Practice today for a better tomorrow

The other day while hosting a nutrition seminar or what we like to call power chats, one of our members Jessi asked a phenomenal question. The question went something like this, “ How do I work on becoming more disciplined without someone telling me to “just” be more disciplined.” I absolutely loved her question, partially because I’ve spent some time reading and researching on self-discipline but more so because I’d heard those same words from people before. “Just be more disciplined”.

When I got to thinking about it I couldn’t help but realize that telling someone to “just be more disciplined” is like a strength coach telling someone to “just be stronger”. If you heard a strength coach tell someone that, you would think he was crazy because we all know that it takes time, effort, repetition, and hard work to get proficient at strength training. So why should something like self-discipline be any different?

What follows are a few methods that can help someone build better self-discipline.

First, let’s define self-discipline. For the purpose of this article, I am going to define self-discipline as, ”The ability for someone to resist doing something that gives immediate gratification in pursuit of achieving a future more important goal.”

  1. Define a goal and why it is important to you.
    Being disciplined simply for the sake of being disciplined can be near impossible for most. Notice the last piece of the definition of self-discipline reads, “In pursuit of achieving a future more important goal”. Therefore to work on self-discipline, you need to have a defined goal you are working towards. When things get tough knowing “why” you are doing something can give you the strength to push forward.
  2. Set a Standard
    Set a bare minimum standard or set of rules that you will follow no matter what. If you are going to reach for big goals you have to be able to do the right things consistently first. Having your minimum standard set allows you to not have to worry about making those certain decisions so you can focus on overcoming the difficult or tempting decisions. If someone’s goal is to dial in their food quality and track their macros to a tee then setting a bare minimum of not drinking soda or eating fast food could be a good place to start.
  3. Gain Momentum
    There is a famous commencement speech in which Navy SEAL Admiral William McRaven says, “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.” The beautiful strategy behind this is that if you can start your day with a simple act of discipline (making your bed, eating a healthy breakfast, meditating, etc) you can then build on that momentum and continue to make good decisions throughout the day.
  4. Seek out Challenges
    There is tremendous value in intentionally challenging ourselves in order to build our will and determination. Purposely showing up for a workout that you know will challenge you or intentionally taking the hard route can go a long way in building up your self-discipline.
  5. Practice
    The only way to get good at anything is to practice, keep practicing, and then practice some more. You will fail and things will not go perfectly but the practice comes in continuing to keep working despite failure. So I am not going to ask you to “just” be more disciplined but I will ask you to “just” start practicing.