After teaching martial arts for more than 35 years, I have seen my fair share of people come through the doors. I am often asked how long the average students stays in the system. I have to be honest and say…not very long. It takes minimum 3 years to get a Black belt and I have graded almost 400 junior and senior students to Black. Of those Black belts, most have quit.
It seems that most people are not in anything for the long term. Long term requires constant self discipline. To continue to work on anything, be it your daily exercise, diet, or relationships, maintaining excellence and personal standards takes a minimum commitment to self discipline. You are the only one that can do this, no one can do this for you. If you wonder why you never really achieve the things that you set out to do, constantly falling short of where you thought you want to be, you may need to re look at your habitual processes.
Self discipline does mean denying some short term gratification to gain a greater prize. For example, losing weight, is not the hard part of going on a diet, the hard part is maintaining the life style that will keep the weight off and keep you healthy long term.
Aiming high is fine, and having a resolution that you are going to stay committed to your goal no matter what is a great start.
Some ideas to get you started:
Work with in your means
- Set small tasks that can grow with time.
- You can never keep it up if you start with the bar set too high.
- Don’t just give in if you “fall off the wagon”.
- It’s okay to take a few steps forward then back.
Over the years I have seen many students stop training because they missed a couple of weeks training only to think as themselves as failures because they feel they have missed out on too much. I remember in my own training when I first started one of the senior students told me that if you quit you would never pick it up again. That’s the biggest load of BS but that is what many people hear, think then believe.
Make it long term.
Long term is far more enjoyable and easy to work with. Many suffer from “fire cracker syndrome” in every activity they start. There is a short intense period of terrific enthusiasm and then an abrupt stop.
It has taken me years to get my diet right. I simply could not do it all at once. Get the facts about what is healthy, there is just plenty of info around these days, don’t go cold turkey, just slowly start to reduce the bad stuff. The same goes for just about anything,
Create a habit of daily disciplines.
It’s the small wins that give you the greater confidence to improve and test the boundaries of your limitations. Doing 10 daily disciplines add up over days, weeks, months and years. Daily discipline will slowly wear down the negative bad habits. But as the word suggests, discipline is needed. (See below for suggestions)
When to quit?
I will just say here that sometimes quitting just may be your best option. If something is no longer giving you joy and happiness, is not fun and not empowering you or others involved then the path may no longer have a heart. Then it is time to move on.
It can take tremendous discipline to quit.
Your first 10 daily disciplines
These are pretty basic and you can adjust them to suit. I use variations of these.
- Every 2nd day set the alarm 15 minutes early. Do some basic movement and stretching, take the dog for a walk, or simply just water the garden.
- Have breakfast. Include berries and nuts in your breakfast. Add bran and/or psylium husks. Or just have a green smoothy.
- Have only one cup of coffee (if you want to go all out, make it a regular and not a large or every second day choose chai instead of coffee.)
- Leave the TV off in the morning.
- Take a mid morning 60 second recharge. Just stop, turn away from what you are doing and breathe into your stomach, expanding the stomach on the in breath and contracting the stomach on the out breath.
- Choose a salad sandwich with chicken or tuna on wholemeal bread. Avocado instead of butter, for lunch.
- Don’t watch the news or buy a paper for a week. See how you feel.If it is important enough some one will tell you.
- Watch what you say and how you say it. See how it impacts you and others.
- Raise the heart beat for at least 30 minutes, 3 times pure week. Walk fast, jog, swim or cycle. Your body will love you for it.
- The last thing you think about before you sleep will be the first thing you think about when you wake up. So be careful how you leave the day.
These are just some basic ways to start replacing bad habits with good daily rituals.