“Live your life while you have it. Life is a splendid gift. There is nothing small in it. For the greatest things grow by God’s law out of the smallest. But to live your life you must discipline it. You must not fritter it away.” – Florence Nightingale
My friend Georgia and I met recently for lunch and what we call a “mall crawl.” We walked around and around an indoor mall on a cold winter day for exercise and friendship. I mentioned that I was having trouble coming up with a topic for my next blog post, and Georgia suggested Discipline. I was reluctant at first because I’m not very good at discipline. But I’m willing to share my struggles.
I’ve written about various aspects of discipline before. But this topic seems important enough to have the links to these posts in one spot. For discipline, we need to:
- Reflect on our goals. See Retreating Before Moving Forward. It is better to think about our priorities now, rather than when we are on our death bed. Certainly, we need to think about our spirituality and what we believe. We need to take care of our health before it is too late. And which of our personal relationships might need improving?
- Take baby steps. If you can only walk a block, do that. Next time, walk a little farther. See Take a Step Forward.
- Overcome inertia. See Overcoming Inertia.
- Coach yourself, maybe by journaling. See Coaching Ourselves in Our Journals.
- Find Support. See Finding Support.
- Have someone hold you accountable. See Holding Each Other Accountable.
- Consider getting professional help. See Getting Past a Funk.
- Reward yourself. See Living With Integrity.
These ideas provide a plan of sorts for being disciplined about our goals. But perhaps we haven’t discussed the most important piece, articulating why we want to accomplish them. That can help us achieve them.
I’ve been going to weight management meetings for several years, which has helped me maintain my weight. My weight goes up one week, down the next. Unfortunately, I still want to lose about eight pounds, not just maintain. At a recent meeting, we talked about the need to revisit why we want to lose weight. I realized my reasons weren’t strong enough. One reason was for better health. Well, even my doctor said I’m close enough! Another reason was to be active as I age so I can do things like travel. Again, I’m fine weightwise for that. I still need to develop my arm strength, but that’s a different goal.
No, my current reasons are so I can quit paying the monthly fee and so I can fit in the too-small jeans in my closet. After I nailed this down, I lost three pounds in one week and feel motivated to continue.
Once we’ve decided on our goals, we need to keep them visible. List your goal with your reasons or create a vision board with pictures of your goals. Post your goals or vision board where you will see it. One year I created a vision board of places I wanted to go, mostly in Europe. At the time, my husband preferred to travel inside the United States, but our first trip came about almost effortlessly. Our daughter had a college semester in Spain, so we visited her and continued on to France. That made it easier for us to go to Italy three years later. I’m not saying a vision board is magic, but keeping our goals visible can help us reach them.
After thinking about discipline, I realize I do succeed in some areas. I’ve been writing this blog for 5 ½ years and I’ve been serving as a church librarian for 5 years. Neither of these has a financial reward. I enjoy doing both and think they are worthwhile, which helps me be disciplined.
In what areas do you struggle with discipline? And in what areas do you succeed?
Do any of the above steps resonate with you? Please share your own ideas about discipline.