I remember the last time I wished for more self-discipline. I was feeling overwhelmed with anxiety as I sat with baggy sweatpants and my hair in a messy bun scraping the bottom of the bowl of cinnamon Chex. Wishing that I could somehow find the secret to self-discipline. Allowing me to actually do the things I knew I should be.
On that day, I opened up a journey of uncovering the true definition of self-discipline that took years of looking beneath a mound of my insecurity and shame that seemed to keep me stuck wishing but never living. What I realized is self-discipline isn’t eluding you. It’s not something you have to chase down, but it’s a way of life.
One that has allowed me to enjoy many more bowls of Cinnamon Chex without the guilt and shame I used to feel. Inside this podcast, I share the secret of self-discipline and how to live that out. You’re going to like this one.
I’m no stranger to feeling guilty about my “unhealthy” food choices. Just like I’m no stranger to feeling shameful of my body, leading to the accentuation of the food guilt. The same food guilt I found myself suffering with as the bowl of Chex sat empty next to me.
As I sat there longing for more self-discipline to stop doing the things I knew weren’t helping me and somehow give the willpower to do the things I should be doing, it felt hopeless.
Hopeless in the fate that health felt like a lose-lose situation. One where I either had to give up my life, doing things I hated, or at least give up things I loved to live disciplined enough to achieve health. If I didn’t, I would have to live with the reality that the place I hated would be mine forever.
It’s a familiar story. One, I’m guessing I’m not alone in speaking over myself—a story promoting the way to health as painful, grueling, and void of anything pleasurable. Most of us willingly walk away from life to achieve a place we believe will allow us to live life. Leaving us frustrated at our lack of arrival and blaming our lack of self-discipline and crappy willpower for our poor choices.
But what I found months later as I poured myself a new bowl of Cinnamon Chex, only this time with a different perspective and absolute enjoyment, is self-discipline is not an act of self-hate but an act of self-love. And the only way to achieve self-discipline is to enjoy the process.
To find joy in the becoming.
The Secret to Self-Discipline is The Reward You Choose
There’s something wildly different when you stop looking at health as a chore, a burden one must carry to become happy and start to find happiness in the process of becoming healthy.
Of course, I’m not here to say that the process of healthifying your life will be easy. I’m no stranger to the resistance of slipping on my running shoes. But there is something different about your approach. Shifting that approach from hating the pain, leaving you avoiding it, to seeing through the pain, allowing you move through it.
But seeing through the pain only happens when you shift your perspective of the reward. Because it’s the reward that creates a desire to continue regardless of how much pain you feel. The problem is you’ve attached a destination to the reward. Making the reward a place you arrive, leading you on a chase to become.
- You’ve made the reward a number on the scale.
- The size sewn in the waistband of your jeans.
- The way people notice you for how you look.
- How many miles you can run.
You’ve made the reward a place. While there is nothing wrong with a place, a destination in many cases takes time. More time than you have the strength to move through without a reward to give you momentum. Leaving you good at starting but terrible at finishing.
Not because you’re not capable, but because the reward your looking for is unachievable, at least at the pace you need to regain momentum to continue.
The Secret To Self-Discipline is to enjoy What You Do
But there is a reward that works. One that you can achieve every day. That reward is a feeling, which is what you’re actually looking for in a destination. But unlike a destination, feelings can be felt immediately, without waiting. It’s something you can experience with a change in perspective and action, providing you with a daily reward. This triggers the reward center, which is the catalyst for energy, motivation, momentum, and self-discipline.
The bottom line, if you want to practice successful self-discipline, you have to stop chasing a reward and work to feel it. Giving you permission to stop doing the things you hate and step into the things you enjoy.
If it’s not something you desire or if it’s not something that feels achievable, you won’t stick with it, no matter how much self-discipline you have. But shifting the reward to something that gives you what you’re longing for, with little waiting, will be the catalyst to allow you to reach the goals you’ve set.
You can use the feeling to fuel you with energy and momentum to keep going. So when you slip on those running shoes or make the meal plan, you’re not so fixated on the outcome you’re hoping those will bring but how they leave you feeling.
For me, I don’t slip on my running shoes to lose weight. I do it to get rid of my anxious thoughts and to feel light and energized. Just like I don’t meal plan to control my diet to reach my desired weight. I do it because it brings ease and less stress to my life.
If we continue to look at self-discipline as an act of self-hate, we’ll never do it because zero things in life are sustainable if you do not enjoy them. It’s time to start to see self-discipline as a means of feeling the things we’ve been longing for a destination to bring. To realize you don’t have to wait, but you can live them right now. And living them produces the motivation to continue them, which is the answer to reaching your goals and living with self-discipline.
Success does not bring you happiness, but happiness breeds success.
The Secret to Self-Discipline is To Know Yourself
The goal and secret of self-discipline is to know yourself. To know what you love, what fills you up, what makes you feel good—putting to rest the need to force yourself into something and instead be honest and authentic with yourself—doing more things you love.
The goal is not to hate yourself healthy but to love yourself there. To enjoy the process.
It’s time to put to rest the old definition of self-discipline.
A definition that believes self-denial is the only way. Remember, self-denial one hundred percent of the time leads to self-indulgence, emotional dysfunction, and self-destruction.
Instead, the secret of self-discipline is self-knowledge and enjoyment. Doing things you enjoy always increases momentum, increasing energy and desire, increasing self-discipline.
So check yourself. What things are you forcing yourself into that you hate? Stop doing them and then uncover a new way to go about it. A method that you enjoy. Putting an end to the belief that there is only one way to get healthy and open up to realize there are millions of ways to live healthily, but the only way is the way you enjoy.
Here’s the truth, you can eat a bowl of Chex and still live healthy. I can assure you that eating for enjoyment equates to fewer cravings, less consumption, more energy, and better balance. Eating from shame only induces more hunger and cravings, leading you to self-destruct, creating more problems than you started with.
You have to trust the process, which means you have to trust yourself.
8 Tips To Help You Have More Self-Discipline
01: Know Yourself. Know what you like and don’t like—understanding that your actions always produce a feeling.
02: Stop wasting energy on things you hate. They’re only keeping you stuck living the life your spending your life trying to get out of. You’re on the hamster wheel that keeps you stuck.
03: Understand your values. Your values are your passions. What fuels you. Doing more of these brings a life with more ease and less pain, not because the pain doesn’t exist, but you view it in a new way.
04: Change your perspective from a destination to a feeling. What you want more than anything is to feel a different way. Learn how to control that by daily action.
05: Take action and pay attention to the feeling. Once you start to experience the feeling, you’ll want more of it. This is how desire is created. Don’t dismiss how you feel but use it to create self-discipline.
06: Learn how to keep going. The truth is, you’ll fail. But don’t look at failure as backward motion but forward growth. If you’re moving, you’re growing. Use this to keep going.
07: Adopt a new identity. You are what you believe you are. If you believe you have self-discipline, you’ll act out of it. Pay attention to what you tell yourself and who you identify as, creating a story based on truth.
08: When you resist it, question it. If you find yourself stuck in old patterns or staying stagnant, ask yourself why. Be willing to change the way you’re doing things or what you’re doing if you find yourself resisting it.
You are capable of so much more than you give yourself credit. You are capable of so much more than you have energy for at this moment. It’s not you that is the problem. It’s your belief about what it takes to get healthy that is the only thing standing in your way. Change your view, change your health.