I’m the perfect candidate for journaling. I’m a guy who likes to write, is historically emotional yet guarded with my feelings AND I’ve got lot of high-level stuff swirling around in my brain right now (job search, kid starting school, etc.). So, as I pondered what my next week of Five Day Discipline was going to be this seemed like the perfect option at the perfect time.
Five Day Discipline: Journal for at least 15 minutes each day
What I Wrote About: Whatever happened to me that day, my kids starting school, my current job search, my passions, etc. I didn’t structure my journaling time in any way. I would just sit down and write whatever thoughts popped into my head. The first day was by far the most random in that aspect and I hopped around several subjects. As the week went on though I ended up (unintentionally, I think) narrowing my focus.
Results: I was surprised to find 15 minutes of journaling rather tedious. Aside from my hand punishing me for using it for a length of time it wasn’t used to, I found myself wanting my 15 minute timer to go off. However, near the end of the week the process of journaling brought out some valuable (and personal) thoughts for me and my life moving forward. I found some clarity about what I want (Need!) to do with my life that I may not have found as quickly without the journaling process.
Takeaways: It took me several days, but now I see real value in a daily journal and intend to keep up the practice in some capacity. For me though, I think I would be better served by not putting a time restriction on it otherwise it feels more like a task and less like a tool. That means that I may end up writing for just a minute or two on some days but much of the value of keeping a journal is getting out thoughts and articulating new ones and how long that takes doesn’t matter. We are a go, go, go society and so busy filling our lives that we often fail to take a step back and reflect on our hopes, dreams, direction, goals, etc. A journal will help me take that necessary pause.
I was recently listening to a podcast by Gary Vaynerchuk* when he was asked to talk about his biggest failures. His response to the question was, “I think [when looking back on life] my failures are the things that I didn’t do.”
I love that answer. Now, in context, his answer was more about failing to invest in companies that would have made him a lot of money, but I think his answer can apply to all of us. It’s taken me a long time to realize that failure isn’t trying and not succeeding but failure is not trying in the first place. Whatever your goals or dreams are they are worth being chased and you’ve got to be willing to fall on your face along the way. Falling on your face can be painful but it’s movement and you can’t reach a goal without moving.
Many of us (*raises hand*) want to do something but we don’t know how to do it. So we do nothing. We’re afraid to fail and so we freeze, too scared to move. This is where Five Day Discipline can be a really useful tool. The system is built on trying something you don’t normally do every week so you’re forced to move. You get used to moving. You’re not necessarily moving towards your biggest dreams or goals but you’re learning (and relearning) what gives you joy and you’re doing it by never standing still.
Once you’re not afraid to move your goals and dreams will follow.
It’s all about movement.
*Google Gary Vee if you haven’t heard of him. He’s got a colorful tongue but if that doesn’t bother you you’ll find him insightful and entertaining. Here, I’ll google him for you: https://www.garyvaynerchuk.com/
“A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.” I’m not claiming any sort of wisdom here but this quote from Willy Wonka has always been a favorite of mine. After eating a crown of broccoli each day for my previous Five Day Discipline I was in need of a little nonsense for Week 24 so having a Nerf gun fight with my kids was an easy choice.
I’ve been telling people that they shouldn’t pick a Five Day Discipline that requires the involvement of someone else for a while now so obviously I broke that rule this week. It’s not really a rule, of course, more like a guideline. It’s not that I don’t think there is value in conquering something together, indeed I do, but I want people to succeed and not have to rely on someone else’s behavior in order to achieve their goals. I have four kids (three old enough to run around and shoot Nerf guns) so I knew I’d be able to find at least one of them interested in playing with me each day.
Five Day Discipline: Have a Nerf war with my kids every day. We run around and shoot each other with Nerf guns often but never five days in a row and it’s never planned out ahead of time. This week we pulled out all the stops: forts, bases, neighbor kids, alliances, scouting missions, betrayals, invisibility armor…
Was it fun?: You bet your britches!
Being silly is more fun than not being silly (please, that’s Mr. Holmes to you)
My kids love teaming up together against me (and I love watching them team up)
I love shooting my kids (ah the joy of nailing your child with a perfectly timed shot)
Anticipation is energy- I looked forward to coming home each day knowing that I was about to play Nerf guns and run around with my kids. Regardless of what I had done that day or how tired I was, when I walked through the door I had a newfound energy.
