Running to build up
There’s something about self-discipline that makes it hard to develop. You’ll read all over the internet that self-discipline develops like a muscle. That you can train it, and that it wears off when you don’t use it.
I would like to say I have been quite self-disciplined in the past and that for some unknown reason I am not anymore, but that would be, well… you know, lying.
I have never been very self-disciplined. As far as I can remember, I have always been a kind of “last minute hero”. You probably know other people like me. I actually have a hard time pushing myself doing something whenever no hard pressure pushing me. But when the deadline approaches, I suddenly feel that the time has come to start. Just like if someone would push me against a wall, put a gun to my head and say “do your f***ing work already”. As soon as I begin to work, nothing can stop me. In these moments, I truly become a work beast. I am fully focused, highly efficient, and I can get tons of things done in no time.
The result / effort ratio has always been impressive and quality has always been sufficient so I could get away with it. For boring and pointless work, such as school projects or things I should never have accepted to do, this is fine. But as a matter of fact, that way of working does not lead to excellence. And when I apply it to projects I care about, to things that are meaningful to me, I always end up disappointed, because I know I could have done better, had I taken the time to do things right rather than fast.
Fast just does not always work
Moreover, there are many things that just can not be achieved this way. Physical fitness for example. I do not consider myself really unfit, but I could do so much better. So I started to run. And I stopped. Countless times. I love the way it feels when I stop running but starting and running are the hardest. And I do not have the self-discipline to push myself through that.
Solve problems through action
So I decided to tackle the problem and build up self-discipline. Actually, I plan to build a habit, which, I think is more or less the same. Starting tomorrow, I will run at least twenty minutes a day. Distance and pace do not matter as long as I keep running twenty minutes. Twenty minutes is more than easy. So easy that in fact, I have no excuse not to do it.
It’s raining ? That’s not an excuse. There’s a warm shower and dry clothes waiting. It’s cold ? Not an excuse, the body warms up when running. Don’t have time today ? How about the time spent on facebook ? Was it more valuable ? I don’t think so. Too tired? Running makes me feel so much more awake. The only valid excuses are severe injuries and death.
I currently run at about 6 min per km. 140 minutes each week should make me run about 23 km each week. Not that distance or pace matters, but hell, that is so much more than I have done at any point in the past. And all of that easily… if I can manage to exercise enough willpower to open the door and make the first step every single day. That sounds totally doable.
Let’s do it.
I expect that in several weeks from now, I will have built 1) a running habit, 2) a better physical fitness, and last but not least, 3) the self-discipline required to push myself to consistently do something I have actively chosen even at times when I don’t feel like doing it.