164. Developing Self-Discipline (and NOT Relying on Willpower)

by | Sep 7, 2023

Do you ever feel like you’re not a very disciplined person? Most people stop right there because they think it’s a personality trait (they either have it or they don’t) or they think it’s super hard because they’re confusing discipline with willpower.

The good news is discipline can be learned and it can actually be a much easier experience that trying to white knuckle your way to your goals by applying willpower.

This week, I’m sharing a few ways to get started building your self-discipline muscles.

I’ll see you inside! xo, Janeen

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TRANSCRIPT:

[00:00:00] Janeen: Well, hey there my friends. Welcome back to another episode of the podcast. I am Janeen Alley. This is becoming the c e o of your life, and it feels like it’s been a while. I feel like I’ve been. All over the place, and it’s been amazing.

[00:00:15] It’s been really fun. I loved Portugal. I loved being with my son and my husband and seeing all the things that were important to my son while he was there as a missionary in Portugal, just meeting the people and seeing the sites. It was just, Absolutely incredible. And then we were home with him for a week and getting him ready for college.

[00:00:37] And then we took him to college the week after that. And not only that, but then we had reunions on both sides of the family. It has just been kind of a wild ride, and I’m ready to just kind of chillax for a little bit. The end of this week, we’ve got the Life Coach School Mastermind, and then next week is the wellness retreat.

[00:00:55] So it’s nice for me to just kind of sit down and talk about discipline with you guys today. It’s [00:01:00] nice to be back and connecting. I can’t tell you how much I’ve looked forward to this, so let’s talk about self-discipline today and how it’s different from willpower because I think people get this confused a lot. So let’s start off by talking about what self-discipline, or, I’m just gonna say discipline is not today on the show.

[00:01:22] So as I was thinking about this and thinking about how I can teach this to you I was thinking about the way water flows because I know when I am exercising self-discipline, it’s not necessarily that I like doing all the things that I have in my life, but it’s, I’m more in a flow state and I’m not in this resistance state.

[00:01:41] So rivers, of course, don’t flow in a straight line, and when we’re trying to reach a goal, of course it’s not going to be this linear path towards the goal. We are going to have some obstacles in our way, right?

[00:01:54] But when the water flows up to a rock, it just meanders around the rock. [00:02:00] It’s a very natural, flow state of energy. But what we often do when we’re trying to get to a goal is we often create these energetic blockades for ourselves. And one of the ways that we do that is by trying to apply willpower to get something done. It puts us in this state of resistance, and I think of it kind of as this white knuckling kind of clenching experience. So when I was actually doing a little research for this, the difference between self-discipline and willpower, this is what came up on the interwebs.

[00:02:33] It says, while its self-discipline involves creating habits and routines that become automatic over time I’m gonna read it one more time. If you’re listening to this, you might appreciate a second review of this. So it says, while self-discipline involves creating habits and routines, and I like to think of this more as like systems that become automatic over time.

[00:02:55] So I’m just gonna pause here for a moment. For me, [00:03:00] what systems create in my life is structure. Oftentimes, they create safety nets for me so that I’m not off distracted and just doing whatever. I am disciplined. I am very methodical in the way that I do things, but

[00:03:14] it’s because of the systems that I have created and the little habits and routines that I have that I have adopted in my life that help me to stay on track because I’m not, I don’t think, innately a very self-disciplined person. So I’ve thought a lot about, well, how do I get this done? How can I help my clients who are struggling with the same things that I used to struggle with?

[00:03:36] How can I help them to develop these self-discipline muscles that they want? Okay. Versus willpower, which involves resisting short term temptations in order to achieve long-term goals. That is the definition of willpower that I found online. And like I said, this willpower involves a lot of white knuckling and a lot of clenching.

[00:03:59] That is [00:04:00] not an effective long-term strategy. You don’t want to be reaching your goals, like with that energy. It’s not sustainable. It’s not fun, and that’s what we’re going for, is we want the experience to be transformational. We want to be somebody that works out consistently every day and loves it, right?

[00:04:22] We want to be the person that feeds herself well and loves it. We want to be someone who builds a business or makes an impact in the world and really enjoys it. And as CEOs of our lives, we want to get better at developing our self-discipline muscles, so to speak, so you know you’re on the right track.

[00:04:39] When you are in this flow state and you’re not clenching. You’re in the flow and you’re building systems and we wanna start small and we wanna keep things super simple. You’re gonna hear me say that a couple times today because I really want that to sink in. And over time you can turn up the volume as you get into that flow state, and it does become more natural [00:05:00] and rhythmic in your life.

