I was asked a question relating to one of my postings from last week and it got me thinking about how we are training our brain.
As I’m sure you recall, we talked about how we allow our concerns about upcoming events like a job interview or an important presentation to influence our performance because the time we spend worrying and playing worst case scenarios over and over in our minds, is simply time spent rehearsing for opening night.
The question was why do our wants and desires change so easily from one end of the continuum to the other?
In other words, why do we feel so excited about joining a gym and then feel so motivated about going for our first workout, a little less inspired about going for a second, dragging ourselves to our third and, well, there is no fourth?
Or, why do we wake up on day one of our new eating regimen determined and committed to a new lifestyle and by day three that determination has been replaced by negotiation inside our heads resulting in a firm and irrevocable commitment to go back to our old ways for the balance of the week because, starting first thing Monday morning, we will absolutely, without doubt and with complete focus, begin this new program and really stick with it.
We Are Training Our Brain
The answer, much like last week’s discussion, is training. After years of repeated similar practice, we have begun training our brain to the patterns of behavior that involve quitting before we reach our goal. If we are to be honest, have taught ourselves to expect these types of results. Deep down, we feel as though we will not be successful from the outset.
Just like actors in a play, we have rehearsed these parts so often that we have become fine-tuned machines ready to deliver encore performances upon request.
And the more often we start over and then revert to familiar patterns, the more skilled and adept we become at doing so.
So, what’s the solution? Your brain probably already knows this too.
In one word: discipline.
Discipline means doing what we know we must do when we don’t feel like doing it. Discipline also means not doing what we know we mustn’t do when we really feel like telling.
I know of no easy way. If the new plan calls for getting up at 4:30 AM then discipline means both feet on the floor ready to move at 4:29 AM.
If the plan is to walk 15,000 steps today, then discipline means we walk 15,000 steps even if that requires us to walk in circles around our living-room at midnight.
Discipline is Success
Discipline means no excuses, no more self-delusion, and no more building disappointment into our dreams.
It means training our brain for a new result: success. Discipline begins by rewriting the script. Remember, before an actor first sets foot on the rehearsal stage, they study the script and rehearse their lines.
For us, this means rewriting the story we have been telling ourselves, rehearsing and perfecting year after year.
There comes a time when we must just suck it up, tough it out and finish what we start.
We must endure the pain of effort now, so that we don’t live with the pain of regret.
I wish there was an easier way.
Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.