How much of our behaviour is driven by habits? How much is driven by self-discipline? What happens when habits and self-discipline intersect each other?
Or maybe I should be asking what happens when the overlap between habits and self-discipline increase?
Each of the habits I’m curating and nurturing at the moment are designed to bring some benefit: Exercise makes me feel empowered, meditation synchronises my thinking with my values, reading a chapter of non fiction teaches me, recording my timesheet gives clarity over my business, and walking up early gives me time to prepare my mind and body for the day ahead.
After last night (I stayed up waaaay too late reading fiction), a new habit I’ll be introducing is to stop reading by 9pm. This will give me the best chance of getting enough sleep.
Sleep, I’ve earned, is as vital to our success as eating or drinking. It’s when our brains do the tidying, repair and filing of what we’ve learned and experienced throughout the day. Sleep is our most effective learning tool. It makes self-discipline and good judgements easy, and protects our bodies from infection and disease.
I’ve chosen each of my new habits because in some way they make my life easier. Yes, they require self-discipline, but what I’m learning is that self-discipline is almost a habit in itself. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. So, by practicing self-discipline, we’re effectively making it easier to be self-disciplined later on.
So maybe, rather than worry about whether I’m doing each habit each day, I could gain just as much benefit by focusing on practicing the self-discipline (by doing those habits) throughout the day.
“Practice yourself, for heavens sake, in little things: and thence proceed to greater.” ~ Seneca