Over the years serving my personal training clients in Liverpool and coaching clients across the world, I've been fascinated by the factors that affect people's level of self-discipline. For example, one of my recent home personal training clients on the Wirral was struggling with her self-discipline concerning her diet. However, instead of suggesting changes, I decided to act like the dumb trainer and ask why when questioning her.
'Why are you struggling with your self-discipline to maintain a good diet'? 'When I'm tired in the evening, I just want something sweet after dinner; why do you want to eat something sweet after you're already full?' 'Because chocolate tastes great and it makes me happy, it's the highlight of my day'. 'If consuming a ridiculous amount of additional calories at the end of the day is what makes you happy, then what is that saying about your life?'... Silence!
When we started digging deeper, the reality was her everyday life was incredibly stressful, repetitive and becoming dull. Sarah was on the typical 9-5 treadmill with managing two young kids either end, so the easy option would be to try and cut calories to lose weight. Although this may seem like the obvious solution, she couldn't stop eating highly palatable sweet foods because she feared making the complex shifts within her lifestyle to allow for more enjoyment in her everyday life.
Fast solutions are easy to do but challenging to maintain, and slower longer-term solutions are typically harder to do but then easier to maintain once implemented. Although this is the natural way of anything we want to accomplish, great things will take significant effort, and great effort takes great courage.
Courage is the first key attribute for us to practice when looking to achieve any goal in life. Unfortunately, it's often overlooked, and it plays a significant role in our ability to take the necessary steps towards our goals. To be successful, we need to become disciplined individuals, but there cannot be discipline without fear, and when fear is present, it takes courage to overcome.
Fear is present within us all, and we experience this on some level, be it conscious or subconscious daily. Quite often, we will have programmed avoidance strategies that have become strong habits from the thing that keeps us away from the perceived danger (fear). Thus, we face the problem that we typically tend to avoid the necessary things we need to overcome to achieve our desired goals. In a recent blog, I cover this in-depth, why we struggle to achieve our goals
The elderly overweight lady who's been instructed to visit the gym 4x a week and has to encounter the experience of a crowded space full of fit young people who know what they're doing and she does not. The thought of the intimidating environment is enough to keep her away from the gym for a long time.
The young employee who attends the weekly staff meeting full of creative ideas that could make a significant positive impact in his workplace; however, despite his willingness to progress his career, he has previously been labelled as being stupid in his earlier years, and the fear of his ideas being rejected will strongly reinforce the past ill judgements. This fear keeps him quiet, and he fails ever to show his potential.
Whether we have created a fear through our internal dialogue or negative experiences, we become excellent at avoiding it; we will go as far as producing excellent justifications as to why we should not do that thing. But, unfortunately, it's this thinking that holds us back and often stops us from moving forward.
From the bible, ancient philosophers and mythical stories, courage is a repeated story throughout human history. Today, many movies are made around this; the hero's journey will always start with the main character suffering from their deepest fears, the journey of struggle and growth before ending in triumph. We as humans can always be deeply related to this because it holds true for all of us. The most profound rewards we can reach in our lives are protected by some of the deepest fears we hold. Have you ever wondered why Gold, man's most precious metal, is the bed of comfort for which the fire breathing dragon sleeps?
Courage, as actor Morgan Freeman beautifully states 'is the key to life itself. Learning to overcome your barriers is what shifts you from the person that can't go to the person that can; it's all on you!
In my 30 Day Body Blitz Membership programme and with my private clients, I provide them with Mindset practices to overcome the difficult areas people face when making significant changes to their lifestyle. Click here to view more details
Deprivation of those things that give us pleasure but do you harm in the long term is where you'll meet your demons, and it will take great courage for you to succeed. But, as with anything, the more you practice, the better you become, so a daily practice in courage will allow you to develop great self-confidence and transcend your limitations.
World-renowned Professor and Clinical Psychologist Jordan Peterson will often share his professional view on courage and how he has helped thousands of people overcome their fears; along with his clinical experience, the research also confirms his methods. Quote 'As far as we know, the best way to help people overcome their fear is to expose them to micros doses of that very fear and gradually increase over time until they develop their courageous attributes'.
Every day take one step into something that you're avoiding. Is it the visit to the gym, putting your ideas forward in a meeting, writing the book, avoiding the reality of your chocolate and alcohol consumption? Are you putting off doing the heavy lifting of making profound positive life changes? You will encounter this somewhere each day, and the trick is to lean into this and take one positive action towards overcoming it. Start small if the fear is intense and expose yourself to it by making that small but significant step.
As you feel braver, increase your exposure to that fear-based task and make more significant progressive steps. Of course, you'll always feel fear but, you'll be in a much strong position to deal with it, and those necessary steps will always happen.
Journal your progressive steps daily, and you'll soon make dramatic changes to your body by practising courage. Remember, there's no discipline without fear, so if we want to become disciplined, we need to become courageous!