The Power of Discipline

We rely on willpower to overcome problematic habits. Reliance on will is likely why you fail. Willpower: when you take part in unhealthy behaviour and psychologically suffer for it, you say, ‘I’m not going to do that again tomorrow’. Tomorrow comes, you do it again, and you start the process over.

Discipline: I know where I am weak. Therefore, I can remove obstacles and plan to give myself the best chance of succeeding in this area. I’ll prepare to solve this problem, remind myself of my proposed solution in the moment. Whether it goes well or not, I’ll reflect on my efforts (or lack thereof) with constructive curiosity instead of self-loathing.

Example: I’m going to start working out at 6 AM before I leave the house. You don’t want to get out of bed when the morning comes, and you hit the snooze button. At the day’s end, you are disappointed because you didn’t live up to your commitment. You say to yourself, ‘tomorrow, I’m definitely working out in the morning.’ You don’t change anything. Tomorrow comes, you miss your workout again, and you reinforce the cycle. That’s willpower.

Discipline example: I need to work out in the morning, but I’m struggling to follow through on my commitments. What can I do to set myself up for success? I need to go to bed 30 minutes earlier tonight, so I’m not so groggy in the morning. I need to get my workout clothes ready and lay them outside the bathroom door. I have to have my breakfast prepared and in the fridge so I’m not rushing through my workout and out of the house or eating something in the drive-thru on the way to work.

See the difference? Willpower is a myth. It’s a lazy and ineffective change strategy. Discipline works, but it requires effort and consistency.

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