Small, simple daily disciplines practiced each day become habits while also building up your willpower. That ‘s a huge benefit in a tiny package!
Self-regulation (or willpower) is one of the most important strengths to develop. [Miller 91] In fact, developing other strengths often depends on our practicing them when we don’t really want to. In other words, by using willpower.
An interesting thing about the strength of self-regulation is this: it can be strengthened over time . . . you improve self-control by exercising self-control. Self-regulation or self-control, what we call willpower, is like a muscle. As you use it, it gets tired and becomes depleted. But it can also be made stronger, much as a muscle works. One way to develop the practice of self-regulation is by pursuing the small, simple daily disciplines that lead to success.
The Two Easies
Simple daily disciplines, Jeff Olson informs us in The Slight Edge, are small, productive actions repeated over time. These small actions repeated consistently eventually bring success. On the other hand, small errors in judgement – neglecting these simple daily disciplines – repeated over time, leads to failure and disappointment. Simple daily disciplines are, as Jim Rohn tells us, easy to do but equally easy not to do.
The slight edge, says Olson, is at work every day. Either it is working for you or it is working against you. It depends entirely on what you choose to do. Or choose not to do.
Fortunately, choosing to follow a few small, simple daily disciplines is also a proven way to build your willpower “muscle”. Just as exercise makes your physical muscles stronger, exercising your willpower can make it stronger as well. The key is consistency.
What daily disciplines will help you reach your goals? It depends on the goal of course and also on our individual inclinations. Here is a sampler to get your thinking started. Use these to prime the pump and get your own ideas flowing.
- Don’t eat until you are hungry.
- Drink 64 oz. of water each day.
- Aim for 60 minutes of physical activity each day – even in 5 minute increments.
- Pack your lunch for work and put the money you would have spent into a savings account.
- Turn off e-mail notifications and check e-mail only at specific times during the day.
- Eat a fruit and a vegetable at every meal.
- Learn something new each day and note it in your journal.
- Read something inspirational or spiritually uplifting each day.
Go For A Double Win
Small, simple daily disciplines pay off in a couple of ways. They help you progress in your self-development and goal achievement. They also serve as exercise for the willpower muscle. Any activity you repeat and track daily can help strengthen your self-discipline and willpower. When you select a small, simple daily discipline as the activity to repeat, you are getting a double win.
Don’t depend on your abilities of self-regulation to remain strong all day. By learning the mechanics of how willpower works, you can conserve it so that it’s available for emergencies and important decisions. And by taking controlled measures to use it when you don’t want to and to exercise it regularly, you can make this important strength even stronger. Any action, repeated consistently day by day, is beneficial but why not tap into the power of selecting and completing the small, simple daily disciplines that will compound your growth? That is embracing the Excelerated Life!
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Excelerated willpower — becoming highly self-regulated — is one step in creating your Excelerated life, a life of well-being, meaning, and purpose.
Miller, MAPP, Caroline Adams and Michael B. Frisch. Creating Your Best Life. New York: Sterling, 2009
Olson, Jeff. The Slight Edge. Austin, TX: Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2005-2013