I am sure you have been there. You feel like you’ve gained a few pounds (hello, Quarantine 15) and want to fit back into your skinny jeans. You research exercise regimens, yoga classes, and HIIT videos and vow to do work-outs three times a week. The first week, everything goes great! You are feeling amazing, have more energy and are sleeping better. Week two is little harder and maybe, you miss one of the work-outs. In week three, you have some last minute family activities and you don’t have the time to work-out. Then, week 4, you try to get back on track, but you are so discouraged that you haven’t been keeping to your plan, and you eat a pint of ice cream.
Can you relate or am I alone in this scenario?
Lately, I feel like I have fallen into this cycle. I have great intentions, and then something gets in the way and I am not able to follow through with my brilliant, amazing plan. Why is it so hard to make a plan and then stick to it?
This isn’t the first (and probably won’t be the last) time that I have made a plan and not been able to stick to it. What is it that makes our lives so cyclical? We go down one path for a while, then maybe without realizing it, we end up in the same old pattern. We get caught in the same routines in life, good and bad.
I am not just talking about with exercise. These cycles occur in most areas of our lives: diet, emotional health, relationships, hobbies, prayer life, finances, and even cleaning out our closets.
I have heard that it takes 21 days to make something a habit. If you eat well for 21 days, chances are you can continue eating well, as you have made a new habit. That is great, except when you see that chocolate cake, those French fries, or whatever else it is that you crave…and then return to the unhealthy cycle you had before the 21 days of healthy eating.
I am not trying to be negative, but instead getting to the heart of the issue. To break this cycle and truly make a choice that changes your life you need The D Word…Discipline. Why is Discipline so hard?
The Apostle Paul puts it like this, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate….And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.” Romans 7: 15, 18-19
Paul talks about sin being the root of why we are unable to be disciplined in our lives. We make choices everyday, whether we are consciously aware or not, that have an impact with the recurring cycles in our lives. Sin is when we let our fleshly desires, our emotions in the moment, or the bad habit creep back in.
The devil made me do it! Sure, it is easy to blame the devil. It is easy to blame other people, our spouses and our children for making us get off track. But if we are being honest, we make these daily choices. We must learn to take the responsibility of these choices and accept the consequences that come with them.
You might be asking yourself, “Ok, but how do I become more disciplined?” So glad you asked.
Here are a 5 things you and I can do to be more disciplined in our lives.
DON’T set unattainable goals and expectations – like I have to lose 50 pounds in the next 2 months. While you may be able to lost some weight quickly with your new exercise regimen, the likelihood of meeting that goal is not realistic and will cause crazy pressure, guilt, and shame that will send you to the candy aisle. Instead, DO give yourself a goal that you can meet and that will make you excited about the progress you are making. 15 pounds seems may more reasonable that 50.
DON’T make a decision without thinking about your schedule. If I’d like to learn Italian over the next 3 months, I might sign up for a class or take lessons online. I might even pay top dollar for an incredible immersion program in Rome! But, if I just jump in without thinking about how I am going to balance work and family life, I am setting myself up for disappointment. Instead, DO think realistically about what you can schedule into your day and actually do. I update my digital calendar everyday so I always know exactly what I am doing when. If you don’t keep a calendar, I suggest you start! You could go OG and purchase a paper diary or use the calendar app on your phone to plan your schedule.
DON’T start a new thing by yourself. DO share your plan with your spouse, best friend, and/or family member who will be supportive of your pursuit and also help hold you accountable. Hopefully, if you are trying to learn a new skill like writing a blog or taking amazing photos to post on your website to eventually sell, you have people in your corner who will ask you about how it’s going and be there to root you on!
DON’T beat yourself up when it gets hard. Let’s face it. Breaking a pattern in your life and creating a new habit is hard and you will take two steps forward and one step back…often! DO give yourself grace. If you need to start over 10 times, then great. The 10th time will be worth it!
DON’T think you know everything. If you are in a cycle of overspending and you tell yourself that the way to fix it is to create a budget, great! If you’ve never created a budget and been successful in sticking to it, perhaps you need to talk with someone who has been successful in this area. DO ask for help. Seek out experts in whatever area you are wanting to be more disciplined in. Watch some YouTube videos, listen to some podcasts, and heed the advice of people who have been there, done that.
The art of discipline is something that has been written about and discussed for centuries. I don’t even pretend to know everything there is to know, but I do stick by the tips I have shared in this blog. Here is another blog that gives a different perspective.
One thing I know for sure, when I pray and ask God for guidance for my day, I tend to be more focused and disciplined in the things I feel like He wants me to do. I am able to stay on the path that keeps my mind and soul at ease, without letting my sinful nature disrupt the plan. The Holy Spirit is alive in each of us and can help free us from the same routines and ruts we get stuck in.
Today, I challenge you to LEAP into something new, to break free of whatever cycle you are in, and cultivate a healthy discipline that will help you to get to where you are going.