Tuesday, October 23, 2012

21 Days To A More Disciplined Life

I was given the opportunity to review a copy of the ebook 21 Days To A More Disciplined Life by Crystal Paine, the owner of the website MoneySavingMom.com.  I've been a follower of Money Saving Mom for over a year now and it has become one of my go-to websites for money-saving advice.  So I was really excited to get to read Crystal's latest book.  I knew it'd be good.

In essence, the book is a 21 day program to help instill more discipline into your life.  Before getting into the book, I figured it'd be a great read, full of great advice, for other people.  I'm already a pretty disciplined person.  I wake up at 6:20 am almost every single morning.  I have my prayer time at 6:45 am almost every morning.  I make a pot of coffee for Hubby, and then pack his work cooler with yogurt, fruit, and a baggie of mixed nuts.  I pop a bagel into the toaster and coat it in cream cheese and set it on a plate, ready to go, so Hubby can grab it as he walks out the door for work.

Once Hubby is out the door, I turn to helping the children get their breakfast while getting my own.  Then we tackle school work which is almost always done by lunch time.  My routine goes on until bed time, but the point is...I have a schedule and I do best when I follow it.  I'm not a newbie when it comes to discipline.

And then I read Day 1: Discipline is doing what you know needs to be done, even though you don't want to do it.  Oh.  You mean that overflowing hamper of clean clothes that's been sitting in my living room for a week now?  I'm supposed to actually fold it?  Because that would be what the "fully" disciplined person would do?  Hmph.  Fine.  I'll keep reading (and get to folding).

My messy storage room

Day 3 was the truly scary day.  The day that I was supposed to come up with a habit to work on for the next 20 days.  I came up with both a habit and a project.  I have a project I've been putting off for years--the storage room.  I knew this was the one thing that I had in my life that was bringing me down the most.  I needed to clean out that room and get it done already so I could move on.  I meant to only spend a half hour on Saturday working in there, but I ended up working for a good 3-4 hours.  I tackled 3 out of the 5 shelving units full of boxes.  I dragged out 2 garbage bags of trash, 2 large boxes of giveaways, and emptied out 5 boxes by compacting what was left.  This week I've been making myself work for a half hour every day which I will continue until the whole thing is clean and orderly.

Getting ready to run the race

For my habit, I chose exercise.  I've spent the last 10 weeks running my way through the Couch to 5K program which culminated with running in an actual 5K this past Sunday.  I didn't want that to be it and to just let all my hard work at getting into shape fall by the wayside now that I've reached my goal, so I decided I'd make a new fitness goal--to join the gym and commit to working out three mornings a week with my friend.  (Something the ebook also encourages is to find an accountability partner--what better way to ensure I get up in the middle of the night to exercise than to have a friend waiting there who will know if I am skipping out on it)

Of course I am going to run into obstacles.  Lucky for me, the book helps me prepare for the things that could derail my goal.  Like illness, tiredness, laziness, snow.  I need to plan ahead--to get to bed on time so I can wake up with the chickens so I will make it to exercise class.  To take my vitamins so I can hopefully avoid getting sick.  To have a backup plan for when it starts to snow--like using the exercise equipment in my basement or wait until later in the day after the plows have come through and take the kids swimming at the gym.

But I also have to do as Day 6 and 7 say and be realistic and not give up.  I am not going to make it to the gym every single time I want to.  The important thing to remember is Do not give up.  The beginning is always the hardest.  Falling down is not failing--unless you don't get back up again.  If I miss a day, I can't just quit.  I have to keep going.  Like my 5K, I was really tempted to skip the race because I hadn't been able to run the prior two weeks due to illness and rain, I was still coughing and not feeling the greatest, but my desire to not fail overcame the obstacles.  I really wanted to prove to myself that I could make a goal and stick with it for the long haul.

Joy waiting for me to finish the race

And of course the most important part of successfully completing any goal is to surround yourself with cheerleaders.  My family came to see me run and it was hearing Joy yell, "Mommy!" as I neared the finish line that motivated me to keep running.  Joy has been encouraging me through my training--riding her scooter alongside me, telling me that she was helping me to keep running, telling me to run faster if I wanted to win, and offering to ride her scooter alongside me for the actual race so she could help me.  I never really thought about how motivating she was all those weeks, but she really was my little 5 year old cheerleader.

If you want to grow in discipline, to learn how to set goals, lay out the steps necessary to complete them, to come up with strategies to deal with setbacks and obstacles, and to establish a support system (accountability partners and cheerleaders), this is the book for you.  Even if you already feel like you are doing well with being disciplined, you will quickly learn, like me, that there is still room to grow.

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