By Erica D. Clark, Esq
At the start of the New Year, I started out like most people do with a fresh set of new goals. My main goal was to become more disciplined. I was inspired by someone close to me and over time I witnessed the impact discipline had on their life. Discipline may be the most important trait in terms of creating the lifestyle you want for yourself, and so I wanted to make some life adjustments.
The question then was, where do I start? There was no easy formula, but something I did know was that routine would turn into habits, great habits would turn into discipline, and self-discipline would change my life. There’s an old belief that habits are formed by completing a task for 21 days in a row. The science surrounding this belief has been controversial and deemed a “myth” to some skeptics, but I decided to give it a try and see if 21 days was enough for it to work for me.
I decided to start with two things I liked, but wasn’t always consistent at, exercise and leisure reading. Both exercise and reading have major benefits, and so I thought they were a great starting point. The first thing I did was pick a book and a new challenging exercise routine that would keep me interested. On day 1, I started off with SoulCycle and Michelle Obama’s book “Becoming.”
SoulCycle was so intense and fun at the same time. Prior to this I absolutely hated cardio, but this was something fun and tolerable for me and cycling quickly became something new I added to my weekly exercise routine. Each day I steadily intensified training. On the couple of days when I felt too exhausted to work out and felt like quitting, I made sure to do something lighter followed by some deep yoga flows. By day 14, I immediately saw changes in my body and daily exercising was already beginning to feel like “my thing.” I began getting super excited about what HITT routines I’d be doing the next day, and how much I would challenge myself with weights. At this time I also joined a new gym so that I would have more access to better equipment, classes, and flexible hours. I was now fully invested in keeping up with this new routine and becoming disciplined.
Every night before bed I would read a chapter of Auntie Chelle’s book and it began the start of a very relaxing routine. After the first few chapters of the book, I realized that the “young black lawyer from the Southside of Chicago” had so much in common with lil ole me, the “young black lawyer from Uptown Philadelphia.” I immediately knew the upcoming days of reading would be a delightful breeze.
By day 21, I briefly reflected and realized how much things had changed for me. I was finally seeing the impact discipline was creating in my life. Each day the quality of my entire day was improving based upon these two habits I was forming. If I had to meet with clients later in the day, I was planning my day to workout early in the morning and preparing more for work things in advance. My overall productivity was increasing, which means my career was off to a great new year start as I was making more money at a time of the year that’s usually slow for me. My overall life scheduling became a lot better, because I was now very serious about making time to get everything I needed done so that I would have time to read and exercise. I didn’t want to be exhausted while reading at night, and so I began getting into bed a little earlier, sometimes in hopes of reading two chapters that night or just getting more rest. My nightly reading routine, later started to include a nightly face moisturizing/massage routine. Stress and anxiety was minimized and my body was thanking me by not just looking amazing, but I was functioning a lot better with a clearer mind and more focus. I also was not as attached to my phone. The time spent on social media before bed was now spent snuggled up with a good book and then lights out. I was now forming new little other habits and not even realizing it. Things were changing…
As I write this, and realizing I have already doubled the original 21 days, I am proud to say that I am still at it, and embracing the new changes. Even with advice from trainers to take a rest day out of the week, I still find myself doing a little something. I am almost done book number 2 and already excited about what to read next (drop some titles below in the comments). I am so much stronger now, mind body and soul. The best (and most important) thing that happened is I am a lot happier 🙂