A Bird On My Window Part 2

Habit or Discipline? What am I missing?

Our habits might make our sweat looks like discipline. But it that so?

Exercise Sucks

I reckon I’ve been tired most part of life! The obvious outcome of restlessly going about multiple tasks with a sense of urgency that has more to do with “time’s running out”, than being happy or productive. Like the sparrows in my window; I can be in constant “fluttering and pecking.” Sure, you know the feeling!

Do we really lack discipline, or do we burn our discipline ammunitions unwisely? What if my bird decided it was too cold to go looking for food? What if the storm had lasted more than a day?

I can’t say I know anything about the wild bird’s feeding habits, but the reflection bears the question: what do birds know that I take for granted?

If we consider our almost addiction to our familiar routines and habits, we could indeed say we are highly disciplined. about our habits; but “all” of them, good and bad!  Try building upon a new “good habit” or changing a bad one! It’s a tough call, even for strong-willed person as myself.

What’s a habit anyway?

A habit is as a settled or regular tendency (or practice), especially one that is hard to give up. Anyone who’s struggled to give up a habit knows that.

Discipline, on the other hand; seems to be based on our ability to repeatedly leave our comfort zone, Discipline is related to the flexibility it takes to abandon an immediately-gratifying behavior for a more frightening one.

“We become what we repeatedly do.”
Sean Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens”

A habit change then, requires an uncomfortable identity shift

“Great!”
“Couldn’t that bird fly elsewhere?”
“Yes, blame the messenger!”
“Get out of my head!”
“Girl, would you like that!”

  1. Motivation is not reliable; the ebbs and flows of our moods can let us off the hook.
  2. Will can get us just so far.
  3. Resistance is directly proportional to the change we want to make or the goal we want to achieve. We are constantly buffering it.
  4. Dependency. Our old habits are ingrained after years of practicing. We believe once our new behaviors become automatic we can turn our autopilot on, sit back and relax. Wrong! Even though behaviors become automatic, that doesn’t mean they no longer require conscious thought, we need to be engaged while practicing them.

In English, please!

Let’s say that my goal is to write 250 words every day. I prepare my morning coffee and sit comfortably with my laptop; I open a blank/working word document (not my emails or Facebook page). This is my “CUE.”

I begin writing -or counting words on a bad day- and even if my writing that day is just gibberish, I meet the 250 words; I kept my “ROUTINE.”

On a given day I cue myself in and start my routine and in word 125 -or after 15 minutes looking at my blank page-  I get a phone call from my boss telling me to please pick her up from the airport, her car won’t start! Saved by the bell.  DISCIPLINE shows up when I start filling that blank page or continue into the 125 words I have left as soon as I return home. No excuses.

Here’s the rub.

Motivation is what gets us started and habit is what keeps us going; but, is discipline what takes us above and beyond. To acquire habits that reinforce what we want to be, how we want to contribute and where we want to go, we need to make the necessary identity shift that supports the shift in our minds, body, and hearts; otherwise, we will be prey to the habit loop.

Habits and Identity Shifts

For change to happen, we need to believe is possible, and moreover, that it is possible for us. The person we are today might not stick to a new habit, but the person we can become would!

If you are as stubborn as me about proving to the world and ourselves, we are worthy of our “perceived” traits then, you might fail to achieve a specific result -like losing weight or running 2 miles- but If you consider yourself, the more athletic one in your family or the eat-healthy kind of person and you start to gain weight or becoming a couch potato, something in you won’t go down without a fight, because your identity is being threatened.

After many months away for work, I finally had the opportunity to visit with friends in the occasion of a birthday party. It was a small reunion, but almost everyone there had a big turnaround in their diets and exercise habits. They all look fantastic! One of the ladies commented that she wouldn’t allow her sister to beat her on her goal of losing weight and it hit me. I am supposed to be the healthy and slender one! I had taken for granted my body’s genetics and age, and I wasn’t happy with how I felt that day. Boy, did I go on a “making this right spree” to get me back on track after that!

Identity matters and little changes, done on a consistent basis do, become habits. 

Good luck!

Image Credit: Exercise Sucks – http://pixdaus.com/exercising-sucks-animals-birds-wildlife/items/view/13133/

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