Why *discipline* is the wrong approach

Posted Ella Villas Articles

Rules will be broken.

Whether it comes to swimming, training, diet, or something else in your life, typically, traditional hard-nosed discipline can only get you so far.

Your brain is wired to do things in a certain way.

If you try forcing yourself to do or not do something, this can be an effective approach to obtaining a short term goal.

For example:

-“I will make it to the pool 5 times this week”
-“I will skip dessert for a week”
-“No alcohol this month”
-“I will only check social media once per day”

All of these are achievable goals that most people can do, even if it means “gutting it out”

But all of these will often end up failing to achieve the bigger, long term goal.


Because of this brain wiring.

After depriving ourselves or forcing ourselves into a new way of doing things, we are likely to have a rebound effect- and go whole hog into whatever we were skipping before.

For example, there are these “tech break” retreats where you leave your phone and all technology at home, and go camping for a few days. Sounds like a great idea, right?

Well the studies have shown that people come back from these retreats and go overboard on technology for a few days after, “catching up” on email, Facebook, Instagram, etc.

We are wired to do things the way we have been doing them.

The way you create the kind of discipline you want- the kind that creates results and puts things on autopilot, instead of continually getting on and off the proverbial wagon, is to start extremely small.

You can call it mini-habits, or just making things doable to complete.

Here are the steps to take when you’re wanting to rewire yourself for better outcomes:

1) Decide what the end result you want is. Let’s say it’s daily exercise.

2) Pick something that is incredibly easy for you to accomplish, to the point where when you think about it, you chuckle. For example, taking a 5 minute walk every day. Or even smaller. “Put on running shoes” is a good one. These are good places to start creating the new habit.

3) Set up a simple spreadsheet or even handwritten chart, and every day you accomplish your new habit, put a check mark by it. Do this for 4 weeks straight. You never have to do anything more than your original goal.

At the end of the 4 weeks, you will have a new habit created! Your brain has been rewired.

You can do this with anything in life, and in a few weeks, you’ll be doing it without “self discipline” or beating yourself up to make it happen. It’s all about this consistency vs. trying to do everything and being disappointed with yourself when you “fail” to accomplish your lofty goals.

What do you want to accomplish this year, and next? Start the easy process of rewiring, let go of traditional ideas of discipline and finally do what you set out to do!