My main role as a parent isn’t to be a friend to my kids but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a heap of fun along the way
The bond I have with my kids felt stronger this week. We were all excited to be having Nerf wars and there was a palpable joy in the air.
This week was special. Not special as far as my Five Day Discipline journey goes, I didn’t gain a new healthy habit or find a new hobby, but a week spent focusing on my kids is a good week to me no matter which way you slice it. Then again, Five Day Discipline is about personal growth and I definitely think my kids and I grew a little bit closer this week. A relationship is built on a thousand tiny shared experiences and we made the most of our time together this week. Maybe a week of Nerf wars doesn’t guarantee a strong, healthy relationship with my kids in the future but maybe a little nonsense can go a long way. Maybe a little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men because they know that any time spent playing with your kids is time well spent.
P.S. This was a super fun week. Even if you don’t have kids you can find a way to let go and shake loose. Do that. Play more. The end.
Five Day Discipline is easy. You pick something you don’t normally do and you do it for five days. Just five days. That’s easy, right? Yes, in theory. But theory doesn’t mean a thing when your kid gets sick or you have to work late or any of the million other real world examples I could mention. Life happens. Skipping a day (or week) of Five Day Discipline won’t derail your life and send you into a downward but if you want to squeeze the most that you can out of Five Day Discipline you have to make it a priority. Not THE priority, but A priority. It takes a certain amount of dedication if you hope to learn and grow so here are a few simple steps that you can take to keep you on track:
Think ahead. Look at your upcoming week and pick something that is realistic. If the upcoming week has you traveling for work on Thursday and Friday don’t decide that “Playing the piano for an hour” will be your Five Day Discipline. If you’re a fancy boy or girl maybe, maybe you’ll have a piano in your hotel lobby but you won’t play it anyway. Even if you’re good enough (you’re not) and have the fortitude (you don’t) to sit in a hotel lobby and play piano for strangers for an hour you can’t count on that as an option. The hotel may not let random guests use their piano or they may have hired a pianist for the evening, etc. Bottom line: look at your schedule for the week, think and make your Five Day Discipline realistic. Put succinctly: fail to plan, plan to fail. That’s clever I should trademark that.
Take the first opportunity each day to get your Five Day Discipline done. If you can get your Five Day Discipline done early do it early. Time slips away. Accidents happen. Chaos is one misstep away. It won’t always apply to your discipline for the week but when you’re able to, go ahead and get it done.
Tell someone what you’re doing. An old-fashioned accountability partner is never a bad idea. Not only will they help keep you accountable but they might give you new ideas or join in with you. When I was eating salads every day for lunch I would text a picture of my salad to my brother-in-law. If he didn’t hear from me he would have known that something fishy was up. A little positive peer pressure is a good thing when you’ve got a goal to accomplish.
Make it fun. Try things you want to try. The goal of Five Day Discipline isn’t to make you uncomfortable but to have you try new things and gain new perspectives. This week is a bad example for me because I’m eating an entire crown of broccoli each day (which is terribly tedious) but if you’re doing something that is making you miserable you’re much more likely to quit. So find something fun that you actually are excited about and get to it!
Once upon a time I worked out on a regular basis. I wasn’t big, bulky or particularly strong but I did actively pick up weights. I was on the wrestling team in high school and we pushed weights around in the gym multiple times each week. Then in college I continued to go to the gym each week, mostly because I had so much spare time (and zero affection for studying). Granted, it was way less intense and focused than my high school wrestling workouts were but it was better than nothing. Since college though I’ve been on a sliding scale somewhere between “Works out rarely” and “Doesn’t work out at all.” And I’m good with that. I have a wife and four kids and none of them love me for my body. As long as I am strong enough to pick my children up and carry out the normal chores of life then I am happy never stepping foot in a gym. But I also know that physical fitness is important to overall health and I’d really like to live forever so I decided to dust off the old weights in the garage (that’s a lie-the weights in the garage aren’t dusty at all. My wife is a machine and she uses them all the time).
Five Day Discipline: Workout for an hour each day. I didn’t have a plan or an agenda I was just going to go into my garage each night and move stuff around. Efficient? No. Effective? When you’ve been as static as I had been, absolutely. My body felt every. single. rep.(e.ti.tion.)
