Self Discipline - A Field Report

I’m grateful to have lot of passion and optimism in my approach to life. However, I’ve always been envious of those who demonstrate a great deal of self-discipline. Since I don’t believe passion and discipline are mutually exclusive, I set out this summer to acquire this skill I didn’t seem to have.

Here is a recap of the things I’m proud to have accomplished this summer, each requiring, and demonstrating, an increasing amount of discipline:

I quit smoking, cold-turkey. Admittedly, I have done this a few times, but I always allowed myself the luxury of social smoking, which I believe carries some benefit. I finally decided to abstain from smoking, in all forms and situations. The obvious upside is that my long term health prospects are looking much better, but more immediately, I’ve found my mood to be far more stable, and calm.

I no longer drink caffeine… at all. No diet soda, no coffee, no tea, limited chocolate (why ever give chocolate up completely?) This keeps me better hydrated, has made sleeping easier, and waking up a breeze. Now, my daily energy levels are not only predictable, they are surprisingly high. I enthusiastically recommend trying a no-caffeine diet for a few months, it has had a fantastic impact.

I avoid bread, and other hollow carbs. This was a bit harder, and takes away some favorite foods (subs, pizza, etc). Now, I’m slightly more kitchen-savvy, having learned a few healthy-meal recipes (Not bad for a bachelor who *never* cooks). Further on the upside to eating well, I’ve been losing the right kind of weight, and my protein intake has risen, which is necessary because…

I’ve been waking up every morning to weight-lift. Six mornings a week, I hit the gym for just over an hour of stretching, light cardio, and weight-training (it helps when one of your roommates is a gym-fiend). My posture has noticeably improved, as well as the rest of my outline. I’ve even brought my training into the office; three times a day, Kevin & I do elevated push-ups until failure. I’m excited to say I can do one-handed and clapping pushups for the first time.

I didn’t attempt to do this all at once.. I partitioned my efforts into ‘arcs’, and would only work on one routine until it became effortless, then enter the next 'arc’, stacking on a new, positive behavior.

There’s plenty more I intend to accomplish, not just in terms of health, but in all areas of my life that can benefit from sustained self-discipline. Which brings me to the important point of all this: discipline is something you can learn, at any time. So if you’ve struggled with a lack of it, like I have, start small and snow-ball your accomplishments. You’ll end up just fine!