Accomplishing anything that takes commitment over time takes discipline. That is the ability to forgo short term pleasure for working longer term objectives. This work will often be difficult, frustrating, and occasionally dangerous.
None of us would ever graduate from school, build a career, or achieve success in a sport if we did not buckle down and do the work necessary to complete a given task.
Even those of us who have accomplished many things find that being disciplined is often unpleasant.
In the real world accomplishing difficult things will never get any easier. There is no point in life where mastering something complex and demanding suddenly becomes magically simple.
IMHO there are some useful ways of thinking about how discipline operates in our lives that make it easier to persevere and accomplish difficult tasks. Getting these things done requires suppressing the impulse to quit or be diverted. One must exercise self-restraint to keep on the job or follow the program when everything around us is urging us to quit or abandon the quest.
This applies whether you are working on becoming a skilled musician, dieting, mastering a new software system, writing an article, perfecting the Olympic clean and jerk, or assembling a giant kitchen cupboard from an IKEA kit.
In each case, you must keep working diligently even though the immediate task seems frustrating and maddeningly difficult.
Idea: We have only so many discipline units available each day
Master business and personal consultant Kevin Hogan is the originator of this idea. I have found it to be extremely useful when working on difficult tasks.
The basic idea is that each day all of us begin with only so many discipline units to spend on dealing with difficult situations. Each day we face a set of challenges that we have decided to work on such as writing a book, doing some complex data analysis for work, dieting to get ripped, learning to play a new and very demanding piece of music, doing a peaking routine for a powerlifting meet, etc. These are the things we have chosen to do.
However, life can get in the way of our ability to effectively work on our chosen tasks.
On a typical day it is easy to stay on the diet in the morning because we have lots of discipline units available. Saying no to the Krispy Cream donuts at the morning meeting is easystill plenty of discipline units to spend.
Then comes an hour meeting with star employee George Whiner. He burns up an hour of your time complaining that he has been unable to do the project you assigned him because his dog has a sore paw. This lament morphs into a mournful dirge about the tragedy of the New York Jets season.
It takes a lot of your discipline units to keep from stuffing him in the dumpster.
Drive home at rush hourwhat fun. Keeping your personal lid on requires using almost all the rest of your daily discipline units.
You miss your workout because events of the day totally preempted your schedule. Like all of us who regard workout time as sacred, you do not like this. All remaining discipline units are burnedand none left for the evening.
With no discipline units remaining, you arrive home and are confronted with a magnificent dinner accompanied by a superb wine. Guess who takes a second helpingand gleefully eats a chocolate torte after dinner.
The example may be whimsical, but the point is that the more circumstances you encounter during the day that require significant self-restraint, the more difficult self-restraint becomes later in the day.
How can this knowledge help you?
If you know you are going to face demands on your discipline during the later part of the day, be aware that challenges arising late in the day are much more likely to cause you to abandon your resolve. The most difficult time to stay on the path you have chosen is later in the day. Be prepared and you can win even when you are the most vulnerable.
Bonus Link: Tom Venuto article on Metabolic Adaptation to Weight Loss and How to Fix it
This is one of the best articles I have ever encountered on the subject of weigh loss-fat loss for those of us who are senior athletes. Well researched and carefully written.