Hello again! We are over halfway through January. Usually at this point people are still pretty strong in their new resolutions or goals. How can you continue to stay strong and not fall back into old habits as time goes on and will-power and motivation fade? Train your DISCIPLINE!!
As promised, this week are continuing to define the attributes of discipline. Last week we looked at the first three attributes which were COMMITMENT, PUNCTUALITY and GOALS. Today we go over the next four which are FOCUS, PERSISTENCE, DETERMINATION and RESPONSIBILITY.
- FOCUS: Discipline requires the ability to direct energy, resources and time to your tasks. Focus is a skill that seems especially difficult to build in our modern world. Phones, the internet, FaceBook, YouTube, sources of immediate information and entertainment which are constantly tempting us to shift our focus every few minutes. Even as I write this blog, my phone is buzzing that I’m receiving messages, other tabs are open in the browser and I am tempted to click around every few minutes to see what else is happening. So how do we train focus? Our brain is like a muscle and it can be trained in the same way! We can practice mindfulness in our tasks, which just means slowing down, observing how we feel, enjoying the moment and following through on a task to completion. Try a “distraction list”. If you get distracted when trying to focus on a specific task, make a list of those thoughts and come back to them later so you can continue to focus on the current task. Try some meditation! These are just a few ways to start training the “focus muscle”.
- PERSISTANCE: Disciplined people do not give up when things get difficult. As a parent I think that persistence and mental toughness are some of the most difficult things to teach. Persistence is the ability to keep pushing through difficult times. Discipline requires that we follow through on our goals, tasks, and responsibilities even if things are difficult or not going how we would like. Anything worth achieving takes time and patience and maybe even some rethinking of the path to the goal. All of those things are acceptable, GIVING UP is NOT!
- DETERMINATION: Is the motivation to persevere and achieve. Most of our goals start with this feeling of determination to achieve something or change something. This is the feeling that makes us be disciplined in continuing towards our goal in the long term. If you find that you are lacking in motivation to follow through with a commitment or goal, it might be worth rethinking how important it actually is for you. If determination is lacking, likely the goal is not as important to you as you may have thought.
- RESPONSIBILITY: Disciplined people take responsibility for their actions; positive or negative. Responsibility can be expressed in many ways, in sticking to our word, completing tasks, admitting mistakes, choosing to lead others or just caring for ourselves. In our Martial Arts classes we have a lot of opportunity to talk about responsibility. Inevitably, when a student forgets something, the first reaction is “Well ma’am, my MOM forgot to pack my belt (uniform, undershirt, etc)”. Which is a fantastic teaching opportunity to reinforce personal responsibility in being correctly prepared. This is only one aspect of responsibility however. Discipline requires that we assume responsibility for positive and negative outcomes without excuses.
You can begin to see how many of these attributes work hand in hand to develop discipline. If we can start to foster these things early with our children they will be well prepared for success as they mature. As adults it is our duty to assess our skills in these areas and work to improve in the areas that are lacking. Discipline is essential to successful growth and development at any age! Next week we will complete the discipline series by reviewing the last four attributes of this important Life Skill.