For this article I thought I’d be brave and take on the topic of Discipline.
The word Discipline has several meanings and a diverse history. It is derived from the Latin word discipulus meaning to learn, or pupil and disciplina which means instructions given, teaching, or knowledge. The old French word descepline meaning punishment or suffering. The old English version refers to a field of study or branch of knowledge.
With so many meanings it's clear why the word has different connotations for each of us. In the main I believe most of us hear the word Discipline and say to ourselves quietly, yes, something I wish I had more of, was better at, could master in my lifetime.
My own journey with discipline is often a bumpy one I won’t lie to you, however, I believe it’s not about being perfect, just that you win more times than you lose. If we strive to be better humans, to create opportunity for our loved ones and ourselves then at some point, there is an inevitability of facing into challenges or taking on something new and becoming competent at it.
We are not born with discipline - it needs to be built and it’s an individual conquest. But it doesn’t have to be done alone. Having someone as an accountability partner can make all the difference. My wife Chris is my Accountability Partner, and I am hers. I’d like to share with you what works for us each day to keep us on track and aligned to our vision, goals and purpose.
Before we go there, here’s the formula we use in our family to help keep us on track with our goals and ambitions.
(A2 x C2) = D
Action & Accountability multiplied by Consistency & Commitment = Discipline
Having a goal without taking action relegates that goal to a dream. Nice to have – but, without action it’s not going to happen.
Taking Action each day aligned to your goals and having someone you are accountable to for the actions you elected means they are much more likely to happen. Doing this daily and committing to the small steps you said you’d take lead you, over time, to become disciplined. It really is that simple.
Action is our first obstacle to address. Can I share with you how this started for me? With getting up exactly on the alarm. I have a 9-minute window to be out of bed after the alarm has gone off and most mornings, I achieve that. It took me many months to nail that and even this small achievement has become enormously satisfying. Making the bed as my next immediate task also gives me a sense of accomplishment in my day and I’m not even downstairs yet. The secret for me was small things daily.
Staying consistent at anything brings us back to the word discipline again. A little meander is ok but staying on track as we know is hard. Having someone help you be accountable is a clever way to keep you aligned to your goals.
An Accountability Partner is someone you trust, could be a husband or wife, sibling or friend work colleague or training buddy. It really doesn’t matter so long as they are willing to be committed to you and you to them. Now, there are requirements in holding someone accountable and you’d need to have a reasonably robust relationship to manage through those inevitable tougher days.
Daily Accountability Goals
Each day we tell each other three items we are going to accomplish by the end of that day. I write down my own and my wife’s. At the end of the day, we check in on those tasks. We’ve agreed the action we share is important to us, aligned to our wider goals and that we are focussed on completing it. So completing it matters. If we ‘ve missed one it goes onto the next day’s list. Each evening we also share the following days three actions that way we are set up before the day begins.
Progressing this to a wider framework you can have a weekly goal, monthly, quarterly, half year and annual – even a 3-to-5-year goal plan that you construct in the same way. The 5-year goal plan is only going to be successful if you know each year and each month within those years what needs to be achieved. Use your accountability partner in the same way to check in on those actions.
In closing I’d like to leave you with a few thoughts that can help us feel discipline is far more attainable than we otherwise thought and not just for those enviable few.
1. Start small and finish what you start
2. Take immediate action and daily
3. Get yourself an Accountability Partner
4. Consistency creates predictable affirmative results
5. Celebrate your successes when they happen be kind to yourself when they don’t
To your continued future health, success and happiness