[00:05:01] I think sometimes when we’re thinking about discipline, we think that we’re either born with self-discipline or not. We’re either one of the lucky ones or not. And I never ever wanna give you the impression that this is me, like I, I have been born like a type a, self-disciplined nut from the very beginning, and I’m not either one of those things actually now. And I, I hope I’m giving you enough stories and enough of my personal life experiences for you to know that that is just not me. The reason why this works for me is because of the systems that I have in place and I’m still building them. I actually had a coach today that was like, this is a mess. Like, all right, let’s build this system. Because when she pointed that out to me, I could see, yeah, it was a mess.

[00:05:46] Sometimes we need a little bit of help seeing that. But I think sometimes when we are creating the things that we want to have in our lives we have this impression that it should be easy and that it should [00:06:00] be fun on day one, but if it’s not that way for you and the way that you want to go in your life, and I’m guessing that it’s not because that’s the way it is for just about everybody else, it doesn’t mean that you can’t get there.

[00:06:14] It doesn’t mean that you can’t develop discipline and that you can’t get into that flow state because you a hundred percent can. Like I mentioned, I have systems in place to help me get things done, and this has been a process for me.

[00:06:28] There might be some personality traits that are more advantageous to getting things done. You might have them, you might not. It doesn’t really matter because it’s a hundred percent irrelevant. You are the person that you are and you’ve got the brain that you have and the capabilities that you have at this moment, and you are able to move forward from this place.

[00:06:48] I know when I, I’m talking to my clients, they say things to me like, I plan my day and things come up and I’m not sure how to pivot or I plan my day, but then I just don’t wanna do the plan [00:07:00] and they leave it at that. But this is something that you can learn how to do for sure. I think sometimes when we are comparing ourselves to other people we are in a space of scarcity or in a space of lacking, and it doesn’t leave us in a powerful space, it leaves us feeling kind of helpless. So what I want you to start doing is I want you to stop arguing for your limitations or dwelling on the idea that you don’t have any skills in this area.

[00:07:29] You’ll never stop to think about how you can actually develop the skill if you’re in this head space and you’re building a belief that this is not available to you. So if you’re there, I want you to just open up to the possibility that self-discipline can be developed.

[00:07:44] You can actually do the things that you tell yourself you’re going to do. You can actually show up the way that you hope to. This is something that, Like I said, it’s accessible to you. But I do, I have to tell you that this is a process and sometimes it’s a tadd bit painful [00:08:00] in order to do this, because failing isn’t something that culturally we like to do.

[00:08:04] We have a tendency also to overcomplicate things. We have a tendency to make things much more difficult than they need to be. I’ve had two different business coaches at different times tell me, in order for your business to be successful, you want to build processes that are super boring because we have a tendency to overcomplicate everything, right?

[00:08:27] As human beings. I think this is just the way that we’re wired, right? So I want you to adopt the KISS Method, Keep It Super Simple. That is going to be your motto if you really struggle with self-discipline, you wanna keep it super simple.

[00:08:41] Doesn’t mean that you’re going to be perfect. in fact, That’s not what we’re going for. Perfectionism kills productivity and self-discipline all day long. I think sometimes we get caught up in this idea that we need to practice 10,000 hours, and I really appreciate all that I’ve learned from Malcolm Gladwell [00:09:00] in his book about outliers and being the person who’s gonna go the distance and practice 10,000 hours.

[00:09:06] But I think that’s only applicable to certain things. When we are trying to go for a goal. It’s not necessarily practicing. It’s actually pivoting and learning, and that requires that we fail. When I listen to my kids practice their musical instruments, what drives me nuts is when they practice the same phrase of music over and over again with mistakes in it.

[00:09:32] I want them to go through and do the drills. Because what they’re doing is they’re just practicing the mistakes over and over. That’s how they’re gonna play it. You don’t get better until you actually slow yourself down and you do the drills not just like skimming over the top of it, but getting into it.

[00:09:46] And that’s what I want you to think about when you’re developing your own self-discipline. So how do we get into this flow state? How do we actually develop our self-discipline muscles? So the first step, and I should say these are [00:10:00] not really steps, there’s no order to this, but one of the strategies that you need to apply is that you need to be able to allow whatever is coming up for you in the moment without resistance. Without judgment, without excuses, okay? So let me give you an example of this. This recently happened with one of my clients.

[00:10:20] She was saying, okay, I know that I’m not staying with my food protocol because I’m overwhelmed and I’m overwhelmed because I’m tired. Okay, just super good to know. You just wanna watch yourself having this tired experience. But oftentimes what happens is we’re in this space when we’re overwhelmed and we’re tired.

[00:10:37] The story sounds like this. Well, I don’t want to, and I can’t do it because I’m tired. Okay, so when you’re watching yourself and you’re allowing whatever is coming up for you in the moment, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you succumb to it. It just means that you’re aware of it. So you come to this kind of fork in the road when you bring awareness to the situation.

