By Leo Babauta
In this webinar, I go over exercises to build self-discipline and I answered some awesome questions.
I’ve broken this webinar recording into two parts:
- Part I – My Talk: Exercises to build self-discipline. (See notes)
- Part II – Questions & Answers: I answered questions dealing with messing up a streak, choosing a self-discipline habit to build, interval training, doing challenges that don’t seem appealing and more!
Part I: Leo’s Talk (with notes)
Here are the notes from my talk (video is below the notes):
Exercises to build self-discipline:
We are using the analogy of building a muscle. We are not actually building a muscle but we are building is new neural pathways. We are asking our brain to change paths and go left instead of right. This requires us to consciously choose this new path over and over. It will become more engrained the more times we choose it. In doing so, we are training ourselves, much like we build muscles. Exercises do help.
Our default is to procrastinate and go towards distractions. There can be many legitimate reasons that stop us from going left. Sickness, visitors, kids, work projects, travel, and family things come up causing us to go to the right. But, there is one neural pathway we want to train out. It is the path that tells us just to give up and always go right because we missed at going left. Instead, we want to train to come back and start again. Keep training. Don’t give up!
How do we train ourselves to start again?
- Catch yourself. When you start to see ourselves go down the old path, stop. Consciously, deliberately go down the new path. Start again. Whatever self-criticism I have or funk I got into, start again.
- Retrain yourself a little bit at a time. It does take time and effort but it is worth it! The first thing is seeing what has happened in the first two weeks of this self-discipline course. You are starting to practice and form new pathways. But you also can see where you veer off path and what gets in the way. This is really good information. You cannot train yourself without this information. Even if you are doing great, notice when you tend to put off your self-discipline practice. Perhaps you haven’t hit your obstacles yet.
- Gather information. When do we start to veer toward the right and go towards our old pathways without self-discipline? We are not trying to be perfect. This is about learning what’s getting in our way. When we see what gets in our way, we need to take notes. Write down what your go-to distractions are. Once you have about ten of them, pick one. That’s the one you want to retrain.
- Pick your one path to retrain and practice. Whatever your excuse is, write it down where you can see it so you can keep retraining that one path. Have a solution that will help you change the path to that one, particular obstacle. You may write something down that says “Just start!”. Or if you are critical of yourself, you could write “Love Yourself” and give yourself compassion. Do it as an act of self-love. Focus on this for at least 3 days! A week is even better.
- Love what you are doing. Go to the next biggest obstacle getting in your way and work on that. It could be thinking negative thoughts about the pathway. Perhaps you think running sucks but you do it anyway because you are part of this challenge. If you start complaining about it but do it anyway because it’s good for you, that is not a helpful way of being. You will easily get derailed because it is something you are not looking forward to doing. Retrain that. Love what you are doing.
- Play music. When we play music that we enjoy, it increases our enjoyment of the activity we are doing. It then becomes a pleasant experience. You then begin to look forward to it.
- Find gratitude in the moment. What can you be grateful for in the moment? I am grateful for all of you who showed up! I am so grateful for that. I am moved every time you show up. I feel great to be able to share this with all of you. Gratitude is another antidote to retrain yourself.
- Build a streak. Seven straight days of one practice…amazing! Building a streak can feel really good. The problem with streaks is that it can be discouraging once it breaks and you need to start over. It is hard to build up but streaks can be a lot of fun if you don’t let yourself get discouraged when it breaks. Come back and start again. Just start again. If you keep starting again every time you fail, you will be amazing at self-discipline!
- Do it for others. I feel gratitude to serve you in whatever way I can. If I can be of some kind of support and if you can support each other, then we can create some amazing things together! Give encouraging words. By taking care of yourself first, you are more able to help take care of others. Taking care of yourself is a service to others. It is an example and a shining light to others to see your practice of self-love.
- Get some support. Ask for some help on the Sea Change forum. Or you can always email me personally at [email protected]. I can’t guarantee a response but what I can do is try and ask for support from the Sea Change community. In this way we can support each other. Get an accountability buddy, start a challenge, or ask people in your lives to gain support.
- Take your training to the next level. Interval training. Whether it’s writing, running, meditating, or whatever challenge you chose, do it for 10 minutes, take a 5 minute break, and do another 10-minute session. You can do that up to an hour and take a break. Breaks are really important! We allow ourselves to rest and then launch back into the next session. We are retraining the “start again” neural pathway. Don’t start interval training unless you are doing well with the daily practice.
Retraining yourself may sound like a lot of work, but you can do it. If you fail, retrain yourself to start again. That is key.
Part II: Questions and Answers
Questions answered in this video:
- Please elaborate on doing great with a new habit and then letting down your guard and messing up your streak.
- When choosing among several commitments or habits to build, would you rather go for the one you tried multiple times before and failed or a completely new one?
- I suffer from the “overachiever syndrome”. Whatever habit/task I am able to handle, I tell myself the main reason I did succeed is because the task was easy, not because I am awesome.
- An explanation of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and medium-intensity interval training.
- What about self-discipline for changing ways of being so there isn’t a checking it off aspect?
- How do you trick yourself into doing things you don’t find appealing? For example, spending long periods of time learning a new skill?
- How do you know the difference of being compassionate to yourself for not being 100% successful and letting yourself off the hook?
- What about the obstacle of feeling ashamed to disappoint the teacher when we miss some of the challenges? So feeling like we are not showing up so late?
- What is your response to a daunting task?