What I did: I can’t remember exactly. I did curls and bench press and triceps and ab stuff etc. No leg stuff. Forget legs. If the good Lord had intended me to exercise my legs he wouldn’t have invented pants to cover them up. What specific lifts I did don’t matter the important thing was that I was moving weights around.
What I learned: This is when I started using the phrase, “You can do anything for five days!” On Friday, Day 5 of this particular week, my neighbors came over and we stood around in the kitchen talking for an hour and a half while our kids played. All well and good-except it was 10pm before they left and I was finally able to start my workout. You might be a night owl but, sister, I ain’t! I want to be in bed by 11pm and when you factor in the prep time and shower time on top of the hour I had to workout the math just wasn’t in my favor. Plus I was sore. I hadn’t picked up a weight in months before the start of this week so my body was lashing out at me with heavy doses of lactic acid. But you know what? You can do anything for five days! So I sucked it up and did it. There is a powerful psychology to not wanting to break a streak, even if that streak is designated to end at five days.
And then my week of working out was over.
I had hoped that Week 3 would kick start a new dedication to fitness for me and I would continue working out several times each week. But that didn’t happen. I didn’t pick up a weight again for almost two months. However, working out did make me feel good and it made me want to pick something challenging for my fourth week of Five Day Discipline, a week that would end up having huge consequences! Dun-dun-duuuun! Attempted drama aside, Week 3 ended up being important. More important than working out for an hour each night. You never know where shaking up your routine might lead you and, in my case at least, good things come to those who weight.
So if Week 1 was the accident that kicked off Five Day Discipline then Week 2 was the week that showed me that I didn’t have to overthink this thing for it to be effective. After my failed attempt at eating at a new restaurant every day the week before (curse you, ribs!) I was ready to give Week 2 the proper care and attention that it needed. Except that’s not really true. I had been slowly mulling over the idea of continuing a new discipline each week but I hadn’t decided what I was actually going to do. The weekend flew by, as it tends to do, and I found myself on Monday morning knowing I wanted to try something new but unsure of what.
That particular Monday just so happened to be my wife’s birthday and she wanted to celebrate by staying at a hotel in Fort Worth, going to her favorite restaurant (Joe T. Garcia’s) that evening and then going to the zoo the next day. The plan was for me to meet her and the kids out there once I got off work. Great. Except I still hadn’t chosen my Five Day Discipline. So, I did what any former good Boy Scout* would do: I decided at the very last minute what my Five Day Discipline would be for the week.
Like the previous week, my Five Day Discipline for Week 2 was very circumstantial. I got off work, met my wife and kids at a park in Fort Worth, went to dinner at Joe T. Garcia’s and then went to the hotel to put the kids to bed and relax for the evening. Except if you have kids and you’re staying in a hotel room together you don’t just get to put them to bed and then relax. You’re in the same room which means they don’t sleep. So, we decided to turn the TV on and lo and behold a Christmas miracle happened: Full House, one of the greatest sitcoms ever, was on. Excellent. If you aren’t sure which of the late 80s early 90s sitcoms Full House is, it’s the one that features an uncharacteristically wholesome Bob Saget, the A-dorable Olson twins (“You got it, dude!”), possibly the world’s most handsome man John Stamos (Have mercy!) and the highly underappreciated Dave Coulier dropping goofy quotables such as “Cut. It. Out.” My wife and I grew up watching it but our kids had never seen it. To our joy they loved it. And to the joy of the whole family we lucked into three episodes in a row.
Once the last episode had played it was really bedtime. The room was dark, the kids were all drifting off to Slumberland and I sat there deciding what to do with the rest of my evening. I was tired but not tired enough to go straight to bed. Should I wait until the kids were safely asleep and turn the TV back on? Grab my phone and surf the web? I wasn’t quite sure where my phone was. I thought for a moment and Eureka! My Five Day Discipline for this week would be not touching my phone once I got the kids down to sleep until I woke up the next morning.
Five Day Discipline: Don’t pick up my phone after my kids go to bed (roughly 8pm) until I wake up the next morning.
