Discipline Ripples

A nice side effect of my daily blogging challenge is that it’s helping me become more disciplined in other areas of life. This in turn increases my capacity to get more done because I can trust that I’ll have abundant discipline to flow through more tasks and projects.

I expected that there would be some discipline ripples, but I’m pleased that they’re better than I anticipated.

Staying caffeine free feels easier than ever. I’m also easily avoiding other stimulants like any forms of chocolate, caffeinated tea, etc. It feels like the part of my brain that recognizes and wants to avoid addictive patterns has been strengthened.

Maintaining my early riser habit feels easier than ever, and I’m often getting up earlier than my usual 5am alarm. This morning I got up at 4:30, which is happening more often. I’ve noticed that I feel less inclined to linger in bed even if I could justify that it’s not time to get up yet. When my body feels awake, it wants to get up and move, not stay in bed longer than it needs to.

On average I’m running for about an hour each morning. This morning’s run was 70 minutes. That used to feel like a long run; now it feels like a normal everyday type of run. The minimum I run is 45 minutes since anything less feels like it’s too little.

With the increased running, I’m flowing through many more nonfiction audiobooks, finishing 2-3 per week, so that will add up to 100-150 audiobooks per year at this rate. I just finished League of Denial yesterday, and this morning I started Big Magic. I’ll finish Big Magic tomorrow and start another audiobook on Sunday.

Work projects are flowing very nicely. I’m doing a better job of staying organized and completing projects in an intelligent order. I’m not perfect at this, but I notice that instead of feeling driven to choose the work for each day based on intuition or emotional impulses, I’m more easily flowing into the most rational project to work on next. And when I sit down to work on it, the discipline is there to stick with it for hours.

I’ve already written more blog articles this year than I did in 2019, 2018, and 2017 combined. By the end of June, you’ll be able to add 2016 to that as well. So that will be like doing four years of blogging in six months.

The interesting thing about 365-day challenges is that initially they’re hard, but eventually they become easy. I’d say that happens somewhere around day 45 to 75. After 6-9 weeks into such a challenge, the resistance crumbles, and the training effect begins to take hold. By enduring that long and not missing a single day, you’ve grown stronger. And it’s easier to keep going because now you get to do the rest of the challenge with a stronger, more aligned, less resistant mind.

It’s hard to stretch ourselves to tackle discipline-building challenges, but note that it does get easier as your mind grows stronger.

The mind that whines about getting up early isn’t the same as the mind that’s already gotten up before dawn for many weeks in a row. The new mind thinks the old mind is a wimp for whining about such an easily maintainable and personally beneficial habit.

The mind that whines about giving up chocolate isn’t the same as the mind that’s free of that addiction and recognizes it as an unnecessary weakness.

The mind that would whine about running for an hour each day isn’t the same as the mind that’s been doing it for weeks, thinks it’s normal, and suspects that 75-minute daily runs would probably be no big deal either.

You’ve gotten used to your current level of self-discipline, but you could train yourself to go beyond that and create a new normal for yourself. Your new normal may yield much better results than your old normal. The transition may be difficult, but once you’ve locked in your new normal, it’s really no more difficult than your old normal. Raising your standards is hard. Keeping them raised is much easier.

When you train up your discipline and then apply it to your life, you don’t suffer every day because the rewards of discipline are greater than the temporary pleasures of an undisciplined life. Life without chocolate isn’t a sad life. It’s a more focused and mentally stable life since the body no longer has to deal with the ups and downs of the stimulant effect.

The sad life is that of the stimulant addict who’s in denial about their addiction. The sad life is a life without daily exercise and its many neurological benefits. The sad life is that of the person who has to suffer with the results of undisciplined habits taking their toll year after year.

Training up your discipline is hard – yes. But not training up your discipline is way, way, way harder.

Imagine what more you could experience and enjoy with more discipline – the ability to get yourself to take rational actions that create desirable results again and again. That’s worth some challenging training, so you can access those long-term benefits.

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Read Discipline Ripples by Steve Pavlina