When I think about discipline, I think of following a tight schedule. Following rules. Following my rules. Must follow my own rules, otherwise I won’t make it…

This voice in my head is louder and more strict, when my stress levels are high. Actually it is not fun at all, to give my self all kind of tasks and applying rules. Not at work, not at home, and also not during exercise.

Take running as an example. I’d like to improve my physical fitness, rhythm, and discipline (..), so I created a running-schedule. Three times a week, training towards a goal of 10km in 1h:05min. That is not too ambitious, I thought. But adhering to the schedule was harder than expected. I’m not only running to boost my physical fitness. I also go running when my head is full after a busy day, when my neck is tense, when I’m grumbling, having no motivation, or when I’m tired.

Recently I had a few busy weeks at work. I took over some tasks from a colleague during holiday period. A chaotic and challenging experience. I learned many new things, my days were both fun and intense. I needed a lot of running time to lower my stress levels, to be able to naturally fall a sleep at night. The discipline I needed then was totally different. I’m doing a good job if I can avoid the comfy couch at home and force myself into my running shoes. So, there I went while it was 30 degrees outside (or heavily raining) towards the park. Then I hear my running-app talking to me: “You train for 7 km today”, “Your pace is 30 seconde too slow…”. Well, my legs were limp and heavy. I felt side stitches. Had no energy. I didn’t even make it to the park entrance yet!

By the time I reached 2km, while I was 2 minutes slower than my target pace, I decided: screw my schedule. I went on strike. Let me run just to clear my head! I told myself I only have to go running for 3 km, no matter the pace. After that I’m free to choose. And the fun thing is: I’m extending my route with another 3 km, my pace is comfortable and increasing, I’m enjoying nice music. This is how I like running!

I’m doing way better if I temper my expectations. The stupid thing is: I’m kidding myself and I know it. Every time I dread going for a run, I tell myself: it’s only 3 km, as slow as you want. And every time I do go, I do it with more motivation, and run further. This is how my new discipline is born: the discipline to take care of myself, the discipline to let go, and the discipline to do what I like most



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