What I learned: Nobody really needs to get a hold of me. Granted, an emergency could have happened during that week but if it had my wife was keeping her usual vigil over her phone so I could be reached if necessary. Another thing to note is that while the world doesn’t stop for you-most of the time nothing of consequence is happening. Whatever gets posted on Instagram or Facebook might be entertaining but all of it’s content is there in the morning same as it was the night before. Except stories. I get that. But disappearing stories are just a sliver of the social (media) scene.
My normal routine is to put my phone away the moment I get home from work and then not pick it up again until after my kids go to bed. Once they are in bed I often grab it and begin the mindless scrolling. Week 2 was just a good week of taking time out of my evening to focus on other things besides my phone. I read more, got stuff done around the house and had more conversations with my wife. All positive things. There is life outside of your smart phone. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to the smart phone it is an incredibly useful tool, but every once in a while it’s nice to Cut. It. Out.
*I was actually a bad Boy Scout. I dropped out of Boy Scouts after one year and I still don’t know how to tie any knots. I’m an introvert who got homesick well into Middle School so that first year of Boy Scouts was rough. I didn’t mind the meetings but I wasn’t fond of the camping trips that took me away from home. One particularly memorable moment happened on a long camping trip when somehow a pair of my underwear slipped out of my bag. Not just any underwear-“tighty whities”. The most embarrassing undergarment an adolescent boy can wear. Did I mention that they were rolled up and sealed in a sandwich baggy? (Thanks, Mom!) Had I worn boxers or boxer briefs it probably wouldn’t have been an issue but some of the older Scouts got a hold of my underwear and were making fun of it as they tried to figure out who it belonged to. Thank god my name wasn’t written on the tag. Obviously, I denied they were mine. I never went camping with the Scouts again and didn’t sign up the next year. And that was the last year I was a Boy Scout.
Part of the magic of Five Day Discipline is thinking through things for yourself BUT if you’re wanting to get started and looking for a little help here are five simple ideas to get you started:
Read for 30 minutes a day. Obviously it’s your life so you can read more or less depending on how much time you have to carve out. Take that thriller, or Bible, or that book-that-would-make-you-blush-if-people-knew-you-had-it out and dig in.
Take a walk everyday. Ah, the good old evening constitutional. While you’re walking you’ll be able to do some good thinking and come up with other Five Day Discipline ideas. Plus it’s exercise. I’ve heard that exercise is good for you.
Call someone and talk for 10 minutes each day. I tried this a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it. Technology has made so much of our communication impersonal so reaching out to someone and hearing a human voice is nice from time to time.
Journal for 15 minutes each day. All this one requires is a pen and a piece of paper. Studies show that journaling can improve your IQ, help you make decisions in your life and lots of other stuff. Which studies? I don’t know but I’m told they exist.
Go to bed an hour early each night. Hallelujah! Amen! Sign me up, right? Resting and recharging is so important and it’s something many people neglect. This one might be more of a challenge than you think though. That work report or that show you watch with your spouse or your body being used to a certain routine might try to sabotage you but remember it’s only for five days. You can do anything for five days.
So, there you have it. Five quick, simple, free, zero-barriers-to-entry ideas to get you started on your Five Day Discipline journey. Don’t overthink or overanalyze what you’re doing at this point. Just strike the match and see where it takes you.
Have fun this week and let me know what you decide to do in the comments.
How long are you going to do this Five Day Discipline thing for?
I’m glad you asked. This is a common question I get when telling someone about Five Day Discipline. My initial plan was to do it for at least a year. I wanted to push myself and really see what could happen. Now that I’ve been doing it for 21 weeks my new answer is something more like “I don’t know. At least a year, maybe forever.” Because I love it and it hasn’t stopped transforming my life in positive ways. Why would I want to stop that?
But okay, you created it, of course you like it. What about the rest of us?
Look, we’re all different. There is no cure-all for growth or happiness. But, I believe that anybody who tries Five Day Discipline for any length of time will come out better on the other side. What is “better”? Better might be healthier, happier, more open-minded, full of new likes, passions or joys. It could be any or all of the above. My only guarantee is that better is not worse. You will not be worse off for trying Five Day Discipline.
Yeah, maybe, but I’m not doing this for a whole year.
