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Super-Charge Your Midlife Discipline, Starting NOW!

For many years, I thought I was a disciplined person. I always thought, "I like discipline, but I don't like structure." That's because I thought structure made me feel trapped, like I didn't have any flexibility when it was in place. But that wasn't actually true.

The reason I didn't like structure was because I was using the wrong structure. I was using the old traditional ways of doing things, and it made me feel like I was the round peg trying to fit into the square hole. Once I discovered what types of structure work best for me, everything fell into place.

In this post, I'll define what structure and discipline are, explain how they coexist beautifully, and I'll give you a few examples on how these two lovelies will help you get your midlife mindset in order so you can start crushing new habits, goals and just about anything else you set your mind to.

Discipline vs. structure: What's the difference?

Discipline has gotten a bad rap because most of us view it as a negative thing with lots of rules and rigidity, even punishment. We've all heard, "You're going to be disciplined for your bad behavior." This is the way we view it, but it's not that at all. Discipline is actually one of the nicest things you can do for yourself.

If you think you're not disciplined, think again. That's because discipline is internal and it lives inside of you. It's built on your values and what's important to you, and it centers around meaningful activities that benefit you like improving your health, managing your finances well, etc.

Discipline is a solo activity that you do for yourself. It helps with achieving your long-term goals when you're creating new habits and making changes for the better.

Structure is a pretty amazing thing too. Children do well with structure because it makes them feel safe and offers stability. That's exactly the same reason we need a little structure as adults. Structure ensures certainty and stability in our lives.

Structure is external and changes depending on what you're working on. It includes things like healthy routines or time blocking on your calendar or setting a timer while you work or using a Kanban board. These are external activities that we can adjust as we need to.

Discipline is internal and it's based on your values and activities that are meaningful to you. Structure is external and includes tools that can change depending on what you are working on.

Discipline and structure go hand-in-hand, and most of us can't have one without the other. For example, you can put a massive amount of structure into your schedule. You could structure every single moment of your day but if you don't have the discipline to carry out the activities, things are going to fizzle out pretty quickly.

That's why it's so important for you to know your values and to know what matters to you so you can manage your behavior appropriately.

On the flip side, you can have a ton of discipline. You can be very clear on what you're doing and where you're going but if you don't have the right structure in place, it's going to be difficult to get things done consistently and efficiently. More than likely your efforts will be hit or miss.

Structures to help you rev up your midlife discipline

Here are a few ideas to help you get your creative juices going as you put some structure around your goals and habits, or around any activities that will help you move ahead in midlife.

These structures will help you supercharge your discipline and create results quickly. Once you start seeing some results, that's going to encourage you to do more and more. Pretty soon, achieving goals and creating healthy habits will just be second nature to you.

1. Routines

In Personalize Your Midlife Morning Routine And Take Charge Of Your Day!, I gave you a few morning routines to try out. I explained why a couple of them didn't even work for me and why one of them is working well for me.

You can also create an evening routine  to help you wind down before bed. I'm currently in the midst of creating an evening routine where I journal for 20 minutes before bed. While I haven't hit my goal of five times a week yet, I'm finding it to be quite cathartic. Doing a brain dump at the end of the day helps me sleep better.

Setting up healthy routines is one of the simplest ways to put some structure into your life.

2. Time blocking

Time blocking is really simple. It's just making an appointment with yourself to get something done. I'm not sure why we have to use all this different terminology like "time blocking" to do something that's so basic, but that's the trendy term for it right now.

Making an appointment with yourself and getting it on the calendar means you can protect that time. I use time blocking to make sure that I protect time to do the things that I love to do, and I encourage you to do the same.

If there's something you love to do, put it on the calendar and enjoy it. For me, it's reading and doing crossword puzzles. For you, it could be a sport like golf or pickleball or water aerobics. Maybe you enjoy listening to music or taking a class or being outside. Whatever it is, block out time on the calendar and protect that time.

3. Batching

Batching is another great way to put some structure into your week, and it's simply grouping similar tasks or activities together. For example, if you have work activities that need a lot of focus and concentration, put yourself on do not disturb for an hour or two and get them all done at one time.

If you volunteer, set aside an entire day for your volunteer work. If you want to batch your priorities,  plan the next day's activities before you leave your desk. When I started doing this, I got fewer surprises when I arrived at my desk in the morning. I review my to-dos for the next day and prioritize them so the moment I hit my desk, I know exactly what I'm going to do and the order in which I'm going to do it.

4. Accountability

One of the best structures I have ever used is having an accountability partner. My current partner is Christina, and we text every Sunday before midnight. We report in on whether we completed our weekly goals and we list the intentions that we'll be focusing on for the upcoming week.

Knowing I'm going to give her an update on Sunday gets me moving. I don't want to tell her I didn't complete all my goals for the week. I want to report in and get my gold star. ;) Accountability motivates me. If something like that motivates you, use it to its fullest advantage.

Now, you need to figure out how you work best. Ask yourself questions:

  • Are your current routines benefitting you? If not, how can you tweak them?
  • Do you like having time frames to work within, like in time blocking? Or do you prefer to set two or three priorities for the day and make sure they're done before you go to bed?
  • What activities and tasks can you start batching to increase your efficiency?
  • What kind of accountability can you put in place to help you get things done?

The best way you can use structure to enhance your discipline is to figure out what works for you. As you do this, you're going to discover that some of these are perfect for you and others don't work at all. There are no right or wrong answers for this. The only way you can do it wrong is to not do it at all. Have fun playing with these different structures and you'll amp up your discipline in no time.

Grab your free copy of How To Reclaim Your Energy And Kick Midlife Blues To The Curb: A Simple Guide

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