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.

  1. 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.
  2. Have breakfast. Include berries and nuts in your breakfast. Add bran and/or psylium husks. Or just have a green smoothy.
  3. 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.)
  4. Leave the TV off in the morning.
  5. 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.
  6. Choose a salad sandwich with chicken or tuna on wholemeal bread. Avocado instead of butter, for lunch.
  7. 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.
  8. Watch what you say and how you say it. See how it impacts you and others.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

Good luck


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  1. Liz on September 3, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    Hi Andy,
    Thankyou for your newsletter, I enjoy reading your blog.
    Rather than having disciplines for myself I do have rituals that I enjoy every day and I change these when I need to keep that enjoyment in my life.

    1) Up early to make the most of my day and have time to myself.
    2) Healthy breakfast to keep me going: oats, fruit, yoghurt, tea.
    3) Exercise doing something I love: run, walk, yoga, golf
    4) Always some quiet time to myself: includes mobile phone on silent
    5) I make the most of every day looking at the positives and enjoy what we have been given.

    I would love to meditate every day as well, I think it would add to my life but not sure how. Maybe in your blog sometime you can add something about meditation as I’m sure others who read this would also like to know how and where they could go to learn .

    The last thing I do say at night is that I love my bed and it is also definately the first thing I say when i get out of it so early in the morning.

    Enjoy the day! Thanks again Andy for your awesome blog.

    Cheers Liz

  2. andy on September 3, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    Thanks for the great comment Liz. Yes rituals are good, in fact anything that creates a positive habitual pattern. Will start on a meditation post.

    Thanks again.


  3. Sandy on September 3, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    These days I have to juice breakfast in order to get the dietary balance right. Plenty of berries, yoghurt for protein, a banana for glycogen and anything else that is lying around at the time. The best bit is that it makes the omega3 capsules go down easy (those who take fish oil will know what I mean). Now I am the worst when it comes to time management but it’s either this or not eat at all.
    Actually I seem to be ticking most of your boxes in the morning Andy but this is more about being organised in general. If the routine isn’t down then my 18 month old daughter stages a military coup.
    Actually I remember Brian Tracy stating that disciplined people are never really happy with their discipline – they’re always pushing the envelope, making improvements and getting more done.
    For me discipline is all about motivation. If I’m motivated then the discipline flows. The problem is that my motivation struggles when I take too much on, try to get too much done at once, take on more work when I should be focused on what’s in front of me.
    Am I too busy to get to class? Never. Do I tell myself that I have to get more work done before I can get to the dojo? Unfortunately, yes.

  4. andy on September 3, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    Excellent Sandy, thanks for taking the time to contribute. really great reminder that motivation and discipline go hand in hand.


  5. Catherine on September 4, 2009 at 3:21 am

    Enjoying the new site and comments here. Here’s my daily habits..

    1. iss my son and tell him I love him – oh yeah, my husband too..

    2. Take a moment or two each day to remember and to appreciate how fortunate I am

    3. Make sure I say hello to the people I work with – this might seem obvious but sometimes I’m so focussed on what I have to do I forget who I need to do it WITH!

    4. Spend some time with someone who makes me laugh – I’m pretty sure this is even better for my health than the Omega 3 capsules I sometimes take…

    5. Trust myself and take the long view – if I don’t train today, I know I will tomorrow or the next.

  6. andy on September 4, 2009 at 3:47 am

    Thanks Catherine, thanks for taking the time to comment. Great reminder about telling the people close to you that you love them, very important “daily discipline”.


  7. Selma on September 4, 2009 at 5:30 am

    Wake up earlier then everyone else.. there is something special in the sun rise and always eat a BIG breakfast – lots to burn during the day
    Set a general work plan and focus on the range of solutions not problems
    Make sure you get a decent 1h workout at least every second day
    Plan what you are having for lunch and dinner, drink water and more water, in the afternoon have fruit to boost glucose
    Spend spare time doing what you believe is important – spend time with loved ones, work for a good cause..
    Don’t be too “extravagant” in your attire

