“My theme for this year is discipline, so any words of encouragement on that would be appreciated” – Linda

Every morning, my kids (the two still at home — the oldest is in college) wake up at 5:45 a.m., get ready for school, make themselves a healthy breakfast and leave the house on time to get to school (my middle son drives, so he leaves extra early to avoid traffic; my youngest son catches the bus).

I stay in bed. I was never an early-morning person anyway, and with all the stress of the past couple years, I couldn’t sleep and would be too exhausted to get up. I’d lay there feeling so incredibly grateful that my late husband and I, somehow, did a good job in letting the boys develop self-discipline. (I write ‘letting them’ and not ‘helping them’ because by not over-managing our children, the kids get to exercise and strengthen their willpower ‘muscle,’ which is responsible for self-discipline.)

Don’t get me wrong; it took me a while to stop feeling guilty about not fitting the usual definition of a ‘supermom,’ which would mean getting up before them to make them breakfast and pack healthy lunches for them. (And then begin my day with exercising, praying/ meditating and journaling – looking all put together like in those pretty Pinterest posts.) Realizing they needed me to be healthy more than they needed a picture of a ‘supermom,’ beautifully packed baby carrots and whole wheat sandwiches, I employed my willpower and self-discipline to stay in bed, sleep and allow my heart and my body to heal. 🙂

That’s the thing with willpower and discipline – it takes both self-awareness AND grit. We need to discern when to push through, and when to stop, rest and get replenished. Last year was not the time for me to play tough. I was in the process of healing, and I used my willpower to get me through it with gratitude and love. This year however, I’m back to a lot more disciplined and structured days.

And the kids? I was there to love them through it – providing a support system without which it’s a lot harder to have willpower. I allowed them to rest after school and on the weekends (by not putting more responsibilities on them) and made a nutritious meal each day to replenish their energy and their souls.

Recently, I read a few articles and watched a TEDx talk by Stanford University psychologist Kelly McGonigal and author of “The Willpower Instinct.” Here are a few of her tips on willpower and self-discipline:

  1. Self-discipline is driven by willpower. And willpower is fuelled by motivation (not instant gratification).
  2. Self-awareness is an important tool for working on your willpower and motivation.
  3. Give yourself permission to take small steps rather than think that there’s an ideal you need to reach.
  4. Have a support system that will keep you motivated.
  5. Stress, sleep deprivation and feeling guilty will kill your willpower. Reorganize your environment to reduce stress and reward yourself (as long as it doesn’t conflict with your goal).
  6. Have self-compassion and forgive yourself when you lapse. Then, reconnect with your goal and motivation behind it and keep going.

Hope this inspires you!

Now, enjoy a restful weekend and replenish yourself before you get back to your disciplined and driven work week 🙂

 

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