I’m not asking you to. If you are interested in starting Five Day Discipline I would say this: try it for a month. If you like it after a month try it for three months. If you like it after three months try it for six months. If you like it after six months try it for a year. And so on. Maybe there is a golden amount of time where Five Day Discipline will yield the best results but until further notice the plan is this: if you like it, keep going. If you’re learning new things, keep going. If it’s fun, keep going. If you’re growing, keep going.
Great! But how much does it cost?
That’s a silly question. You know that it’s free. I’m not sure why you would even ask that question but I appreciate that you say whatever’s on your mind. That counts for something.
Can I ask anymore questions?
No, I’m sorry. I have another fake interview I need to get to. Ta ta for now.
Did you just quote Tigger from Winnie the Pooh?
I said no more questions.
Cheers and thanks for reading! Comment/share/tag/poke/prod/nudge anyone who you think might enjoy this or Five Day Discipline.
For Week 20 of my Five Day Discipline I decided that I would go out on a limb and climb a tree every day. Sound childish? Sure, but do you know who is more innately joyful than anyone old enough to read this website? Kids. Rich kids. Poor kids. Kids of every color, shape and size. Kids just have more fun than adults. And what do kids do? They climb trees.
Five Day Discipline: Climb a tree each day.
Where I climbed: A tree by my house, a path near my father-in-law’s house (twice), a path by an office I used to work at and a trail near the library we go to.
Wear long pants and long sleeved shirts. Seriously, on top of a good deal of fun, every climb I did gave me a good amount of scratches.
Climbing a tree is hard work. I woke up several mornings with sore arms and legs because I was using muscles and body parts that haven’t gotten their fair share of action lately. Want to get fit without the cost of a gym membership? Climb trees.
It’s really fun. There is a reason climbing trees is a favorite past time of the schoolyard. And it’s even more fun to do with someone. I enjoyed the two climbs where I wasn’t alone more than the solo climbs. To each his/her own. I liked having eyes on the ground to help me make decisions.
Sitting up in a tree is really peaceful. It is pleasantly quiet up in a tree and a great place for relaxing or thinking. If you’re able bodied and have some pondering to do it’s worth the work.
Thankfully my week of tree climbing came and went without too much excitement (read: I didn’t fall and die). Aside from the aforementioned scratches I took no damage. Well, I did end up ripping a pair of shorts to a point where modesty won’t allow me to wear them in public anymore, but that’s life and now my dresser drawers have a little bit more room to breathe. Half full, right?
It’s worth noting that even though I am not afraid of heights there was still a healthy amount of fear once I got high into the trees. A fall from thirty feet in the air could have some pretty serious consequences so my primary goal with each climb was to avoid falling. That meant I didn’t step out onto branches that made cracking noises under my weight but it didn’t mean avoiding calculated risks. At the end of the day, if you want to climb a tree you’ve got to get off of the ground and into the branches where there is less certainty. That’s true for anything in life. Sometimes you’ve got to go out on a limb.
Five Day Discipline didn’t start with an epiphany. There was no light bulb or “aha” moment. It started as an accident. Like Penicillin or the microwave but without saving lives or emitting radiation.
You’ve got to understand, I am the definition of “creature of habit”. I park in the same parking spot my whole life and order the same meal and wear the same clothes. I am that guy. But, one week I was eating lunch at a restaurant I had never been to before on a Tuesday and I realized that the day before I had also eaten somewhere I had never been. Counter to my nature I thought it might be fun to eat at new places the rest of that week to switch up my routine and make life a little more interesting. If you’re thinking that that’s a pretty mundane way to make my life more interesting I won’t argue with you, but sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll were out of the question. I’m too married for sex, too responsible (four kids) for drugs and frankly I’m too boring for rock ‘n’ roll. Simple as that.
Except I failed that first week. Because I didn’t know what Five Day Discipline was at the time I didn’t make a big scene when I was out with a coworker on Thursday and he decided he wanted ribs from a Dickey’s Barbecue (a place I had already eaten at). Who am I to keep a man from his ribs?
Despite my failure I had fun trying new food and looking for new places to eat. It made my week more interesting and therefore more enjoyable. So I decided that I would keep doing new things each week. Not food, but other things. Anything. As long as it wasn’t a part of my normal routine it would count. And so, Five Day Discipline was born. No light bulbs, only ribs.