“All freedom comes from discipline.”

— Anne Lamott

Rush of success

Our daily routines and habits are influenced and also influence the perspective we have on life. I often relate this to the moment when a plane takes off. When it’s grounded, the weather might be cloudy and dark, but once it takes off and breaks through the clouds, it reaches the sunny view above.  And the same happens with our daily actions. Before we get to fly high and see the panoramic view above the clouds, we must go through a time of ascent, of uncertainty and turbulence. And this is the time where the plane – and us – become stable and ready to handle whatever weather brings about.


Have you ever had a day or a week where you planned everything ahead, but didn’t manage to accomplish one of the important tasks? I think all of us have been through this at least once. And if you felt a sense of disappointment in yourself or as if the whole world was looking at you because you did not do what you promised you would, you’re not alone either. I went through this thousands of times and, eventually, it made me reluctant to even start what I had in mind. And even when I did start new things, I was quick to think that if I had failed before the same is bound to happen again. At some point, I didn’t even bother to change small habits. But it’s when you hit rock bottom that you realise that all that’s left to do is to build stairs and get out of the hole you dug for yourself.

This doesn’t mean you need to wait until you reach rock bottom to make a change. You can do it before, as well. Every day, we have many opportunities to do something differently and have smaller or larger wins in the game of life. A simple step forward every day goes a longer way than a big leap once a week.

For me, every change is like plane travel. We set up the controls, we prepare everything, then we speed up the runway, and take off. These are the plans we make and actions that we take. But there’s also a control tower – these are our thoughts and our beliefs.

We may take the first steps and prepare for take-off, but if there’s a command coming in from the control tower, saying the weather conditions are not favourable, we might postpone the take off until the next Monday, next week or next month. But when we have a green light from the control tower, we take off and soar, feeling the rush of adrenaline and motivation.

Of course, there might be turbulence on the way and the flight will not always be pleasant. You may come across thunderstorms and turbulence, and you will feel tired at times. But you have a choice – to either keep going through the clouds until the conditions get better and reach your destination, or use the emergency landing procedure and go back from where you started.

If you find – or build – the strength to continue your journey, you’ll get to see the beautiful view above the clouds. And when you’ll reach your destination, you’ll be another person. The relief, the peace, and the joy from achieving your goal will remain with you and will reshape your perspective, habits, and actions.

So achieving new habits and building self-discipline is not something that happens by mistake, it’s a process that we need to plan. How are we going to start? How are we going to react to difficult or unexpected situations? How are we going to celebrate our victories, big or small?

Some habits will be easy to change, while others, although important, might seem harder to reach, especially if our current actions are the complete opposite of what we’d like to do. This is where the control tower needs adjustments.

Because habits like waking up at 6AM or 9AM, having coffee or breakfast, the road we take to work – all of these are deeply ingrained in our subconscious mind, who has already accepted them. You don’t have to put in effort for something that is a habit, but to bring a new habit here, your mind needs to accept and become familiar with it.

So let’s say you want to improve your morning routine. The moment your alarm goes off, a new cycle of habits starts – you snooze it twice, roll over a few times in your bed, then get up after 20 minutes. When you’re out of the bed, you have another set of habits – you go to the bathroom, brush your teeth, wash your face, and change your clothes. A couple of minutes later, you grab something for breakfast or a coffee, then you’re out the door.

All of these actions are like second-nature when you’re used to doing them. And there is a process for second-nature habits to be replaced. The first thing is not to try to make too many changes at once. For instance, if you try to wake up from the first time the alarm goes off, then eat avocado toast for breakfast instead of Nutella, it might work for a couple of days. But the subconscious mind might feel like too many things are changing at once, which it will interpret as danger, and try to convince you to quit. Instead, try to forget about the snooze button for a week or two. Then, when this is already somewhat familiar to your mind – and not necessarily a new habit yet – you can attempt to change your breakfast habits, as well.

Of course, every individual is different. Someone might successfully tackle these both challenges at once, without having too much trouble. It is your decision alone to make what changes you want to make, but always be honest with yourself and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. In this process, one of the most important stages is accepting that you’ll sometimes fail to do as planned. This is normal. Don’t give up, just get up and keep going.

You can find out more about how we develop our behaviours and habits, and how these are linked to self-discipline on my blog. But before delving deeper, I want you to think of some real answers to the following questions:

  • What habits do I have?
  • How do they serve me?
  • Which habits I want to keep and which ones do I want to change?

Once you’ve answered them, you’re ready for your next level.

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