Most people have great intentions. You want to create a routine that sticks. But 99% of the time, no matter how hard you try, your routine never hangs on. What’s the secret ingredient that helps you actually keep up with your routine? In this episode, we talk about the one habit that’ll not only make your routines stick, but it’ll also make your life easier.
Below is the podcast version of this article. The podcast explains things so much better than a blog post. I invite you to listen and also hear some examples and enjoy some laughs! Subscribe to the Podcast by opening your favorite podcast app and typing “Balanced Working Moms” into the search or click here for a link to the podcast on iTunes.
Systems and Routines are Foundational
You know that to be balanced, one of the most important things you need are systems and routines.
Without these tools, life dissolves into a chaotic mess.
You don’t know when to get things done. And everything feels more difficult.
And no one’s perfect. We all wish we had better systems and routines and we’re always tweaking them.
And today we’re going to talk about one of the most important parts of creating your routine.
And that is discipline.
Because without disciple, you’ll never actually do the routine.
Discipline gets a bad rap.
It’s not a word that brings to mind sunshine and rainbows.
But I’ve learned that discipline, when embraced, can be incredibly freeing.
How I Discovered the Benefits of Discipline
Last year I chose a word for my year. The word I chose was EASIER.
And it was like I jinxed myself. Last year, nothing felt easier. It felt heavy. Hard. No matter how much journaling and tweaking I did, my life did not feel EASIER.
In early December, I gave up on my word. And interestingly, just as I gave up on it, I learned why I couldn’t seem to make life easier.
The reason why I couldn’t make things easier was because I was looking at life the wrong way.
What if I tried what appeared to be the opposite of easier and instead became very disciplined?
I did an experiment.
I took off work for the whole day and wrote a schedule on what I’d do for the entire day. Every hour was accounted for.
I scheduled what time I’d walk. What time I’d do a little work, when I’d eat.
And what surprised me was how freeing this was.
All my to-do’s got done.
I followed my schedule. I rested when my schedule said to rest. I worked when my schedule told me to work.
And at the end of the day, everything I wanted to do got done and I had a GREAT day.
The right brain in me was so confused.
How can this level of discipline be a good thing?
It’s a good thing
For the rest of the month of December, I experimented with discipline
I didn’t plan my whole day, but I’d plan a few hours.
I’d plan when I’d work on my podcast.
When I’d take a walk.
And you know what happened?
My to-do list got smaller. I felt more relaxed. Life felt easier.
True story. I cannot make this up.
What I learned from this is the importance of discipline.
No one will fight it more than me. I love the part of me that’s fluid and open to spur-of-the-moment fun.
But the heaviness of my to-do list was causing me a lot of energy leaks. It made my life feel overwhelming.
And I learned that by being more disciplined, it actually freed me.
I had more time to create fluid plans.
I had more time to rest.
I was getting things done so my to-do list didn’t feel like a burden.
My whole life changed when I started embracing discipline.
How Can You be More Disciplined
Let’s talk about your relationship with discipline.
Does the word make you break out in a sweat, like it used to do for me?
Or is it something you admire?
I invite you to revisit your relationship with discipline.
If artsy me can start loving it, do you think you can start dipping your toe in?
It’ll Help You with Your Routines
When you think about it, discipline is the unspoken prerequisite you need when creating your routines.
Let’s say you create a routine to do a load of laundry every night after dinner.
Without discipline, you’ll be hitting the couch instead.
And of course, some days you should forget the laundry and absolutely hit the couch. If you’re extremely tired or you have a headache. You know I don’t teach killing yourself to get things done. Quite the opposite.
But if you hit the couch every single day, you’re not going to have a laundry routine.
And your laundry mountain will grow and that won’t feel great.
Your discipline doesn’t have to be perfect.
But what I’m finding is that the more I embrace it and I stick to it, the easier life feels.
It’s such a great feeling to know that things are getting done.
Test it Out
I invite you to give it a try and test it out.
Create a routine and use discipline to get it done.
If you find that every single night, like in our example, you hit the couch instead of the laundry machine, you know what that shows?
It’s not a good routine.
If you can’t be disciplined (for the most part) it doesn’t mean something’s wrong with you. Instead, it’s a red flag that your routine needs tweaking.
When I’m working with a client and she tries really hard to stick with a routine she created and she’s not able to, it shows me there’s probably something that needs to change about the routine.
Discipline Is a Good Thing
I hope this message inspired you to embrace that part of your personality that thrives on discipline.
I know it can be hard if you see yourself as someone who loves to be spur-of-the-moment and flexible.
It’s interesting how the more disciplined you are, the more time and energy you’ll have to be more flexible and enjoy your life.
It’s so ironic.
I’ll be the first to admit how surprised I was that discipline actually made my life feel easier. But there it is.
May you continue to create life that’s full of balance and feels easier. Even if the way to make it easier seems so contradictory.