The Art of Discipline and Some Big Anouncements

I apologize, but this week I’m going to deviate a for a moment to discuss some important news. If you want to just skip this, just start reading from the header labeled “The Art of Discipline”.

So, two big things have happened!

  1. Tia, being awesome like she usually is, proposed to me. This means in about 2 years Tia and I will be married and ideally living together.

  2. We’ve officially hit the one year mark for this newsletter. The date when I first started regularly writing the newsletter was August 30th, 2014. So, Happy Anniversary!

So, what does this all mean?

In order have money for a nice wedding and good future with my fiance, I need to shift my focus. For the past year or so, I have focused heavily on my newsletter to regularly provide meaningful content, but at the cost of probably taking time away from other activities such as learning public speaking, networking, and hosting events. This means I’ll be redesigning my newsletter to be less time-consuming to produce, but hopefully still great for you to enjoy.

What will you be doing?

Tentatively, the plan is that the Heart’s Journey Coaching Newsletter is going on hiatus for about a month. During this time, I will be redesigning the newsletter as well as developing my ability to effectively create good, enjoyable Youtube videos. When I come back, the newsletter will return and will be reformatted. Specifically instead of all the junk I currently shove into an issue, the new newsletter will only contain one personally made Youtube video and a Shiny Thing of the Week. I also tentatively plan to publish twice a month instead of keeping up weekly.

If you have any questions about this, want to give feedback, or want an update on my progress while I’m on hiatus, feel free to email me. Such emails keep me on my toes and ensure I deliver on what I am promising. Likewise, they can the provide important feedback I need to make sure the newsletter stays successful.

Alright, now that anouncements are done, let’s switch gears. I hate the idea of writing and not providing you with any goodies, so onto the good stuff!

The Art of Discipline

Something I never thought I would ever accomplish is successfully writing a newsletter every week for a year. The one exception to this is that I did miss delivering the newsletter one week due to technical issues out of my control, but nothing is perfect without a little imperfection.

That aside, the cool part about accomplishing this was it didn’t feel difficult. I was able to do my newsletter every week, and it wasn’t typically something I had to wrestle with, force myself to do, or feel miserable doing. This is something I think we miss when we try to do something that requires discipline, and I want to explore it with you.

Why we fail with discipline.

One of the big problems I think that causes people to have poor discipline is that they treat it as a game of willpower. For example, the way you avoid eating chocolate for a whole month is to will yourself to never eat it. The flaw with this ideology is that we actually have limited willpower.

This is why grocery stores place candy by the register. Usually by the time you’ve wandered a whole grocery store, you’ve used up a lot of mental energy making choices between different products and as well as what you’ll splurge your money and calories on. By the time you reach the register (especially if you’ve had a long day) your ability to make responsible choices is spent. This means if they put a candy bar by the register, you’ll likely buy it.

So, in other words, the reason we fail with discipline is because we’re going about it wrong. It’s kind of like running through the desert, with no plan, thinking that somehow you won’t get dehydrated.

The secret

Instead of using brute force in the form of willpower, the secret to discipline is to make willpower a non-issue. For example, you’ll probably never buy candy at the register if you always come to the grocery store with a full stomach.

This is essentially what I did with my newsletter. I intentionally stacked the cards so that doing my newsletter was natural rather than something I willed myself to do. Depending on what you are doing, different approaches will help. In the case of my newsletter, I really integrated writing into my routine, and I had a lot of accountability in the form of readers, but let’s go over what you could do to have better discipline.

Get in the habit of making habits

For the longest time I used to think habits were just something you either did or didn’t do, but I’ve come realize that it’s a skill you develop.

This is something I realized when I noticed Tia’s habits started to improve. She would get into habit of doing something simple, like emptying trash out of her purse, and then she would just carry that onto other habits. This meant once she developed one habit, other habits got easier.

So what this means is that if you can get good at maintaining good habits, your need for discipline and willpower to stay on task will be less. So, if you want to be more disciplined, start with simple things, like brushing your teeth or getting up at a consistent hour. As these become more routine and less something you force yourself to do every day, other habits will get easier to maintain.

Also, on a final note, I’ll say that this is very powerful. I’ve always been very good with habits, and I’ve noticed that it’s definitely the reason why I can actually run a personal business. It’s very easy for me to develop habits to regularly write newsletters, practice public speaking, network, etc., and it’s mostly because I have a strong foundation of habit making to support me.

Create accountability

Once my newsletter started having a consistent readership, it was a lot easier for me to keep up with it. This is because I knew that, every Sunday, people were looking forward to reading my work. I found it a lot less tempting to slack off on my newsletter, because I knew people were counting on me to provide them with something insightful each week.

My newsletter was lucky enough to have some built-in accountability, but this also something you can intentionally create. Ask a reliable friend to check up on you regularly and tell them to seriously harass you when you fail to keep up with what you promised. After your friend has pranked or embarrassed you a few times, you’ll probably stay on course with your goals.

Another simple way you can also generate accountability is to regularly share what you are working on. This is something I do all the time. I frequently inform people about what’s going on in the business. When you do this, people are often inclined to check in on your progress. Right now, I pretty regularly get people asking me how my last public speech went, and it definitely helps me stay focused. Likewise if somebody asks about something I haven’t worked on in awhile, it reminds me that I may need to get back working on it.

Make the task itself easier

In addition to good habits and accountability, anything you can do to make a goal less effort helps. For example, imagine you made a goal to exercise three times a week but every time before you worked out, you had to drive to a gym an hour away. If you actually had to do this, chances are you’d quit very quickly. It frankly takes too much time, energy, and willpower to justify driving that distance to get in shape.

In contrast, if there is a gym right next to where you work, you have a friend who regularly invites you to join him/her, and you always have a spare set of gym clothes in your car, chances are you’ll exercise a lot more.

The tricky part about applying this rule is that it is very case specific. For example, my newsletter became easier to keep up with when got a pre-made template that I just had to put the week’s material in. In your case, it probably won’t be a template, but it will be something else.

If you’re trying to maintain a new habit, try to think about what makes it a pain to do. Are there extra steps you have to take that make it annoying? Is there a way that you can make the habit more part of your natural routine?

Ideally, you want your life set up such that you don’t dread keeping up with your habit. Instead, you want to be thinking, “well I’m already here, everything is set up for me, and I’ve got time. It seems silly to not do it.”

Also, remember even small things help. One very small thing I do when I need to write an article is I constantly leave the word document open on my computer. This forces me to notice it every time I’m on my computer, and it gets me more into the mindset of “well, the document is already open, I should write something.”

So, good luck with your new habits, and thank you for reading my newsletter. I hope you’ll enjoy it just as much when it changes, and I look forward to sharing with you again in October!

Image provided by Kkkdc via wikipedia.org

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