Self-Discipline and Accountability

I can’t remember exactly, but I seem to recall reading that a smoker quits an average of 6 times before finally quitting for good.  It’s basically in-line with the idea that it’s always much harder to break an old habit, than to form a new one.  Well, I’ve never smoked a day in my life, but I need to do something that (for me) is just about as difficult: develop my level of self-discipline and accountability to a whole new level.

ADD & Self-Discipline: Thorny But Necessary Bedfellows

Life with ADD can be a little crazyShortly after I was diagnosed with ADD at the age of 33, a colleague of mine recommended a book called Driven to Distraction, by Dr. Edward M. Hallowell & Dr. John Ratey.  Along with the Adderal that I started, the book was amazingly helpful in understanding what ADD is and how it affects people with it.  I’ve written several times about my life with ADD, both the benefits and drawbacks here on this blog:

One of my key takeaways from the book was the necessity of building strong habits, because ingrained habits don’t require as much mental energy to do repetitively in comparison with making the conscious decision to do a task each time.  And while I made some progress on that, I’ve also struggled greatly in a few particular areas:

  • At-home exercise regimens & martial arts training
  • Consistent healthy eating
  • Regular at-home Continuing Education in my field of dentistry
  • Setting aside regular time for meditation and personal renewal
  • Regulating the amount of time I spend on various electronic devices, whether computers, iPhones, iPads, etc.
  • Staying focused on work tasks while at work so as to then leave it there
  • Most importantly of all: save plenty of time for my wife and daughters.

Well, there are some things happening in our lives right now that tell me: NOW IS THE TIME.  To accomplish certain goals that are very important to my wife and me, I absolutely MUST make a leap upwards in self-discipline and personal accountability.  And fortunately, I know how to do it!  It won’t be easy, but I am putting together my plan for approaching my life as a whole over the coming year, with the understanding that – once these new habits become ingrained, they won’t just be for the year, they will be lifelong.

I Welcome Your Help – And Will Help You, Too

As much as I know that – ultimately – I am the only person who can make these changes in my life, I also understand the value of having a coach, colleagues, family, and friends cheering me on and reminding me when I feel weak and worn out.  Naturally, those are the times when the new habits of self-discipline are MOST needed, not least, but they’re also the most difficult.  So for anyone who wishes to join me: please do!  We can share ideas, experiences, build each other up, encourage, and push each other to never relent.

Starting Points

I’ve already decided on a few steps to take, and will be updating this particular page occasionally, along with adding new posts and pages throughout 2015.  So here are a few:

  1. Delete all games from my iPad and iPhone (already done)
  2. Remove the Twitter and Facebook accounts from my Mac, iPad, iPhone (already done)
  3. Install an app that blocks selected social media websites at certain times of day (looking for which one)
  4. Weekly Sunday vlogs on how I’m doing (may morph into Google+ Hangouts if other people decide to jump on board)
  5. Write a Personal Affirmation/Meditation to repeat every morning and every night before bed
  6. Re-commit to a 3-class/week schedule at The Peaceful Dragon in Kung Fu and Tai Chi
  7. Begin a daily exercise schedule of 20 minutes each day to rotate the following (simple and short – no excuses to not find 20 minutes a day, right?)
    • 1 minute each, each side, of all 7 Kung Fu stances, push ups, sit ups, planks
    • 20 minutes on the treadmill with a podcast
    • 20 minutes on the heavy punching bag in the garage
    • Perform every Kung Fu form 4 times each
    • 1 minute each, each side, of all 7 Kung Fu stances, push ups, sit ups, planks
    • 20 minutes on the treadmill
    • 20 minutes on the heavy punching bag
  8. Set 1 hour each on Sat. and Sun. to watch an online dental CE course = 104 hours of online CE in 2015
  9. Set a writing schedule for the office blog 1-2 days/week
  10. Read/re-read several books:

YEESH THAT’S A LOT!

Yeah, that’s a heck of a lot to take on.  That’s why I’ll be enlisting the help and support of others, creating easy-to-use checklists for the fridge, and being open and accountable.  But if I don’t take ALL of it on…knowing myself…pretty much none of it will happen.  🙁  But really, the whole point is to develop new habits.  A LOT of new habits, but none of them are big, and each of them will reinforce the others and make it easier to do the others.

No, this is NOT a New Year’s Resolution (useless things IMO).  This is a deliberate, calm, focused decision to grow up a little bit more.  And in doing so, I will gain the freedom to do so much more, and I can’t wait! This image made in 2013 is my goal:

Learning to juggle life with ADD isn't easy

Follow along in my blog:

And check out my YouTube vlog.

  • Another pair of great books:
    1. Organized Mind, Organized Life
    2. F.A.S.T. Mind

    • No no no! Don’t give me more reading or I’ll get distracted again! LOL

      Seriously, though, thank you Mani. I will definitely put those on my list. For now, though, I have to keep it simple and stick with what I know has worked for me in the past, but which just needs new application and focus.

      • ColinT

        An ADD friend of mine bought a book on conquering procrastination. Six months later I asked if he had started it yet, which of course, he hadn’t. I asked him to check if the pages of the book actually had text on them, or if the author and publisher had banked on the fact the book would never be read by anyone likely to purchase it!

        • Oh, that’s good! And sadly….my whole self-discipline thing has fallen to pieces as well. Your story also echoes mine – back when I was first diagnosed with ADD, a dental colleague (also ADD) recommended that I read Driven to Distraction by Dr. Ed Hallowell. Intrigued, I bought the book….and finally read it 2 years later. 🙂