We can easily say that discipline is one of the core tenets of any martial art. It is the one thing that can get the ball rolling so you can begin making progress and improvements in all aspects of life, whether you dream of achieving specific goals in your fitness and martial arts training, or you want to be successful in school, at work, or in your own personal growth. Practicing discipline is what can set us on the right path to whatever we put our minds to.
We do, however, understand that starting out at anything as a beginner can be difficult, and discipline training is no exception. We have all been there, but by practicing the following tips and exercises in your day to day life and valuing yourself and the journey you are on, you will soon be reaching and surpassing your goals and getting the results you have been dreaming of.
The Benefits of Being Disciplined
The process of becoming disciplined can teach us a lot about ourselves. We learn exactly where our strengths lie and where they do not, and quite often we turn out to be stronger than we initially thought. This process also helps us to overcome our weaknesses and difficult experiences, and to become motivated to try harder; which directly impacts how successful we can be in almost any aspect of life both within and outside of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu/martial arts, and physical fitness.
Mentally, being disciplined has been shown to improve one’s self-confidence since we learn to be self-reliant and to trust in our own abilities. This confidence then translates into a better general work ethic, better choices relating to exercise, diet, and future aspirations, and the ability to set and accomplish life goals that take us where we want to go in life.
Our Tips on Becoming Disciplined
1 – Start out slowly
When you start out exercising or doing martial arts, if you do too much too fast then you will become overloaded, injured, and won’t be able to maintain that level of work for long. The same goes when building discipline.
We don’t expect anyone to become the grandmaster of self-control and discipline in a week. Start out slowly with small tasks at first, such as making your bed every morning as soon as you wake up, and training at a specific, set time of day. Stick to those specific routines, develop a little bit of discipline over a few weeks, and then begin adding other routine tasks to your repertoire, such as eliminating unhealthy foods and scheduling housework tasks that have been ignored.
2 – Identify Your Motivations
From the start, be honest with yourself and define what motivates you. Maybe you want a change in lifestyle to benefit your mental health, or maybe you just want to work on your physical health and strength. No matter what it is your motivation needs to be something meaningful to you. Set goals based around your main source of motivation and envision yourself achieving those goals, how you will achieve them and how great it will feel once you achieve those goals. This is going to help give you direction and motivation so that you know at all times where you need to be heading and what needs to be done. Design a plan on what is required by your goals and how you are going to work towards them.
Sometimes when you run out of motivation you can use other people as sources of motivation by telling yourself that you are doing X for your kids, your friends, your partner, etc. Connecting your goals with the important people in your life is a great way of strengthening your resolve and making the outcome of your goals more relevant.
3 – Identify Negative Behaviors
Negative behaviors are the things that we all do which get in the way of achieving our goals. They can be cheeky midnight snacks or sitting down and not training out of boredom or laziness. They can even be negative thought patterns, such as telling yourself that you aren’t good enough at something and therefore shouldn’t even try out of a fear of failure.
The aim here is not to be harsh or to punish yourself for self-defeating behavior. Be kind and focus on how you deserve to achieve your goals rather than focusing on how you haven’t been able to in the past.
Visualize how these behaviors are going to play out in the future to prevent you from reaching your goals and how they are hurting you, and acknowledge that these behaviors are toxic and need to stop. It’s hard to stop all of the negative behaviors at once, so focus on gradually eliminating them one at a time over a few weeks or months, and keep your end goal in mind the entire time.
4 – Routine
Sticking to a routine gives you a reason to not mess around, and the more a routine becomes engrained into you, the easier it is to stick to. Routine and discipline go hand in hand, because routine gives us a framework and tells us what we need to be doing, which then gives us an opportunity to practice our discipline in order to complete the task at hand, regardless of how we are feeling in that moment.
Even if you are unmotivated, wake up at the same time in the morning, make your bed, eat at least 3 meals a day at set times, set your specific times for work, exercise, play, and relaxation, and go to sleep at the same time every night. This also includes maintaining your hygiene and personal appearance every day.
By practicing doing what is needed based on a routine rather than on how we feel at the time, we shift the basis of our actions away from emotion and impulse, and towards thoughtfulness and clear intent and purpose. This is a key aspect of being disciplined.
5 – Be Mindful of Impulses and Urges
Our minds are going to urge us to stop and quit, or to procrastinate and do whatever we have set for ourselves later. One mindfulness exercise we can use is to set one specific task for a 10-minute period. We can then easily identify when our mind starts to wander and practice bringing our mind back to the task instead of getting easily distracted.
If it’s far too difficult to return to your chosen task by force, then instead of going to another, more engaging activity, sit in silence and do nothing so that your only options are to do your task, or sit doing nothing. This will help you to identify and become mindful of your impulses while also training you to focus on the task at hand.
Remember, practicing discipline is like physical training; you can’t learn everything all in one go. Create your basic routine that reflects your goals and motivations and stick to the basics of your routine first. Begin adding to your routine and slowly changing your lifestyle for the better over time, the exact same way as you would when doing physical training or learning a martial art, and keep your goals in mind so you know what direction you want to move in.