Purpose, Not Discipline

Purpose, Not Discipline

It’s my commitment to a purpose, not the discipline, that keeps me moving.

I tried exercise, and it didn’t work.

  • I tried running a few years ago, but I stopped because of shin splints and impossible work schedules.
  • I tried a fitness school, for several months, but I hated all the machines and uninteresting equipment.
  • I tried Pilates exercises, for a few days, but I found the exercises on a mat mind-numbingly boring.
  • I tried swimming, for a week or two, but the pool was always crowded and it was far away from my home.
  • I tried body-weight exercises, for exactly two days, but I found them too hard, which didn’t really motivate me.
  • And I tried yoga, for less than a week, but it was as least as boring as the Pilates exercises.

However, something has changed.


Nowadays, I run almost every morning (which I’m tracking with Endomondo). On my rest days, when I don’t run, I do sequences of workout exercises instead (assisted with the Workout Trainer app). And yesterday, I bought myself a cool mountain bike, so that I can swap the running for cycling in the woods, whenever I’m in Brussels.

Since a few weeks, I make sure I do at least something active every day!

Strangely enough, this week, my friends called me “extremely disciplined”. As if I had invented the word itself! They said, “Whenever Jurgen starts something, he goes all the way!”

I laughed about that. I merely had to point out all the failed attempts at healthy exercise, all those times I was unable to persist and be disciplined.

So, what is the difference now?

It’s About Purpose

I want the freedom (and capability) to run 20 or more kilometers, in every city, every park, and every forest in the world, and I want to run with pleasure, not pain.

That’s it.

That’s why I do those boring yoga and Pilates exercises now, after all. Because if I don’t, my core won’t strengthen and I won’t be running any long distances.

That’s why I will be adding body-weight exercises to my regular workout schedule. Because weak muscles lead to injuries and then I won’t be running at all.

That’s why I bought the expensive bike. Because riding a bicycle is one of the best cross-training workouts for long-distance runners, according to the experts.

Not About Discipline

Whether I’m disciplined or not is irrelevant.

My supposed “extreme discipline” obviously didn’t make a difference when I lacked an inspiring purpose during all those earlier failed attempts at regular exercise. It’s my commitment to a purpose, not the discipline, that keeps me moving. The idea of running along Lake Michigan in Chicago, or across Central Park in New York, is what gets me out of bed at 7:00am in the morning. Not the discipline.

Discipline makes me run with brushed teeth.

Purpose makes me run with a big smile.

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