The road to better health and more happiness is anything but a straight line, we all know this. And on that road, you’ll ebb and you’ll flow. You’ll feel super charged and super deflated. You’ll feel like you can’t wait to get up and break a sweat and refuel with quality nutrition and you’ll feel like you just want to pull the covers over your head and sleep another hour before you have a doughnut for breakfast.
When Things Are Going Well, It’s Easy to Say No.
Junky temptations actually look like barriers to your goals and it would simply be absurd to let anything get between you and what you want most. Your discipline is sky high and your focus is razor sharp and on point. When things are ebbing…well, that’s another story.
Everything seems harder. Temptations run high and discipline is low. Guilt sets in. Doubt lingers and you may feel discouraged. “What’s the point anyway?” may run through your mind as you skip workouts, make lower quality food choices and give into what you want NOW more than what you want MOST. A nap, a snack, a drink? All ok in moderation, but add them all up and you can spiral down a path to nowheres-ville pretty quick.
As It Turns Out, Discipline Is a Muscle.
We read “The Power of Habit” and “The One Thing” in my book club this year. Both authors talk about the numerous studies that support this point. Discipline, also known as willpower, is an expendable and flexible muscle. This is good because it means you can strengthen it, but it can also be a bad thing because it can get fatigued and fail you when it’s over taxed.
How Do You Recharge Your Discipline?
That’s the million-dollar question. We know how to build physical muscle, but how do we build mental muscle? I think it involves two key things:
1. Clear, definitive goals and a path to achieve them. You’ll never know you’re off track if you don’t know where you’re going or how to get there.
2. Having a strategy in place for when your discipline ebbs and your willpower is fatigued. If you know this a natural part of the process, why not be prepared?
I’ve written a few posts about the first point, and this post on setting smart fitness goals is pretty simple and straight forward. It’s the second point that is the tricky one and has really had me thinking these past few weeks. One day, I was standing in line at the grocery store, and a snickers bar started flirting with me. I was seriously considering taking it home. And then this little voice popped in my head that said, “No, thank you.” It made me smile, perked up my self esteem and I left the market with only my planned goods.
Collect ‘No, Thank You’s” and Let Them Build Momentum
That little “No, thank you,” was empowering. It was polite. It was effective! Then I thought, what if I could say “No, thank you,” more often? And each one represented a good decision to not derail my goals. What if at the end of the day I had collected five, maybe 10 “No, thank you’s”? That would represent five to 10 smart choices — how could you not feel empowered and in control by that magnitude of wise choices?
Learning to make the simple mental shift to let the “No, thank you” not tax your willpower, but to fuel and strengthen it could be life changing. Collecting them all day as badges of honor could quite literally transform the way your discipline functions. What once made it weaker now makes it stronger. Maybe — let’s give it a shot!
Recharge Your Discipline With ‘No, Thank You’.
Next time you’re in that ebbing state, the time when the snickers bar or snooze button starts to flirt with you…heavily, then exercise your right to politely decline. Say. “No, thank you,” to yourself or the offer. Make a mental check box, track it in an app or a journal, but make a note of it. Make a note of the smart decision you made to stay the course. To choose what you want MOST over what you want in the moment. Strengthening your willpower will bring you that much closer to your goals.