In life, I have found only one thing about which I can say without ego that I have kept strict discipline. I have tried with a great number of aspects in my life, and have come up short time and time again, but I continue to strive. The one thing that has never been a problem for me has been sticking to my vegan lifestyle.
As I reflect on this, I realize there’s a reason both for why I have kept up with being vegan and why I fail with everything else. When I made the decision to go vegan, it was because I had a fundamental shift in my mindset. I made a conscious decision that I would not be able to live with myself if I consumed animal products and I devoted months of mental energy to adapt my lifestyle to this new mindset.
Since then, I’ve thought many a time that it would be good to “eat right,” usually after reading a blog post or watching a video about health, and started on a poorly-planned diet the next day. Unsurprisingly, it’s never stuck with me. The problem has been that inspiration doesn’t last very long. I could feel inspired to start rising early but come time to get up when the alarm goes off, none of that inspiration comes to the forefront.
Another thing is that I’ve probably set a record for having the most “first day of the rest of my life” moments in a lifetime. Internally, it’s nearly every day that I’ve told myself that I’m going to start doing so many things that add up to my ideals. Even outwardly, I doubt my wife could recall the number of times I’ve gone to her and said, “That’s it, Jeeo. Starting tomorrow, I’m not going to be so lazy. I’m going to start doing X, Y, and Z and stop doing A, B, and C.” She’s been supportive at every instance, but I could never thank her enough for pointing out recently that every time I make the speech, I’m trying to make so many changes at the same time. If I chose one and focused on that only, I would surely have more success.
Putting the two together, I seem to have come upon the winning formula: Discipline comes with deep desire and focus. In order to keep discipline, the mind must hunger for that change. Internally, a strong desire felt will lend to that determination to keep up the practice. Focus comes with eliminating distractions. By giving oneself the mental resources to put toward making a single change, the mind doesn’t exhaust itself of its capacity and willingness to improve.
At another point in my life, I might have called it “going hardcore” on something, while some might call it “turning it up to 11.” Today, I call it “turning it up to vegan” to indicate the level to which I am dialing up my focus with the shift in mindset.