“I wish I was more disciplined,” she said while carefully breaking off a piece of her chocolate chip muffin and placing it in her mouth. “I wish I was more like my roommate, Desiree who runs 5K every morning before she goes to work.”
She, a young lady named Jill, had been explaining to me the difficulty she was having in bringing change into her life. She had identified several changes she wanted to make and was frustrated at her inability to do so.
I asked her if she had spoken with Desiree about the ease with which running seemed to come to her and Jill told me that Desiree had been confused by the question, as running was as natural to her as brushing her teeth.
In fact, Jill explained, Desiree had been a runner her entire life. From being a track star during her school days through to the present moment, running has been as comfortable, easy and natural a part of her life as can be. In fact, Desiree had explained to Jill that it would feel strange, awkward and uncomfortable for her not to run for a few days and that she could not remember the last time she had skipped running for as many as three consecutive days.
And Jill wants Desiree’s discipline.
Desiree’s running has nothing whatsoever to do with discipline. In fact, it would require a far greater display of discipline for her to choose not to run.
Please allow me to explain.
Over the past two years, on numerous occasions, we have talked about the fact that we only ever do one thing – we do what is important to us in the moment.
Not what will necessarily benefit us in the long term but what is important to us right now in this present moment.
In our past discussions we have frequently used chocolate cake (anything beginning with the word chocolate always gets my attention) to illustrate how, in the moment, we do what is important to us.
The example has always been around weight loss and we’ve talked about how, while in the midst of some form of weight loss program, we are presented with an opportunity to indulge in a slice of chocolate cake, we all too often choose the chocolate cake.
Why is this?
We do what we do for only one of two reasons – to gain pleasure or to avoid pain. So when we choose to indulge in that chocolate cake it is because we are doing so either in anticipation and expectation of the pleasure eating the cake will bring to us or, we do so because the pain of craving is too great to bear and eating the cake removes the craving.
We only do what is important in the moment and, in the moment we make that choice, it is more important, for one of those two reasons, to eat that cake than it is to stay within our weight loss plan.
Now let’s go back to Jill and discipline. Jill was of the opinion that her challenge was her lack of discipline and that she wished she could be more like Desiree.
So let’s understand what discipline really means. Discipline simply means doing what we know we need to do in order to produce a result we desire, when we don’t feel like doing it.
That’s all there is to discipline. If we felt like getting up and going for a run then doing so would require no discipline whatsoever. We would simply be doing something that brings us pleasure.
There are two types of pain we frequently experience when in pursuit of our goals. The first, as we have just discussed, is the Pain of Discipline. Either pain will produce a result.
The second pain is called the Pain of Regret and this is a delayed pain that we build into our future each time we choose not to endure the pain of discipline. When Jill does not join Desiree on her morning runs she feels she has (once again) let herself down and typically those feelings set the mood for her entire day. On those rare occasions when she does run with Desiree, as much, and as tough as the struggle of forcing herself out of bed might have been, the pain of doing so ends the moment they’re out the door and beginning their run.
And, of course, the feeling of triumph and accomplishment at the end of the run is indescribable.
And when we step on the scale the morning after eating the chocolate cake the Pain of Regret will still be there weighing us down even further.
The Pain of Discipline is fleeting. The Pain of Regret lasts a very long time.
Introducing change into our lives requires mental toughness and we’re either mentally tough or we’re mental fluff. It requires toughness and determination to “suck it up” for as long as it takes to achieve the results we want and once we have done so, the pain is gone forever.
At the end of the time required to endure pain and reach our goals we can either be where we want to be or we can still be where we don’t want to be. The time will have passed regardless.
That’s what discipline is and we all have it in abundance within us.
Sadly, many of us repeatedly choose the long-lasting Pain of Regret.
Till we read again
P.S. My company, Strategic Pathways, last week introduced our newest Personal Coaching experience called Boot Camp for Your Brain. Please click here and take a peek at our Ebrochure
– I had the privilege of doing my first ever radio interview a few weeks ago. The topic of the interview was my book, Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours. Here is a link to my interview.
I did a second radio interview recently. Here is the link.
One week ago I did my third radio interview.
I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas or suggestions once you have listened to the interviews. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your thoughts
– My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at www.lifesinksorsoars.com and let me know what you think.