Do you want to have greater control of where you’re headed in life? Daily Discipline is the key difference between success and failure.
I want you to be actively engaged with your life. I want you to get better because I’ve loved getting better. Daily Discipline will become an unconscious habit. The total opposite of your New Year resolution list that doesn’t make it past the first month. This 10 minute routine makes it incredibly easy to make an effective plan for your day and examine why you want to do what you want to do.
If your day is crammed with productivity from the moment your eyes open to when they shut, then this isn’t for you. You don’t have the 10 minutes required to think about where you’re going. When I say productivity, I mean non-stop productivity, not the ‘busy’ excuse you give your friends. Otherwise, read on.
What is it?
Daily Discipline is routinely planning the days that will go on to become your life. I’ve been following this exact routine for the past month and have seen dramatic improvement in my focus. Einstein, Aurelius, Franklin, Edison, Da Vinci, Gaga. They all journal.
Life is here to be enjoyed, but enjoyed whilst being proactive. That’s so much hard work I hear you cry! Well, the choice is either hard work directed towards the life you want or the hard work of continually facing the life you don’t. Think post run high or a well earned pay-check. As Nietzsche famously said “One who has a ‘why’ to live for, can endure almost any ‘how.'”
Below, I’ve provided the framework for your Daily Discipline. Both this and meditation are simple daily practices that will give you compounding returns. The questions have been carefully phrased to challenge your motivations and uncover your blindspots. Print it out or answer using a notes app on your phone/computer.
Do this every day.
10 minutes, straight after you wake up (and pee.) That’s all it takes. This is brushing your teeth, only for your brain. Treat it as essential maintenance. The principle here is that you’re training your brain to be actively engaged with your life. Begin asking why you’re going to work or gorging your body with the food you choose Don’t stop asking why. Encourage this style of thinking instead of zombie walking through each day until you eventually wake up wondering where your entire life went.
Motivation is an outdated principle. We wait for motivation. Hardly the most active way to live your life. If you’re looking for an excuse though it’s perfect. You’re reading because you want to develop consistency. That’s why it’s a Daily Discipline. You make the time every morning, to plan how you want your day to go because it’s important, not because you feel you have to. You don’t always want to brush your teeth, but you understand it’s good for you (unless you’re in that 2% who don’t brush their teeth.)
The days make up the weeks, the weeks make up the years and the years make up your life. Make the time to focus on these small details because they eventually become the big details.
Now let’s break down each section.
This is were you let loose. Who’s annoying you? What kept you awake at night? What have you been up to this past 24 hours? What did you learn today? Your space to spill whatever is in your brain. Good or bad.
A journal is your virtual therapist. The simplest way to examine what’s going on in your brain. Much cheaper too. It’s the perfect place to vent those thoughts you aren’t comfortable sharing with your friends, or even your therapist. Combine this with a daily meditation practice and you’re well on your way to controlling harmful emotions and becoming a better communicator. When you know what you’re thinking, it’s much easier to understand how you handle scenarios, and why.
What’s my anti-goal for today?
If we can figure out what we don’t want, it’s easier to figure out what we do want. I don’t want to become morbidly obese. Knowing this makes it much easier to avoid feasting on pasta for every meal. For you, this could be doomscrolling social media, messaging your ex or whatever vice is screwing up any hope of progress.
Your anti-goal is what you don’t want to happen.
Why the why?
It’s one thing to decide what you want (or don’t want), it’s another trying to understand your reasoning for it. Everyone wants to buy a house but do they question why? “Renting is throwing money down the drain.” Yeah, whatever. The biggest financial commitment most people will make in their lives yet few question ask why or explore alternatives?
The why is all about you. It doesn’t matter what others think of your why but it must be clear to you. Michelle isn’t living your life. But you must understand your life, or at least attempt to. Maybe you don’t know why or you make up a why to fit the goal. That’s ok. The idea is that you begin to consciously think about your decisions and explore alternatives.
What can I appreciate now?
Call it what you will: gratitude, blessing, thankfulness, appreciation. There’s a hundred names for this principle. Simply put, what can you appreciate in this very moment (Aim to go a bit deeper than a warm bed and coffee.) Some days you might struggle to even acknowledge this but take a minute to actually think. You’ll be surprised at the volume of greatness in your first world life.
Appreciation and positivity come across as corny, there’s no way around these associations but it’s undeniable that being conscious of them enhances your life experience. This perspective is a necessary part of Daily Discipline for that very reason.
Area of focus
Each day, select one area to pay particular focus to. These are the cornerstones of a healthy life.
Diet: Can you be eating cleaner? Less? More? How about sugar? Alcohol? This is the fuel your body uses. Are you putting vegetable oil in a gas car?
Movement: Going for a walk? Lifting weights? Stretching? Yoga? Standing whilst you work? Can you bend down and touch your toes? Could you look up a video on stretches for that tight shoulder?
One task: Avoid the multi-tasking checklist mentality and focus on one task. All day.
Breath: Breath in and out through your nose. Breath deep and slow. Be conscious.
Mental wellbeing: Are you happy or stressed? If not, what gets you out of those zones? If you don’t know what books could help? Google is your friend.
Money: How are you spending money.?Could you be saving more? Are your bills paid? Research investment? Could you be enjoying your money more?
Relationships: Reach out and tell your family you love them. Spend more quality time with your kids. Do something your partner will appreciate, not a bottle of wine but a thoughtful gesture like cleaning the house.
Time management: Are you too busy? Or have too much time spent idling? Block time for relaxation or for working.
Other: Is there another area that deserves your focus? Write it here.
Problems should be seen as puzzles to be solved, not the end of the world. Engineers and Scientists spend their entire lives figuring out how to solve problems. That’s their job. It’s also your job, in your life.
Here, we are moving away from the idea that failure is embarrassing, preventing us from facing our fears. Examine the areas of your life that could be improved. Why your clothes never dry in less than 3 days or why your scrambled egg always tastes like rubber. Just maybe, there’s a better way! Is it possible you don’t have the best solution for every problem? Or that you haven’t even considered there being a solution? It may take an entire week to attempt to solve one simple problem. It may even take your entire lifetime. It could remain unsolved but the process alone engages your brain and exploring possibility opens your mind. Think like an Engineer.
Yesterdays success score
The final part of your Daily Discipline is rating the previous day. We are on a continual journey of reflection and refinement. It will never be perfect and that’s ok, nothing is. In that spare 5 minutes at the end of the day, you may even look back and see how you lived up to your hopes. Knowing you’re being conscious should help you sleep easier.
That’s it. 10 minutes a day and guaranteed to guide you on your way to a better life. It’s in your hands.