I have the above saying by Julie Andrews posted in my office. Discipline is something I struggle with, and I attribute these struggles to being creative in nature and often spread too thin. “Creativity” and “discipline” aren’t oxymorons by any means, but creativity does require some white space to let your mind ramble. And when I’m spread too thin, I often give up what I’m scheduled to do for what is most urgent. The problem with both these approaches is that without discipline, it feels like I’m trying to reach my goals the hard way.
Identifying your priority intentions
I was commiserating with my friend Chris this morning (she is in the final throes of getting her Ph.D.), and she added this perspective: “My daughter, [who is now a young doctor] recently commented that our family often takes the path of most resistance.” I can certainly identify with that.
When I’m able to get over my resistance to discipline, achieving my intentions gets easier. So this summer I’m undertaking an experiment. I’m going to routinize my priority intentions. My top intentions are to finish a book I’m working on, improve the technology that supports my consulting business, and lose my winter weight (at least 10 pounds).
According to a psychology research site called PsyBlog, it takes over two months to create an enduring habit. And of course, the harder the challenge, the harder it is to stick with the new habit (think doing 50 pushups each day versus drinking eight glasses of water per day).
A recent program on MPR radio touted rewards as a way to reinforce the behaviors we desire. One of the guests on the MPR show mentioned Joe’s Goals, a free app that helped him lose 20 pounds. The app reinforces positive behaviors by tracking progress and allowing the user to publish their successes via social media.
Starting a summer routine
Personally, I’m going to start small with the “routinizing” of my intentions. I plan to exercise at least five times a week, and I’ve set up weekly walks with friends and golf outings to make this easier to accomplish. I’m working on my book three times a week early in the morning before my phone starts to ring and distracts me, and I’m devoting an hour or two each Friday to improving my business technology. I also purchased consulting support from the Apple store in Uptown Minneapolis to help keep me on track.
At the end of the summer, I’ll let you know how routinizing has worked, and whether or not Julie Andrews is right about discipline “setting me free.”
I’d like to know your thoughts about discipline and celebrating your accomplishments.