For the last 14 days I have been working on my self-discipline and writing about it every day. I quit drinking 14 days ago. I don’t know if it is for good, or for now, but I wanted to take 30 days to test it out. Here is my entry for day 14:
I’ve started to notice my self-discipline improving in other areas of my life. I know there are other things that I need to work on, especially my ability to say no, but I know that doing too much will overwhelm me, or maybe not. Working on my self-discipline is obviously rubbing off on other areas of my life. I can feel myself getting stronger. Not perfect, but better. I accept where I am and I am working towards where I want to be. As much as I want everything to fall into place at once I am realistic in knowing that it can’t happen as fast as I want it to. It will take time. It will take effort. Just like training for a marathon or learning a new skill. Build muscle and stamina little by little, one run or skill at a time.
For many years of my life I wanted to be perfect with my habits. I would go through what I would call deprivation phases, or I would do diets, exercise programs, cleanses to “clean up my act”. As great as they sometime were at the time, eliminating everything at once not only made me miserable, it also was TOO MUCH willpower to use at once. Once I was “done” or I quit I would go back to my old ways WITH A VENGEANCE. I call that my indulgence phase. Food, alcohol, caffeine. Maybe not right away but eventually. It would be like running a marathon before you trained for it. Could you imagine how your body would feel? Do you think you would even make it through the race? If not physically then mentally?
The same will happen to your willpower if you do too much too soon. As badly as you want to change your life in all the areas of your life you will need to work on one thing at a time. As you change your habits one by one you will be building your willpower in a way that is sustainable and successful. Just like training for a marathon you will be able to not only complete the race but you will have a “good time” because you aren’t being overwhelmed by being overly disciplined. For me those cleanses usually ended up making me sick as I was under eating and overtraining in the gym. It’s all about training your habits one by one and leaning into the change you want to see in your life. Starting with THE BIG ONE.
THE HIERARCHY OF HABITS
We all have an idea of what we would like our lives to look like. Some are closer then others to achieving that. Imagine yourself there. My vision has been the same for a while:
- Eat whole foods
- Drink alcohol on occasion but never in large quantities
- Drink water
- Take vitamins
- Exercise regularily but not to excess
- Stretch and mobilize every day
- Floss and brush my teeth
- Call and visit my family regularly
- Spend time with my children
- Be more disciplined with my children (i.e. learn to say no)
- Take time for myself
- Work on my finances and my budget
- Meditate, read affirmations and do visualizations
The list goes on but you get the idea. Lots to do. What I’ve come to realize is that I will never be perfect in all my habits. When I am focusing on one thing the others tend to be left behind. For example, right now I am writing and working on building my business. It takes a lot of time and energy, and along with raising my boys I don’t have as much time to focus on food preparation. I am also not drinking. So I eat out a little more, which is not ideal. Also my house isn’t as clean as I would like it to be, not even close to it. When I was at home with my kids and not working, I would be prepping meals, cleaning and taking care of the kids 24/7 but I didn’t have to worry about making money at all. I would also have a glass of wine at the end of a long day. When you know what your goals are, you know what your priorities are. You can’t do it all. You need to learn to counterbalance the “other stuff” with the “BIG stuff”, which is whatever you are focused on right now.
So if your goal is to be the BEST YOU how do you go about it?
We all have one thing that we know we need to change. We all have that one thing that is nagging that you have wanted to change in the past but keep on falling short. Or you haven’t tried. Quitting smoking, quitting drinking (or cutting down), eating well, exercising more, being more spiritual. I’ve always known mine was alcohol related but every time I did a cleanse or tried to stop drinking I was also trying to eat well and exercise along with it. This time I focused on the one thing and let the others go. Guess what happened? The others naturally fell into place. With my increased self-discipline around alcohol I naturally started to have more discipline around my other habits. But the great thing was that it didn’t matter. If I wanted to eat cake or candy or chips I could. Everything feels doable because I am not restricting too much at once that I feel overwhelmed. Improvement not perfection.
The trick is to be ready for THE BIG ONE. As much as you know that quitting smoking or drinking or eating well and exercise will change your life you need to be ready and committed to that change. I promise you it will change your life for the better. I promise you that you will not regret doing it, in fact, you will have wished you did it sooner. But I can also tell you that it will not be easy. It will require you to be uncomfortable. There will be moments it will feel unbearable. You might want to quit. But you won’t. You cannot fail.
So what habit you choose is important. If you have a lot to pick from because you are far away from your goal, then pick the one that will make the biggest difference in your life. The one that will make everything easier. If you aren’t ready for that one, then pick something small and work your way there. It might be less uncomfortable. Walk instead of run if that is where you are. You will be running in no time, as long as you don’t run too fast or too far too soon. Pace yourself. We are in it for the long haul. The rest of your life.
It is important that right now you surrender to where you are and acknowledge how far you have to go. Change will have to happen and it will not be always be easy. But if you remind yourself of your goals and WHY you want to achieve them then the discomfort will be a reminder of that. You are working at being great rather then mediocre, and by knowing that, you can celebrate the discomfort rather then dread it. Discipline is bringing you closer to what you love, to who you want to be and the life you have always imagined.
Embrace the change. Celebrate the discomfort.