Derek on Discipline – the key link between goals and accomplishment

The realisation of your goals within the world of fitness is not immediate and they never will be. The satisfaction though, when they are met, is all the sweeter because of the time and work it took to achieve them.

A good friend of mine once told me this. It has stuck with me throughout the entirety of my fitness career. The time that it takes to meet the satisfaction that is needed to maintain discipline is an achievement in itself. Take the time that is needed. Your mind and body will thank you for it.

Disciplining one’s self in the ever-changing landscape that is fitness. It comes with a deluge of questions. Why don’t people work out? Why stick to a diet? Why get up early on a Sunday morning? What is there to keep myself motivated?

These things make us feel uncomfortable. They are laborious. They are difficult. We have to build immunity towards them. As adaptable as we are, we struggle to see benefits to challenges when they affect us so acutely. Physical strength and endurance is constructed over time. Discipline comes with time.

What I learned during my toughest times in my early days of dance and yoga training is that discipline is often looked at with disdain. For me, it was my best friend. Discipline was always there beside me through thick and thin no matter what. Times when I lost all motivation, discipline was there to take up the slack.

Derek Shannon headstand

Let me elaborate on that, (after much talk of time and our inner motivations). We all make the plans and the resolutions, we follow the paths before us and whilst our intentions are commendable we take on too much.

When we are motivated it is easy to work on our goals but as we get up to head into those dark, cold January days and the pain of those first few fitness classes kicks in, it gets harder and harder to leave that cosy couch by the fire. We’ve all felt that knot of guilt in our stomachs. It’s not a good feeling and more importantly it is not a sustainable attitude.

Chinese philosopher Laozi said “Great acts are made up of small deeds.” To reach your fitness goals, you will need to take many many small steps. Motivation can get you started on the road to change but discipline is the mode of transport that will endure. Motivations will change and so will we. Discipline is what will prevail. In order to meet your long term goals, you must leave motivation behind and turn to discipline.

Start looking at discipline as your best friend. Someone who will always be on your side. The one who will commend you on a job well done but the same one who will deliver a swift kick when you are slacking. From early sunshine to dark, cold nights and lashing rain, from morning to night and everything in between.

Discipline is what gets you up off that couch, that desk, that car and into a better way of being, of moving, of living.

Instead of dreading it, go ahead and embrace it, feel the fear and do it anyways! It sounds crazy. It even sounds a little bit scary. Discipline is an entity in itself and by making it your next in command, you are driving yourself forward everyday. Embrace the feelings of displeasure and pain. Thank it for reminding you that you are doing something real. Appreciate it for encouraging you to move beyond simply wanting or needing a motivation.

If you can do this for three whole weeks, you will change your life forever.

Many people believe that a lack of motivation leads to procrastination. While that may be partially true, restoring your motivation will never ensure that you stop procrastinating. In fact, motivation will never lead to sustained success. The reason why so many of us fail at accomplishing our goals is because we rely on motivation to carry us through to the end, hoping that it will inspire us to not only make change, but also to stick with it.

Stop relying on motivation to find success. It will lead to procrastinating, internal anguish, and ultimately failure.

Discipline is simple: it is maintaining a high tolerance for uncomfortable feelings. Tolerance that can be trained like any other muscle. Every moment that you spend working on something you don’t feel like doing, you are training to be stronger.

Stick to a philosophy that is challenging at first and see that it incorporates itself into your identity. Do you see the people who run on a daily basis? Who hike every weekend? It is a part of them, it is who they are. You need only work alongside your own discipline and whatever you wish to be your identity, it will be yours.

You may not be the best looking person, the richest person nor the most successful person but you can be the toughest person. Regardless of feelings or emotions, of the difficulties that stand in each person’s way. We all have that choice.

Start taking pride in yourself, in the discipline that you can maintain. Own your practice. Own your identity.

When you get up early to hit the gym tomorrow or this weekend, that is a product of motivation. When you are still getting up everyday at 6 AM to work out three months later, that is a product of discipline.

Discipline is the key link between goals and accomplishment, work now for what you want tomorrow.

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