Achieving Wellbeing Through Self-Discipline
What is the difference between motivation and discipline? Motivation is a reason for behaving a particular way. For example, “I want to fit into my pre-baby jeans”. Discipline is the practice of training oneself or a group of people to obey rules or a code of behaviour. For example, “I run three times a week to help ease stress and anxiety”.
Discipline keeps you going when your motivation evaporates, which it ultimately will when it's pouring with rain in the middle of the winter, and the only thing in the cupboard is a can of condensed milk. So, how do we convert motivation into long term healthy habits?
Prioritise what’s Important
Identify what your motivation really means. To be a healthier weight? To eat a more balanced diet? Be honest and realistic with what you want. There’s so much going on in life; it can be tough to make room for yourself, even for your health, as we all have a bad habit of putting ourselves last. So, recognise what will put you on the path to being a happier and healthier person and let’s create a plan on how to get there.
Take Baby Steps
Setting small goals will be easier to achieve. For example, “I’m going to drink water today”, or “I’m going to have an apple for a snack”. Your brain is actually configured to resist abrupt changes, so if you begin with a titanic “starting tomorrow, I’m on a liquid-only diet” effort, you’ll eventually burn out and revert. The trick is to make a small change and let your brain accept it as the new normal. As we continue to practice this new activity, we devote less and less conscious brain activity to it, and eventually it becomes automatic. Once you’ve done this successfully, give yourself a slightly bigger task. Rinse, wash, and repeat.
Bye-bye jar of Nutella. It’s been swell social media. Self-control is often easiest when abiding by the old saying, ‘out of sight, out of mind’. Removing temptations and distractions from your environment is a crucial step in creating long term behavioural changes. If you want to improve your diet, toss the junk food. If you want to get more sleep, leave your phone in another room and invest in an alarm clock. The Self Control app is a great way to block distractions- Instagram, YouTube, even email for a period of time. Set yourself up for success by ditching the bad influences.
Prepare for Mistakes
If you are one of those all-or-nothing people, then pay attention. Achieving optimum health and wellbeing is not easy. It’s a long, bumpy road paved with sweat and tears.
Jono Steedman, a Nutritionist, explains why perfection is overrated. “That week of ‘perfect’ prepped and planned meals probably means you skip out on lunch with a friend, or dinner with your kids, or that ice cream with your significant other and guess what. You’ve just failed your social health. If you truly want to improve your health and fitness, you need to come to terms with the fact that being 80% on track most of the time is better than 100% on track some of the time”. The key is to keep moving forward. When you have a setback, acknowledge what caused it and move on. Forgive yourself, and get back in the saddle because the longer you stop, the harder it is to keep going in the right direction.
Positive feedback is a reward in itself, so share your accomplishments with friends and family. You also can reward yourself with purchases related to your goal, like that Nike sports jacket you’ve had your eye on or a new cookbook.
It is important to identify what drives us (motivation) and then use that to build healthy habits (discipline). We generally think of discipline as a bad thing but you can change that mind set by creating simple and achievable ways to improve your health and happiness. And lastly, its normal to slip up along the way, the key is to keep going, to keep trying. Trust us, your future self will thank you for it.
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