inspiration

Finding Personal Discipline

I consider myself a pretty disciplined person. I’ve always naturally liked following a schedule and a routine. So much so that my “discipline” could feel like a flaw at some points. I had very specific routines for getting ready for school in the morning (down to the minutes) and how I’d get ready for crew practice and how I’d do my homework.
Being the on the rowing team both in high school and in college certainly helped me hone my personal discipline skills.
However, getting into my yoga practice has had me reevaluating my personal discipline. So much of what I do is ingrained in my brain and routine already (waking up early, running my business, blogging every day) that it was a little shock to my system to have something new pop up in my life.
For the first time, I think I really feel myself practicing discipline. With my other commitments (school, crew, my job), it always felt like something I had to do so I had no problem getting it down.
With yoga? It’s recreational. It’s a bonus. I love it once I’m down the street and on my way, I love my classes, and I really love the feeling of accomplishment afterward. But, guys, it’s SO hard for me to get out the door.

I’m going to share my personal tips for how I practice discipline with yoga and beyond. I’m using my own activities and priorities as examples, so just swap them out and tailor it to your own needs.
Prioritize | I’ve found that with anything in life, if you don’t make an effort to prioritize something, it won’t happen. That could be making time for friends (or for yourself), getting extra credit assignments done, reading more, getting in a morning run, eating healthier, etc. If you’re finding that you’re not getting something done, figure out what you are getting done and see if it’s a good priority. A positive example, you may not be reading a book a week right now but you’re building a business plan in your free time. On the flip side, if you want to be running every day but find yourself zipping through an entire series on Netflix in a week, you’ve prioritized Netflix over Running.
One of the hardest things to come to terms with as far as prioritization goes is that you can’t prioritize everything all at once. That’s the magic and the curse of prioritization: it forces you to place what’s important to you in a specific order. Prioritization is the first step to commitment. And you need commitment to have good discipline. 
Schedule It | My biggest tip is to schedule your priorities. Write it down to show yourself that you’ve committed and it also helps you visualize how it fits into your day. (Part of the reason why I love doing this is because it makes me realize how much I can get done in a day if I don’t deviate from the schedule.) I joke that if it’s not on my Google Calendar, it’s not happening. And that includes my yoga classes!!!
Part of scheduling is also schedule down time. Being disciplined isn’t turning yourself into a machine. You can hang onto that for about a week or so but it leads to burn out. Give yourself the flexibility to relax and unwind and feel unscheduled. By doing this you give yourself the structure to set yourself up for healthy success.
I am fortunate to have the flexibility to schedule my day in the most effective manner. For me that means working normal hours until mid afternoon (from 8am to 3pm depending on my meeting schedule) and then breaking until dinner. While I think it’s “typical” to relax after a regular work day (happy hours, cooking dinner, watching television), I find that I work a lot better at night (from around 8pm to midnight….or later, whoops) than I do in the afternoon. I “schedule” my downtime in the afternoon so I feel rested for my second wind at night. Having this schedule in place and written down makes me feel less guilty for enjoying the sunshine during the day and more motivated to continue my to-do list after dinner.
Track, but Don’t Reward | This might be a slightly controversial point, but I don’t think you should reward yourself for being disciplined. I think rewards okay for hitting specific milestones or goals because they’re something you work towards, but discipline should be expected. The feeling of accomplishment is reward enough! Keep track of your discipline so you can hold yourself accountable. I also find that it helps to write down how I feel after a yoga class so I can refer to that when I’m not in the mood to go to a class. 
Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself | When you fall off the discipline bandwagon, it’s more like a jumping out of a plane. I know that if I start to slip in my discipline it’s a swift decline. I get very down on myself and feel like it’s not even worth trying again. I let five days of personal frustration prevent me from starting today off fresh. If you do find yourself struggling to maintain personal discipline, cut yourself some slack. Remind yourself that it’s a new day and don’t even think about the past. Every day you’re disciplined is one more day in the right direction.
Do you have any discipline tips and tricks and advice that you want to add?


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7 Comments

Annie

I think the biggest thing I took away from this post was the need to schedule. I often push my workouts off because I would much rather lie in bed than go for a run. However, I think if I scheduled the run in as if it were a meeting (things I always prioritize and never miss) I would be way more willing to do it and cross it off! I will definitely be trying this trick this summer, especially when it starts getting busy! Thanks for the tip ­čÖé

Annie N Belle

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Catherine

This post resonated with me so much right now! I just graduated college two days ago and don't have a job lined up yet, so I'm in this weird state of limbo where I have all of this free time. I'm having trouble being productive and disciplined, so these tips are really helpful!

Catherine
http://www.myinnerfabulous.com

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Brittany McFarlane

As a rower, I am loving this! I rowed in high school and was then recruited to row for Gonzaga : ) I've also coached. Miss it SO much!! I am also very disciplined, and I attribute it to rowing! Discipline and time-management… big time. Just found this blog and will keep following you! http://www.blushbrunette.com

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Dani

I agree with you on "track, don't reward". It's pretty much like not expecting a bonus or thank-you's for simply doing your job. A reward would be nice and welcome, but it should not be the motivation!

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Rachel

Love these tips! I'm a graduate student with a *very* flexible schedule, and it can be difficult to keep to a routine. I'm finding it helpful to schedule everything–work, lunch, downtime, etc.–as you suggest. I'm also feeling inspired by the way you've defined your own schedule and chosen to work in the evenings rather than the afternoons! I think it's important that we create our schedules in a way that works for us rather than feeling like we have to follow some arbitrary standard.

Rachel
http://www.rachelwaxman.com

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Melissa Hebbe

I schedule in my yoga classes as well. Just like you with Google calendar, if it's not written in my planner, it won't happen. Also, my yoga studio has a cancellation policy where I can cancel up until 2 hours before class without any fees, which I think helps people get to class and prevents them from letting any last minute things disrupt their yoga practice.

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