[00:10:58] You know you’re overwhelmed [00:11:00] and you’re tired. But then you ask yourself, so what am I gonna do? So now what? Am I gonna get to work? Or am I going to quit and not do it today? Okay. And these little mini quits kinda lead us down this path that we don’t like. So you have to understand as human beings throughout the day, sometimes the obstacle is our emotional state.

[00:11:20] Actually, most of the time it is so tired, we’re overwhelmed, we’re confused, whatever it is. And so when we recognize that, we just have to ask yourself, okay, so now what? Now what are we gonna do? Are we gonna do the work that we need to do in order to get grounded and focused and centered and back to work?

[00:11:38] Or are we just gonna take a nap? Forget about it. There are times not often, that I ask myself, okay, what do you actually need? And I do need a nap, and I know that’s what I need in that moment, and that becomes the plan. I. But it’s an intentional plan, and I tell you it happens like 2% of the time because of the discipline that I’ve [00:12:00] developed.

[00:12:00] I know when I’m tired and I truly need a break, and I know when I’m making excuses. Okay, so the next thing that I want to offer to you is to let this self-discipline journey of yours be an experiment. And you want to experiment with the things that you’re doing. So as you’re reaching the goal, you’re practicing experimenting things, okay?

[00:12:22] This is not easy because you have to actually remove the mind drama around it. You have to remove the story, and we’ve got a lot of stories. Right. So let me just give you an example of story for a moment. ’cause this is coming to mind right now. This might sound like a little tangent, but I’m gonna bring it back.

[00:12:38] So our stories are powerful, and if you think about the story of Cinderella, for example, if you just like cooked down the story of Cinderella to the basic structure of the story, you could probably write a paragraph about what goes on in the movie, right? There was a family [00:13:00] and they had a little girl, and the mom died and the dad remarried, and the stepmom has two daughters and they didn’t like Cinderella and they made her life hard.

[00:13:09] Cinderella ended up meeting a prince and they got married. The end okay. There was a little bit of drama in there when I said they made things hard for her. But you could say, you could be more specific instead, and she washed the, the floors and the house, and she took care of the animals and she ended up meeting a prince one day because of a fairy godmother and the end, right?

[00:13:29] That is stripping down the experience to the bare bones. That is just kind of the facts of the story, right? You wanna kind of do that in your own life. When you’re going for a goal, you wanna strip it down to the facts because all of the rest of that story is just the drama, right? That’s what makes it exciting.

[00:13:47] And we love to do this in our own lives, even though we don’t like it, but we do it, right? So you want to remove the story, and oftentimes when people are brand new into the coaching space, [00:14:00] I have to train them to tell me, okay, tell me what what is going on? I don’t need five minute backstory. I need what is happening right now.

[00:14:08] Sometimes I need backstory, but I’ll ask questions to get it. So that is tricky for people. It’s really hard to do that. And the way to identify the story is actually to write it down and then you can ask yourself, okay, if I was to circle facts right here, what would they be? So when you are in this head space of letting this be an experiment, you remove the drama.

[00:14:31] That’s what it means. So you want to consistently ask yourself really helpful questions after you’ve removed the drama. Okay, what is working? What’s not working? How can I do this better? Our desire to get this right and to let it be perfect is something that is going to be a massive damn in your way.

[00:14:51] It’s going to be this energetic blockade for you, so just let it be an experiment. So much easier said than done for us. I totally get it. [00:15:00] But practice that and it will allow you to develop more flow. It will allow you to develop that discipline that you need, okay, when you remove the drama. All right. The next thing that I wanna offer to you here is to get laser focused on your goal.

[00:15:16] So when we dilute our focus, we end up diluting the results that we get. And when we don’t have crystal clear results, it’s really hard for us to know what to change or how to pivot, or what’s working, what’s not working, and how we can do things better. Okay. So focus in this sense does not mean intense. I think sometimes we get that idea that focusing means it’s gotta be intense and we don’t like that because that is a lot of energy output.

[00:15:44] Okay. And when something is really intense, It takes a lot out of us. So we want this, again, to be in that flow state. What focus means is that we have clarity. You’re crystal clear on what you want and where you’re going, and if you [00:16:00] don’t know What you’re actually trying to accomplish because you’re too vague or there’s too many things that you’re trying to do at once or you haven’t made the decisions that you need to make.