  8. Rach on September 4, 2009 at 8:39 am

    Nice post. Interesting. I am very disciplined in some things and shockingly undisciplined in others. Its easy to be disciplined in things I like and enjoy, its the stuff I don’t like or resist that are challenging. For me physical discipline is easy, exercise, diet, getting to work on time, walking the dog. But is that discipline? I like it, its my routine and easy for me. I rarely watch TV, i don’t read papers or magazines….
    However opening my mail on a regular basis, Keeping my space tidy, and now that i am aware, the discipline of monitoring my mind and my internal space, well thats a whole new regime!
    Consequently my daily rituals have adjusted

    1. Sit and be still for 2 minutes three times a day ( often two, just getting into three)
    2. Tidy my room (I know it sounds easy, but its definitely a tough one for me)
    3. Walk/Play with my dog(I love this but sometimes he misses out if time is pressing so i make it a ritual)
    4. Train: hard, slow, easy, tough, whatever i feel like doing but do something.
    5. Eat right. Every day.
    6. Be kind and have time for people. To all i meet and myself too (sorry, i lapse occasionally)
    7. Try and remember to constantly monitor my internal atmosphere. Adjust as necessary before carnage occurs ; )
    8. Pause and be Thankful for the wonderful life i have, my health, my family and my friends. I absolutely do this every day.

    There’s more but i already went over 5, see i can’t even discipline myself for that!

  9. Robin Dickinson on September 4, 2009 at 9:49 am

    Great post, Andy.

    My take on discipline is this. Inside each of us is an inner child – that sensitive, creative, cheeky, curious, vital, unruly part of our being that keeps us young, and can get us into big trouble.

    I think of this inner child as our ‘disciple’ – our student, adherent, follower – following our soul through life’s journey.

    Disciples respond to boundaries, limits and rules. Left to themselves, they run amok, out of control. They need to be nurtured, guided…”disciplined”.

    So discipline is the process by which we embrace, lead and guide our inner child (disciple) with boundaries and controls. Not in a way that crushes the child, but in a way that gives them the confidence to contribute to our wholeness – our oneness, in a positive way.

    Undisciplined inner children sabotage souls and destroy our sense of self.

    Discipline isn’t so much a choice, but a necessary development step of the unfolding soul-flower.

    Sorry to be long winded, but I wanted to throw some different thinking into the mix.

    Best, Robin

    • andy on September 4, 2009 at 7:13 pm

      Hi Rob,

      No I think its great to get a different slant. I agree with you and it can be the inner child that can be the over riding, powerful voice, that rules in many situations. Addressing that voice is a discipline in itself.


  10. Eat Smart Age Smart on September 4, 2009 at 5:06 pm


    Discipline is a simple word, but I can assure you one of the hardest to actually manifest in our lives.

    You really have to have a clear reason “why” you want to get certain things in your life in order to “keep keeping on day in day out”.

    Thanks Andy for a great post!

    • andy on September 4, 2009 at 6:20 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. You are right, it is hard to manifest and hard to change once we get “set in our ways”. And the good news is we can change when we really want to.

  11. Vaughan on September 9, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    The best ritual that I have committed to is to keep coming to class. There will always be “stuff” that will get in the way of your training – if you let it. Set aside the time and do the work – its a surefire way to get the results you want.
    Have a great day

  12. andy on September 10, 2009 at 5:38 am

    Excellent Vaughan, great work, finding a way to cut through the clutter and put things that are important to you first.

    Thanks for contributing.


  13. Jim Hardin on September 28, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    Hi Andy
    Such a great post. It reminds me of something that I have heard about visionaries. Visionaries create a vision of their goal in their mind and they acheive success because they can see their vision. People that are successful are visionaries because they see their future, actually have a mental picture in their mind of where they want to be, and they don’t let anything get in their way to achieve their vision. Take steps each day to get to your vision and don’t look back. A lot of people may quit along the way to their vision because the future is not familiar to them so it is easier to slip back into the present. By actually creating a mental picture of your vision in your mind will make it familiar to you and make it easier for you to get there.

    You have given me inspiration to keep moving toward my goal.
    Thank you

  14. andy on September 29, 2009 at 6:37 am

    Hi Jim,
    Thanks for the great comment. I love the idea of creating your own vision and working towards it, you put it really nicely.
    Really appreciate your contribution.

    Many thanks