie ever told*

Thursday, 2 February 2017, By Ryan Bartlett

It's one of the most prevalent myths of our culture: Self Discipline - Leo Babauta

 

The "disciplined person" who leads the "disciplined life", I'm happy to say, is a lie. The truth is we don't need any more discipline than we already have. We just need to manage and direct it better.

Contrary to what most people believe, success is not a marathon of disciplined action, rather it can actually be seen as a short race - a sprint fuelled by our already existing discipline, using it long enough to let a habit form and take over.

 

When we know something needs to be done (or we see others doing it), but for whatever reason it is currently not, we often find ourselves saying "I can't do that, I just don't have the discipline". The reality is we need thehabitof doing it, with just enough discipline to build that habit.

 

However, the real secret it not just developing habits; success happens when we CHOOSE the RIGHT habits and focus our energy, using just enough discipline to establish it.

That's it.

As the habit becomes part of your life you will begin to look like the disciplined person, but you won't be one! What you will be is someone who has something regularly working for you because you regularly worked on it. You will be a person who used select discipline to build a powerful habit.

 

But what is a Habit?

Habits are routine behaviours done on a regular basis. They are recurrent and often unconscious patterns of behaviour and are acquired through frequent repetition. Many of these are unconscious as we don't even realise we are doing them.

 

Think about it, your life today is essentially the sum of your habits. What you repeatedly do ultimately forms the person you are, the things you believe, and the personality that you portray. 

But what if you want to improve? What if you want to form these new habits? How would you go about it?

Turns out, there's a helpful framework that can make it easier to create these new, life changing habits so that you can improve your health, your work, and your quality of life in general.

 

Every habit you have, good or bad, follows the same 3-step pattern.

  1. Trigger (the thing that initiates the behaviour)
  2. Behaviour (the action you take)
  3. Reward (the benefit you gain from doing the behaviour)

 

Here's an example of how it works; We need food to survive. We get hungry, signalling that we need food. We see some food that looks good and our brain says "energy - survival". We eat the food, it tastes good and our brains says "remember what you're eating and where you found it!" We then learn to repeat the same process for the future.

  • See food (Trigger)
  • Eat food (Behaviour)
  • Feel Good (Reward)
  • Repeat

 

Simple.

 

Here's where it gets interesting. After a while, our creative brain says "wait a minute! instead of just remembering where the food is, next time when you feel bad, why don't you eat something that makes you feel good!" We thank our brain for this wonderful idea. We try it and quickly learn that if we eat something yummy and sweet, when we are mad, sad, bored, lonely, or any other emotion, it helps us feel better.

 

It's the same process but with a different trigger! Instead of a hunger signal coming from our stomach, we get this emotional signal triggering that urge to eat. The habit occurs when the behaviour causes a craving. It's not only food that we can create these habits with, but all other areas of life too. From brushing our teeth to procrastination, the same cycle applies.

 

How to break the Habit?

 

To break bad habit, we must first recognise our 'triggers'. These are the events that happen in our life's day to day. Some are good and some are bad, but we are certain to experience them every day! These events are generally out of our control and happen 'to us'. Hence, we cannot change these triggers. They are just a part of life.

 

However, the good news is we can still take control! We can control ourselves and how we respond to these events empowering ourselves to take positive action. Once we become mindful of how we 'feel' and how we respond emotionally, we can then isolate the specific behavioural patterns and plan a strategy around the event. 

 

We don't like change though, and we tend to enjoy our comforts zones a little too much and far too often people become a prisoner to their emotional thoughts and never attempt to break free. Lucky for us there are multiple ways to satisfy our emotional needs giving us a chance to break habits that hold us back from breaking through. The easiest way to attempt to change is to trick our brain into thinking we are doing the same thing whilst satisfying the specific need with a new healthier habit. It requires some cunning thought and a bit of creativity.

 

Back to our food example. If we have an emotional trigger that requires something sweet to satisfy it, instead of going straight for the lollie jar or the biscuit tin, we first take a breath. We are now be mindful of the situation that has unfolded, acknowledged the event that has taken place and begin to understand our emotional response. We know that we are now craving something sweet to satisfy the need, but now have the mindset empowering us to make a better decision, choosing a sweet healthy alternative like a fresh piece of fruit over the lollies.

The last thing we need to do to change the habit for good is to create a new routine that we enjoy. You must enjoy the taste, feel, texture and the look of the new reward.

 

After persistence, over time you will enjoy the positive changes far more than the old bad habits. Your life will be much more fulfilling and give you the opportunity to live life on your terms and achieve your own health and fitness dreams.

 

Ryan Bartlett

Vision Personal Training Surrey Hills

*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.

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