Choosing a Disciplined Approach vs Discipline

‘What you need is not discipline, but a disciplined approach’ said David Allen aloud as I was listening to ‘Ready for Anything’.
As is the case when I hear a nice excerpt these days, I generally pause the book and make a note on my phone. I really liked the sound of this little line i.e. choosing a disciplined approach vs discipline but I didn’t fully understand it.
It was only when I decided to take up the whole ‘Wake up at 5am idea’ that I recalled it. And here’s how this 1 line changed my approach.
Before
– Focus would be on waking up at 5am
– I would end up sleeping at normal time and waking up at 5am the first day
– Result: Sleep deprived and less energetic day = lower momentum
– I would have persisted for a couple of days but after a point, I would begin to oversleep and chuck the whole idea out of my mind.
– Of course, this would be accompanied by the usual combination of kicking myself, finding an excuse etc etc.
After
– Focus shifted to – Get 8 hours of sleep AND wake up at 5am. (The math makes it simple now = Sleep at 9pm (WOAH))
– So, I began slow – Sleep by 10pm and wake up by 530.
– Result – Slept eventually by 1030-11 and woke up 530.
– Managed 3 out of 5 days in my 1st week.
– Next, I slowly began sleeping at 10pm. And again, kept up 3 out of 5 days for 2 additional weeks.
– And, finally, yesterday, for the first time, I managed to sleep by 930. Woke up at 530am today feeling fully rested and great. First time ever!
– And, as a result of the focus, any day I don’t get 8 hours of sleep, I prioritize the 7-8 hours of rest versus waking up early. Therefore, I hardly feel the pressure.
This is similar to playing a game. Now, we are not focusing on the game, but instead – focusing purely on the preparation. Here, the game is waking up early but the preparation is really what happens the previous day – Finishing up work on time, eating on time, sleeping on time etc.
Can this get better? Absolutely. But, as you can see – the big difference was the focus on the approach versus crazy discipline. And, all of a sudden, I have something more sustainable and most importantly, something more fun.
It is the same with tackling any life problem. Yesterday’s book learning was about the David Allen Framework – the framework looks daunting on first glance. But, I remember that when I started, all I focused on was getting the 1st step right and then taking it a step a time.
Ages ago, it was once suggested to me that I was probably going too easy on myself with the whole ‘a learning a day’ idea as it implied that it was okay to make mistakes the first time – even if they were simple and unavoidable. That is true. It may not be ideal. (What is?)
But, I also believe it is FAR more sustainable in the long run to take baby steps and to apply constant, consistent and predictable pressure on ourselves. And that way, you also have the opportunity to have fun along the way AND build a blog AND learn a heck of a lot from that experience as well.
That’s killing many birds with one stone. Happy ‘disciplined approach’ this week, everyone!