Episode 13: Desire Over Discipline [Client Lessons #1]

All right, everybody. Happy Monday, and welcome to our first episode of my Lessons I’ve Learned From Clients series.

So, today, I want to talk to you about a client who came to us at Alliance Coaching because she hated running. Here’s the problem: this particular client was a member of the military so she needed to run, and not only did she need to run, but she needed to improve her running ability so that she could stay consistent with the fitness standards that she had for her role in the military.

So, I worked with this client personally, and I had such an amazing time working with this client because she really, really, really hated running. And when she came to me, she told me that she really just needed to build the discipline in her life to run even though she hated it. And so, for a while, we went down that road. We talked about structure. We talked about planning. We talked about various things that she could implement in her life in order to make running a more structured, rigid situation. But she was still experiencing all of this intense resistance. Anytime the run was on her calendar, she would put it off and put it off and put it off until, eventually, it never really happened.

So, about a month in, we decided to pivot our approach, and what we ended up doing is focusing on the lesson that I want you all to take today which is, oftentimes, it’s more effective to build desire than discipline. I’ll say that one more time. It’s more effective to build desire than discipline. So, if you have a task you hate that needs to be done, typically, your instinct is going to be exactly like this client, to tell yourself you have to do it and make it structured, and you have to be more disciplined and you have to have more willpower, and I know it sucks, you just have to get it done.

But what I worked on with this client (and the reminder that I have for you today) is that it is possible for you to change your desire or your appreciation of any task. Now, you don’t have to. If you want to commit to hating cleaning the toilet, that’s totally fine, but what I’m reminding you here is that if you want to decide that you’re going to enjoy the process of toilet-cleaning, that is within your prerogative. Learning to like something is a skill. It is a process, and that’s exactly what I told this client when our approaches weren’t working, and I asked her, “Is there a possibility that we can work on getting you to enjoy running rather than trying to force yourself into doing something you hate?” She said to me, “Karin, I don’t think that’s possible. I’ve hated running my whole life.

So, first, we just worked on that. I said, “What if it was possible? If it was possible, what would it look like to believe that you could improve at your love for running? That your love for running could increase. And maybe it’s not even love. Maybe it’s just we move from hate to semi-neutrality about running.”

So, we have a couple exercises in Alliance Coaching. One is called The Belief Plan, and it has you actually build a ladder of beliefs that you can use to get to something you want to believe that you don’t believe now. So, we had her do that particular activity, and over the next couple of months, we really worked on learning to love running.

So, at first, she went outside and she just focused on appreciating the sights and sounds around her. She decided to run in the prettier places that she had access to, she focused on how nice it was to be outside, and she allowed herself to hate the process of running but at least enjoy being outside.

Then, we focused on her physical sensations during running. We focused on learning to appreciate the feeling of being out of breath or breathing really heavily when running when that was something that before used to be kind of a negative mindset experience for her. So, we focused on that for a while, and then she got used to it, and eventually, she got to the point where she actually started to, quote, “not mind running.” And so, that was great, and we shifted, and we focused on other things, but the best part about this client’s story is that another two or three months later in one of her check-ins, she mentioned that she had been stressed about work, and I shit you not, this is what she said. She said, ”I was really stressed about work, so my instinct was to go for a run, and after the run, I felt so much better.”

All of this is to say it is possible for us to change our appreciation or experience of a certain task. Your desires in life are not bound to you. They are not put on you by something else and you’re stuck with them. You can learn to desire something more and you can learn to desire something less. It just might take a little bit of practice.

I hope that helps you today. I hope it was a story that kind of got your brain going, and as a reminder, we are doing a special right now. So, if you sign with us in Alliance Coaching for six months, you get a discounted price. So, if you want to work on choosing desire over discipline, definitely check that out. Have a great day!


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Hi, I'm Karin

I’m a funfetti flavor super-fan, a loving dog mom, a PhD expert in mindset and behavior change… and I’m here to help make personal development and transformation a process that’s actually fun.


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