“Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most.”
I’ll tell you a secret! I have couch days! I have lazy days! I have unmotivated- no one can make me do anything kinda days! Sometimes I push through these feelings, other times I embrace how I feel and I accept today is not my day. The ability to control our motivation, I believe is on a spectrum, and choosing when to push through and when to give in, is personal to each of us- but it can also be guided by self-discipline and self-honesty.
‘It’s okay to have ‘down’ days or ‘bad times’… just don’t unpack and empty your suitcases! stay for a short period of time, reset and move on.’ The is a stigma around being perceived as weak if we give into our negative thoughts and feelings. Ignoring them can actually add to our stress and heighten our thoughts- there is a timeline to work through things in your mind.
- Identify what has caused the negativity.
- Accept how it has made you feel.
- Be kind to yourself whilst you work through your thoughts.
- Action plan how to resolve the situation.
More often than not we compare ourselves to others and how we think we should react or feel, or how we think others expect us to react. Navigating through emotions is extremely difficult, and I like to compartmentalise my thought processes- otherwise I find it overwhelming- I create bitesize pieces to digest one step at a time. And I do seek advice from trusted friends and family- getting other opinions are important but at the end of day you are making the decision- so you have to feel happy and in control of your decision. How you feel is also okay- no one can control their feelings- so accept that this isn’t how you expected to feel but you do- and that’s okay.
Be kind to yourself- don’t rush choices or decisions- take the time you need to work out what is best for you- I am a huge fan of sleeping on it. When we sleep our subconscious takes over and essentially digests our previous days information- it makes sense of all that we have seen, heard and experienced. I find that usually after sleeping I am less emotional, more in control and clearer in what matters most to me. So I urge you next time to step back, take the time you need, and sleep on it.
Action plan and being disciplined.
In the moment it’s easy to choose what you want to do- it’s the quickiest route. The harder route is having the patience to wait and stay focused on the bigger end goal that you want most! Learning the art of discipline- an old psychology study- the Stanford experiment- involved learning the point at which children grasp the concept of delayed gratification - they placed a single marsh mellow on the plate, and told the child they could eat it or they could wait 15 minutes and receive a second marsh mellow and then eat both. The research found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes, educational attainment, and healthier body mass index scores (BMI).
Becoming disciplined can be learnt, it’s tough and you have to have clear goals and end vision. Short fixes often make us feel better instantly but in order to grow, and evolve ourselves we need the long-term fixes as ultimately, they stand the test of time and increase our happiness and sense of achievement.
Visualisation is a commonly used psychological tool amongst athletes- we effectively have already done the race in our minds- when we actually come to the race itself we have already raced it. We have accounted for challenges, and worked through them in our minds, and most importantly we’ve visualised crossing the line and succeeding. Next time you have a choice- I ask you to visualise both options in front of you- and feel which option gives you the most gratification.
12 weeks before my race in Tokyo I started visualisation for 10 minutes before sleeping. I’d lie in bed, in total darkness, and I’d place myself on the start line. The heat from the humidity, the sun blazing down, the butterflies in my stomach, the noise from the commotion, the feel of the blue carpet under my toes- I can picture each and every angle of the race. I felt what it would be like, and more importantly I visualised the satisfaction I may feel if I won the Gold- it fuelled my drive each and every day.
Can you place yourself in the moment you achieve your end goal? The feeling or satisfaction, the smile on your face from pride, the gratification of your effort and patience, you did it, you achieved it, and it wasn’t easy but you did it. Not everyone can be disciplined and stick to a vision- because if it was easy then everyone would do it. And the level of discipline required only gets tougher as your goals getting bigger- but you also grow with your success.