For several years, I put one hour and fifteen seconds on a timer, pressed the Start button, and performed a daily meditation. I kept going until the timer rang.
Pushing myself to this level transformed my body, mind, and spirit. In no small part, because of the discipline I cultivated.
However, as the years went on, I abandoned the timer. Because it was just a fancy dressing for the real foundation – the meditation itself.
When I was dead broke in 2011 and recovering from a drunken debt binge, I started saving 10% of my weekly pay.
This 10% savings took priority over paying my rent. And buying food. And taking care of bills.
When my financial life transformed a couple years later, I relaxed my savings rule.
Same deal with writing. I used to commit myself to three, four, five, and then eventually six writing sessions lasting 33 minutes and 33 seconds each. Daily. Or maybe seven sessions. I forget.
Then, I cut back on using the timer, because I didn’t need it.
When you’re integrating a new practice in your life, prioritize daily discipline.
If you want to get in shape, exercise every single day. Time yourself. Record what you do.
If you’re a writer, then write every single day. For a specific amount of time or for a certain number of words. Or both.
If you want to pull your financial life together, save a certain amount of money every week. Put it in a special savings account.
However, when the habit is fully integrated into your being, don’t let your original standards handcuff you.
Take a day off from your workouts, when your body needs the recovery. Relax from writing when your creative juices need replenishing. Spend the damn money.
Double your workout intensity. Spend the entire day writing. Save half your income.
A contradiction? Didn’t I just say you can eventually relax your discipline?
There’s a subtle distinction here…
You’re not throwing out the discipline or the habit. You’re freeing yourself from the rigid scheduling you needed, to integrate that habit.
Think of a bridge getting repaired. During the repairs, it needs extra support, which can be done with bridge jacking or bridge shoring. Once the repairs are done, the extra support is removed.
At a certain point, you might not need the extra support, either. When you embody the power behind the habit, you will know what’s best for you at any given moment. It could be less… or more.
This is the stage beyond learning discipline. It’s beyond binding yourself to healthy habits. When you integrate them, you can break the mold and harness the true power you’ve developed.