What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
It’s almost the end of January and it’s time to get back to being disciplined. If you are like me, the word “disciplined” immediately conjures up resistance. A feeling of dread and being uncomfortable emerges. Focusing on where we want to be, includes accepting that we will need to give up certain comforts to gain the rewards.
The last two years have been pretty stagnant for most of us due to the Covid pandemic but the world is opening up and opportunities are beginning to filter through again. Now is the time to value yourself and promise to change your life for the better. Make the most of your life , every day that passes is another day that could have been filled with adventure and challenge. Make failure your friend, see it as a rite of passage and congratulate yourself for living rather than avoiding (most people avoid).
My weaknesses are late mornings, procrastinating and worrying ahead of time about things that will go wrong. When I focus on the negatives, my motivation increases drastically. Since the beginning of the year, I have focused on what is needed to adopt healthier habits and the reasons why you need to get going this year are detailed below.
Feel good about yourself
Do you focus on loss rather than gains? When you focus on what you will need to give up (the short-term stuff), your brain tells you that it prefers to feel safe and comfortable and fights your desire to be disciplined. it’s incredibly hard to get going and takes willpower. You can help yourself by focusing and visualising achieving your goals.
Imagine what you will feel like, how you will behave, and how it will improve your life when you achieve your goal. You might want to lose weight, apply for a new job, get out the house more or make amends with someone you have fallen out with, Whatever your goal, you will initially feel resistance. The key is to promise yourself you will push through this and keep reinforcing how you will feel when you get there. It’s okay to have bad days where you do less but as long as you keep pushing in the right direction – you’re doing well. Focus on the longterm gains and not the temporary losses.
A sense of achievement
I feel uneasy when I look back on the past year and wonder what I have actually done. Have I just been existing or have I achieved anything? Achievements don’t necessarily have to be material, they can also be related to self-improvement – increasing self-care and taking time out to be more mindful and appreciative. Identify what’s important to you as a starting point and then brainstorm ways to get there. If you want to get fitter, try going for walks three to four times a week.
Clarity and a clear sense of purpose
You will achieve your goals (see SMART goals) more easily if you make the specific, time-bound, realistic and measurable. How will you know that you have achieved your goal? Instead of telling yourself you want to lose weight, write down how much you want to lose and by what date in the future. It’s easier to get started when you have a clear purpose.
Create a visualisation board showing how life will be, what you will do and how you will behave. What will the advantages be of getting started? Consider your life in 6 months if you start working towards your goals compared to how you will feel if you carry on as your are doing today.
It’s a no-brainer. Set up a programme and start. You can take small steps – be realistic but keep going in the right direction and show yourself compassion if you aren’t able to achieve your daily goals. It happens.
Your mental health will improve
When you live a life of purpose and you work towards being your best self (at your own pace – it’s not a competition) your mental health gets a boost. Too much time sitting around and overthinking is a recipe for anxiety and/or depression. Keeping busy, connecting with others and feeling your life has meaning helps protect you from feeling low.
Ask yourself, “What’s one thing I can do today that helps me get closer to where I want to be?” Once you become more confident, you can work on accomplishing larger, more long-term goals. Think of the short-term goals you set as stepping stones to your larger goal.
Your self-awareness will improve
Use the form below to help you identify possible barriers to getting where you want to be. Life isn’t perfect and we need to be flexible in our goal setting. Perfection isn’t achievable – try to approach your goals with a sense of fun and curiosity rather than as a task that defines whether you are worthy or not. All too often, perfectionism gets in the way and clients berate themselves and link their sense of self-worth to their achievements, or lack thereof. This is never a good idea. You are worthy regardless but it is fun keeping busy and having purpose in life.
Barriers to discipline and motivation
Regardless of what your problem is – whether it is a physical illness, a difficult relationship, a work situation, a financial crisis, a performance issue, the loss of a loved one, a severe injury, or a clinical disorder such as depression – when we dissect the problem, we usually find four major elements that contribute significantly to the issue. These are represented in the boxes below. Please write as much as you can in each box, about the thoughts, feelings and actions that contribute to or worsen the challenge, problem or issue facing you.
|Entanglement With Thoughts: What memories, worries, fears, self-criticisms, or other unhelpful thoughts do you dwell on, or get “caught up” in? What thoughts do you allow to hold you back or push you around or bring you down?
|Life draining actions: What are you currently doing that makes your life worse in the long-term; keeps you stuck; wastes your time or money; drains your energy; restricts your life; impacts negatively on your health’ work or relationships; maintains or worsens the problems you are dealing with? Eg> self-criticism, comparing yourself to others, avoiding, procrastinating, making excuses, fear of failure…etc
|Struggle With Feelings: What emotions, feelings, urges, impulses or sensations do you fight with, avoid, suppress, try to get rid of, or otherwise struggle with that prevent you from taking action/being more disciplined?
|Avoiding Challenging Situations: What situations, activities, people or places are you avoiding or staying away from? What have you quit, withdrawn from, dropped out of? What do you keep “putting off” until later?
Keep a record of what you do when anxious thoughts and feelings arise and notice if these actions lead to increased motivation/feeling good or increased negativity.
Your confidence and problem-solving ability will increase
Your brain is a muscle. The more you put yourself into new situations or challenge yourself, the more your brain gets a workout. When you invite uncertainty into your life, your brain becomes more adept at recognising similar challenges in the future. More neural pathways are activated and your brain becomes stronger and more able to deal with many different situations in life. If you live a small life and avoid situations/people your brain doesn’t learn new skills and you will remain anxious and fear uncertainty.
Get out there, live your life. See life as an adventure and be curious. A sense of humour helps too as we all tend to take ourselves too seriously and we then end up triggered by the smallest things. Learn to see the bigger picture and live your life according to your values – whether that means being healthier, travelling more, being true to yourself, finding love, or feeling freer. It’s all possible if you make a plan (brainstorm and write it down – read it every day) and take small steps as often as possible towards where you want to be.
I call it living “vertically”. Two years of being ‘horizontal’ have meant many of us have lived stagnant lives but the time has come to start making plans again.
When considering the regrets of the dying, this is what they say:
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Make your goals, create purpose but then get back to living every day. You can be happy whilst achieving your goals instead of adopting the approach of – “I’ll be happy when…”
Enjoy the day, be kind, send out good energy, and give yourself a break when you don’t achieve your chores/goals/tasks for the day. You are human…we are all a work in progress!