[00:16:11] Your results are also going to be very vague and super wishy-washy, and this is going to kill your motivation and you will continue to draw inaccurate conclusions about who you are and what you’re capable of. I want you thinking about, is my vision, or what I want,

[00:16:28] out of focus. You’re thinking about looking through a camera lens and then making the adjustments that you need to in order to focus that lens on what it is that you want. Okay. Which kinda leads me into the, my next point is to make a plan. What we do when we make a plan is we have this plan, we’ve mapped out the day or the week or whatever, and we’re like, okay, I am gonna do this, but we forget

[00:16:52] to plan on not liking the plan. That’s what we forget. We forget on hating it the whole time. And I know some of you’re like, wait, [00:17:00] what? Like I thought I’d enjoy this, but do you? This is why we don’t do it. But the truth is, is whether we reach the goal or we don’t reach the goal or even go for the goal, or don’t go for the goal, life is going to be 50 50.

[00:17:15] What that means is there are pieces of your life that you don’t like right now probably because you’re not making an effort to get what it is that you want. So just know that when you make an effort to get what it is that you want, it’s gonna be hard. It’s gonna be hard in different ways, right? So just expect that. When I learn this, I’m like, oh, okay,

[00:17:32] I’m doing it right because I don’t like this part of it. Okay. So when your brain comes up with, I don’t want to, again that magical question. So what? So what are you gonna do? Okay, welcome to being a human. So if we wait around to love every single thing that we’re doing, you’re not gonna do it. Right? You actually do a lot of things in your life right now that you don’t wanna do.

[00:17:55] Right? You clean the dishes, you make dinner, you take out the trash, you clean the [00:18:00] baseboards. I mean, there’s a lot of things that we do that we don’t actually like to do, and I have to tell you that these are things

[00:18:05] that we can learn to like over time. I used to hate weeding. I probably hated weeding until I was 40 years old. I actually love weeding now, and the reason why is because it gives me a chance to listen to all the podcasts that

[00:18:20] I have missed out on. It gives me a chance to even have some quiet time. I’ve loved going out in my garden this year and just not listening to anything except for the birds, the squirrels, whatever else is going on, and just being out there with my thoughts. I’ve gotten a lot of clarity about a lot of things because of weeding, which I used to hate to do.

[00:18:40] I think sometimes we think we should even like doing self-care things all the time. I can’t tell you how many times I’m like, I don’t wanna sit in my hot box today, or I don’t wanna work out today. And this is where those self-discipline muscles need to come into play. We can do it anyway. When I went outta town [00:19:00] I had all the podcast content done. I had all of my social media posts written because I was doing it for my future self.

[00:19:08] I knew that that week in between that I had with my son home, getting him ready for college was gonna be a full week of being with him and shopping for him and being together. And I could’ve podcasted. But I knew I didn’t want to. And so I did all of that work beforehand to set my future self up for success.

[00:19:27] Okay. And I was so dang proud of myself that I did that and I celebrated the heck out of that. So let me just end with that. The last thing that I’m gonna offer to you here in developing self-discipline is to train yourself to enjoy the things that you currently don’t. Like, exercise or like weeding.

[00:19:46] Okay. There, there isn’t really an upside, I’ll just take exercise. An example. There isn’t really an upside to hating exercise, right? It’s exercise is good for us. So we want to be exercising so it’s not [00:20:00] conducive to exercising if we just don’t like it the whole time. I know I’ve talked before about this, I’ve talked to women who run and they hate it.

[00:20:09] I’m like, why would you do that? I don’t understand. I mean, that takes so much willpower. I’m like, oh my gosh. I’d be exhausted. Not because of the run, but because of forcing myself to do it the whole time and hating it. So I know I just said, just plan on not liking it. That’s in the beginning. One of the ways to continue going is to work on liking something that you want to do.

[00:20:32] You want to feed yourself well. I totally get that. So think about the parts of that experience that you like. Focus on those things and then at the end of it, you wanna celebrate the heck out of getting it done. That will help you

[00:20:47] to like what it is that you don’t currently or make it really easy for yourself. Like when I weeded, I’m focusing on meditating, I’m focusing on thinking that is amazing to me. I love that so much. So I love weeding.[00:21:00]

[00:21:00] All right, my friends, that is all I have for you today. I do want to invite you into my Burnout Breakthrough course. This is actually where I dish all of the details on how to apply all of the amazing things that I talk about on the podcast and so much more. So that you can cut through the fatigue and the burnout that you’re experiencing in your life to be able to go and do the things that you so desire to do and so that you enjoy your life instead of feeling like you’re constantly behind and hustling all day.

[00:21:35] There really isn’t a better gift, then showing up for yourself and for your loved ones in a way where you feel peaceful and calm and joyfully productive in the things that you’re doing.

[00:21:45] So if that sounds good to you, all you need to do is just reach out to me. There will be links to the ways that we can get in touch at the bottom of this episode. All right, my friends. Have a beautiful rest of your week and we will talk to you soon. See you. Bye.

 

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