The Deceptiveness of Discipline

I write this from an office building in Montrose, CA. It’s 5:45 am.

Actually, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me back up a bit.

I have a gym membership. And like so many people, I don’t go to the gym nearly as often as I should. Why? The reasons excuses are many:

  1. It’s too crowded.
  2. I’m too tired.
  3. My [insert muscle group here] hurts.
  4. I plan on doing something Saturday that involves walking so I clearly can’t do leg day on Monday. Because recovery time. <- My favorite. I’ve used variants of this logic often.
  5. And on and on and on . . .

Most of the excuses are readily countered with a modicum discipline. And therein lies the problem: discipline.  I don’t have it. Or more specifically, I don’t have it where I want it and need it. Or do I?

Discipline comes in a variety of forms, many hidden. Let’s take video games as an example.

I play a LOT of Overwatch. Not as much as others, mind you, but it can take a significant amount of my time. Time I should be using to be more productive. Now on the surface, I’m not disciplined enough to do those productive things. But I am disciplined enough to get better at playing Overwatch. I’m devoting time and energy to improve my game-play so I won’t lose as often. (I still lose fairly often.) I study videos, tutorials, et cetera to aid me in my quest. The reward/punishment system is in full swing. Instant gratification occurs – albeit usually after hours of play – when I finally level up and earn a precious Loot Box full of accoutrement.

Now let’s take my current location as yet another example.

I have a survival job, as many actors do. This particular survival job relocated to La Crescenta-Montrose. (I’m still unclear as to why the city name is hyphenated. Perhaps two cities got married but wanted to keep their names?) The relocation was from Burbank. Convenient Burbank. With the wondrously close VO n GO at Voicecaster! Sigh.

Needless to say, a bit of a schlep. Particularly in the quagmire that is Los Angeles during rush hour. Last-minute auditions could no longer be squeezed in during lunch at Voicecaster. My car has been used but it’s not ideal. A solution needed to be found.

And so a solution was found. The owner of the survival job was gracious enough to give me a key and the freedom to make my own schedule. I chose 5:30 am as my start time.

Now some people are morning people. I am not. Getting up at 4:00 am is a chore. But the rewards are many. My commute was reduced to about 25 minutes (one way) instead of anywhere between 40 minutes and the end of time. I have time in the afternoon to be productive.

And then a sudden realization occurred: I was waking up at a time I wanted to wake up to go to the gym. I’d essentially disciplined myself into a specific behavior.

If I could do it for work, why not the gym!