What are discipline deposits? I have been discussing this term now for the last few years primarily around the topic of goal setting. All goals, long and short term require discipline. I would go so far as to say discipline is the key to true happiness.
Discipline deposits are the act of making small consistent deposits of discipline in your life to eventually create solid habits that channel you directly towards your goal without much conscious effort once the habit is created.
When do we first hear of discipline?
The most important part of discipline is self-discipline. I think too often when we hear the word discipline we think of something like martial arts for kids, the military, or “disciplinary action” in the workplace. When you talk to kids about discipline in most cases it is considered a negative. I think in our society we are giving discipline a bad name to our children so they struggle to grasp the value of self-discipline as an adult when they need it the most.
Teaching your children early.
I came up with Discipline Deposits as an idea for my children to learn about the value of self-discipline. I wanted to teach them about how good you feel when you do what you know is right in your life and how it pays you back bigger later. For example, my 9-year-old son plays soccer and we practice or play like four days a week. Sometimes he comes home and it’s like a soccer bomb went off. His ball in the bathroom, shin guard in the laundry room, a cleat in my truck and so on. This can be a nightmare for me and him when getting ready for the next soccer event.
Eventually, I decided to stop helping him gather his stuff and run around like a crazy person. I requested that he put everything away in an organized manner every single time, no exceptions, no excuses. I explained I am no longer going to assist with the hunt for soccer stuff. After a couple days of getting to soccer practice late and having to explain to the coach why he was late, he finally got it together. We discussed that the good feeling of doing the small task right was way better than the bad feeling of negative result, being late, rushing around stressed out, etc. Eventually it becomes a habit, he doesn’t have to even think about it. He just does it.
As loving parents, we want to do it all for our kids and that is a terrible mistake. Really, we don’t want to deal with embarrassment of telling the coach why we were late or the school that we are late because our child was being unorganized. The pain of the lessons now is nothing like the pain they may deal with later in life if they don’t learn the discipline. This activity carries right over in the conversation for adults with our “Discipline Deposits”.
How disciplined are you as an adult?
Adults I think have different goals, but I one common goal is that we want to be happy. I like to start there because no one really argues that being happy is not their goal. Next it is important to look for a few areas in your life that you might not be happy with and want to improve. For example, weight loss is always an easy one to discuss. If you start only eating and drinking healthy choices, getting exercise in daily you will lose weight. More importantly you will have new lifestyle habits that will force consistent change so that you never slip back into the overweight unhappy place you were before.
It is a beautiful thing when your new comfort zone is now a place previously thought to be scary, uncertain and required lots of effort to execute. You have now created a new standard of living for yourself and anything less would not only make you feel uncomfortable, but you already have the certainty that you will be unhappy there so you stay on track!
When you begin to invest in almost anything there is a certain time in the beginning when you do not see the return. I think in most cases people choose not to even invest in things (themselves) because the return seems unattainable or so far in the future that we fall victim to the short-term gratification of not making the “deposit”.
One way I have been able to help people get more productive on their goals in life is doing my 90 day NO ALCOHOL challenge. If you are a regular drinker you can definitely benefit from this process. Let me give you an extreme, but real example and then you can see if you sometimes fall victim to parts of this cycle.
You come home from the job you dislike, have a couple drinks, eat some unhealthy food, watch television programs that make you angry or depressed, have a couple more drinks, have a snack you know isn’t good for you, stay up late watching more junk TV. Wake up and hit the snooze a couple times because you stayed up so you now must rush to get ready, skip breakfast or grab something unhealthy on the way into work or at work. Slug through a day at the job you hate. Eating a garbage lunch as a reward for making it half way through the day. Leave work and hit up a drive thru of some sort on your way home to scarf down before you crack open that reward beer or bottle of wine for making through the day and the cycle continues… That is your “habit”.
Does any of this sound familiar? It is amazing how pulling alcohol out of this scenario and even out of much less sever scenarios can really benefit. When you remember that we usually drink alcohol to lower our inhibitions it really all makes sense. If your goals are to eat clean, get to bed early, go to the gym, get extra work done or start a side project, alcohol will literally lower the chances of you accomplishing those things.
Discipline is the answer to your happiness!
I have seen people remove that evening drink or two and replace that time with a goal focused activity and succeed every time! Once you continue these “discipline deposit” in your day you start creating a new habit and the results keep pouring in!
If you have some more question around “Discipline Deposits”, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org . You can also sign up for our newsletter to stay in the loop on speaking engagements and our 90-day challenge getting started at the beginning of the year.