We've all experienced it. The moment when that slow burn of the midnight oil finally flames out. When you're no longer excited to put in the work. You may have started a new job a while back, and it's now beginning to feel like a means of making a living rather than an exciting new adventure. You may have reached a standstill in your fitness journey where it's hard to see the visible progress. In short - the motivation is gone. Nothing in you wants to sit in the office all day or roll out of bed at 5 a.m. to pick up some heavy weights and put them back down again.
Enter discipline. This greatly coveted, highly illusive, oh so desired but never attained trait. I heard once that discipline is the highest form of self-love. It's incredible to think you can love yourself into getting everything you ever wanted. The catch is that it won't be easy, soft and gentle love. It's going to be tough and stern, "I'm hard on you because I love you" type of love. When we force ourselves to learn discipline and hold ourselves accountable, we're prioritizing ourselves. Valuing your future self and your long-term goals over short-term satisfaction. That's self-love. But it's all easier said than done because, of course, nothing good comes easy. If it were easy, everyone would do it, and it wouldn't be so elusive.
So how do we do it? How do we look out for our own best interests? Self-discipline is a skill; just like any other, you can develop it through repetition and practice. Start with these simple steps:
- Get Real with Yourself
Sit down with a blank sheet of paper, a pen, and some silence. Then, think about what you really want. Not what others want for you or what you want others to think of you - just those deep dreams and desires you've been harboring. Write them down. Next comes the leveling. Identify personal strengths and weaknesses, traits that will pose as obstacles, and traits that will prove advantageous to achieving these goals. Now, we've got the criteria to curate a foolproof plan.
- Devise a Plan
Again, you're going to need to write. Discipline is hard, but it becomes much easier when you're not forcing yourself to rely on spur-of-the-moment decisions. Plan ahead, prepare yourself, and it's going to be a lot less grueling. Say the goal is toned arms by tank top season. You're working a 9 to 5 and identified an afternoon/early evening crash as one of your weaknesses - schedule in a 6a.m. gym sesh 3 times a week. Same days every week to make a habit out of it. The key is to minimize the factors working against you to make the process much smoother.
- Document progress.
With big, long-term goals, it can be easy to fall off track. Easy to get lost in the journey. Documenting the baby bits of progress in whatever way tangible is essential to remain disciplined. It gives your brain a way to actualize the work you've been putting in and a reason to keep going.
Once you've mastered this self-discipline, watch your dreams and goals fall into place as you work a little harder every day to achieve them. When it gets tricky, just remind yourself that you're showing love for your past, present, and future self.