By: Eric Betts
Discipline matters as we begin this new year in 2023. Many, now that January has passed, are already thinking about letting go of their resolutions. Many are discouraged because they were not able to keep their commitments and have already decided to revert back to their old habits.
One of the problems and mistakes that are made with when it comes to launching into a new beginning is that sometimes we can try to do too much too soon. Whenever I see others trying to better themselves, it always inspires me, but I always encourage them to start out with small commitments and work their way up. In other words, doing too much in the beginning often leads to despair and the urge to quit good habits before they form. You may be trying to launch a new project, to read certain number of books, to begin an exercise or a dietary program. I want to encourage you to start off small and build momentum as you go. This is what creates discipline.
One area that I like to emphasize is adopting the two-minute rule. What do I mean by two-minute rule? For example, someone gets on an exercise program by trying to set aside two hours or even one hour for their workouts. What often happens after they begin the day-to-day workouts is that some days their schedules are more crowded than other days. What happens on those busy days is that they recognize that it takes them one hour to two hours to exercise, and they realize that they do not have enough time to do that exercise. Sometimes, one may be mentally exhausted before the exercise and become overwhelmed by the thought of having to go through the two-hour routine. Therefore, because of the perceived burden or inconvenience, they forego the exercise for that day. Subsequently, the cycle continues for several more days and then suddenly they will go and entire week without exercising. The two-minute rule says that rather than committing to exercising for an hour to two hours a day to keep it to two minutes only. This helps the brain to not be overwhelmed by the amount of time that it thinks it would take to exercise. When the schedule is tighter, commit to doing just a two-minute drill. Read perhaps one or two pages of that book. Rather than exercising for long durations, commit to about 20 calf raises.
When it comes to diet, start off with something simple such as adding a few more carrots to your plate or regular meal rather than preparing a big fancy healthy meal. Of course, over time the two-minute rule will seem too small, and rather than two minutes, you will feel driven to go beyond what you’ve accomplished in just two minutes. You’ll begin to feel motivated to go for fifteen minutes, and then thirty minutes, and forty minutes, up to an hour. However, the two-minute rule trains the brain so that everything over two minutes is icing on the cake. Discipline doesn’t happen overnight; it is painstakingly developed over long durations. Two minutes are what you committed to and this will create a pattern of discipline that will help you achieve your goals over the long haul. Modeling this discipline will inspire those you lead.
By: Eric Betts
Assistant Director, Curtis Coleman Center for Religion Leadership and Culture at Athens State University