[dropcap]P[/dropcap]ushups. These are ugly and torturous things, devised by mankind to torment those who are weak shouldered and long-armed. Pushups are both the ultimate total upper-body workout and the seminal destroyer of confidence and pride. In fact, as I write this post my left pec is screaming at me every time I hit a key from the letter “G” on over, and that’s after eeking out a child-size portion of pushups. (If you’re looking for 35 ways to torture yourself, click here.)
Pushups also happen to be one of the core exercises in my new workout plan, P90X. For those who are unfamiliar with this program, punch yourself in the face six times and then drink a glass of bleach. How do you feel? That’s how I felt after only my first day. But I have done this workout many times before and strongly believe in its ability to whip even the weakest person into shape in a little more than a month. Funny thing is, much like every other workout program on the planet that promises amazing results, the exercises are nothing you probably haven’t seen before. But, as with most people, I’m always on the lookout for a new way to get in shape, to minimize the chance of failure, and to save time while achieving the desired result.
The irony is that “new and improved” ways of doing things either 1) don’t work or 2) rely on basic and timeless principles that are proven to lead to success. P90X is really just a well-organized grouping of basic exercises that are led by an extroverted and ultra-tan guy named Tony. And this formula isn’t confined to workout programs. The root of any plan of this kind is the same, whether you’re wanting to write a book, start a new business, get in shape, shake an addiction, make more money, or avoid that late-night bowl of Lucky Charms. But the key to actually getting the desired results is discipline, or the ability to get yourself to take action regardless of your emotional state. Nothing gets done without discipline, no matter the size of the task. You can buy every workout plan, success book, or self-development program on the market but you will never progress without crossing the threshold from being stagnant to moving forward, and that takes discipline. Discipline is also the key to doing what you love for a living. Discovering your passion is the first step but discipline is the fuel that powers you to success in whatever you choose to do. A new job isn’t going to get you where you want to go, but discipline will.
So how do you develop more self-discipline? To be honest, I’m still figuring it out myself. But one thing has become clear to me based on my experience with P90X this morning. It’s all about the first five minutes. Or, as Tony from P90Pain says, “Just keeping pressing play.” When that alarm went off at 6am this morning I wilted in my bed. “Nothing short of Dave Matthews standing by my bedside and screeching in my ear in his annoying falsetto voice,” I told myself, “was going to get me out of bed. I can’t get up. I’m too tired. I know I need to get in shape, but there’s nothing worse than working out when it’s dark. Blah blah blah.” The self-talk persisted for about five minutes before I finally manned up and literally threw myself out of bed. I knew if I didn’t get up at that moment I wouldn’t get up tomorrow, or the next day, or a month from the next day. One hour later I was glad I did (okay, more like 5 hours later I was glad, after the nausea subsided).
As I reflected on this today, on getting up and getting it done, I realized the key. Those first five minutes of self-talk were pivotal. Getting myself out of bed was clutch. But defeating those first five minutes was even more important. And now I’m developing more than a chiseled, Hulk-like body — I’m developing discipline. You see, forcing yourself to do hard things builds self-discipline. The more you do it, the more control you have over your life and over that adversarial voice in your head. And, I believe the principle holds true for virtually any goal you have. Like Woody Allen said, “Eighty percent of success is just showing up.”
So prepare yourself for the first five minutes. Just now, as my kids were going to bed, I told myself that I was about to have a choice pop up in the first five minutes after they went to sleep. I could either A) turn on the TV and sink into the couch like a worthless blob or B) write a blog post and share what I’ve learned to benefit others. Everything in my mind was screaming “BE UNPRODUCTIVE” but I knew that I would feel better if I showed some discipline and wrote this post. Sure enough, I feel great, and now I can feel like a productive blob as I flip through channels.
So pay attention to the self-talk, and in particular to the noise in your head during the first five minutes of decision-making. It may make all the difference in the end. As I was laying on the ground this morning, face down and nauseated, recovering from my self-punishment, Tony from P90Awful left me with these words that are appropriate to close out this rant: “Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is your body.” As cliche as it sounds, it’s true. Just keep showing up. That’s the key.
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Hi! I'm Dustin.
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