Interview w/ Matt Beaudreau On Becoming A Self-Disciplined Individual

Several of our Launchpad students (high schoolers) have committed to undertake a 75-day challenge with our founder, Matt Beaudreau. The challenge includes 5 key parts: a new diet, consuming a gallon of water over each day, reading ten pages of a personal development book a day, tracking daily progress in a journal, and working out 1-2 times a day for at least 45 minutes. 

This challenge is a feat that will likely come a bit easier for Matt as he’s had much more life experience in being disciplined to achieve his goals. And as a father, husband, keynote speaker, entrepreneur, and avid keto-er, he’s got a lot to stay accountable to.  So when he had a calm moment from running around and getting work done, I sat down with him for an interview. 

“It’s more of a mental challenge if anything. It’s pretty exciting to see a shift already within these guys. I’m really excited to see how it goes, how they handle it and document the process. If you mess up and have a day that doesn’t work out then you have to start over from the beginning.”

This is obviously a project that requires a lot of discipline. It’s easier for you because that’s something you’ve actively practiced for awhile. So for students, or maybe even people who have lived their entire lives being undisciplined, how do you go about creating that from scratch?

“Discipline is one of those difficult things because it’s not something that we talk about or when we do talk about it, it’s in the context of disciplining someone or punishing somebody so we’ve associated discipline with being this bad word. You know, it’s interesting, so the guys, we all kinda talked around hey 75 days is tough, you’re gonna run into so many issues whether that’s family stuff, whether it’s somebody presenting this other kind of food, you’re running out of time in your day- it’s hard to get this water in, we’re going to run into some sort of issue. At that point when you’re 40 or 50 days in maybe you’re no longer motivated anymore. It’s the discipline that’s going to pull you into that. 

‘So developing that in the first place, it is literally like a muscle. People, I think, want more of this, “Alright, what’s the secret sauce? What is the formula?’ 

‘It’s a decision.”

He pauses.

“It’s literally a decision that I am going to create this habit for myself. You brush your teeth on a daily basis because it’s now a habit. You don’t always want to brush your teeth but you feel gross if you don’t do it. But it’s more the fact that you do that on a daily basis- it’s something that you just do. It’s part of your life and you made a decision at one point that it’s important to brush your teeth.

‘Developing discipline for anything, whether that is physical, financial, spiritual, whatever it is, is making that decision that no matter what, this is something that needs to get done in my life and I am going to figure out my systems- my day-to-day. What does my day-to-day look like so that I can integrate that part? You do that, you make that decision and you stay consistent. People say, ‘Oh do it for 21 days and that develops a habit.’ In reality, it takes as long as it takes for you to make up your mind that it’s an important part of who I am. Period. As soon as you have made that decision, then it becomes your habit. Then it becomes ‘It doesn’t matter how tired I am, how hungry I am, how unmotivated I am, this is just a part of what I do for my day-to-day life.’

‘I don’t care if I’m hungry, tired, sleep-deprived, sick, I don’t get to back out of taking care of my children. It’s just part of what I have to do. I have to take care of them no matter what. Discipline is the same thing, you put it on that level. My workout is just what I do, I’m going to get that in. So now the challenge is can we do that 75 days in a row? 

‘It’s not an esoteric thing, you make a decision and you move forward. It’s simple. It’s just not easy.”

When it comes to creating discipline and these different habits, is it more of a matter of making it work or is it a matter of creating a plan that works for you?

“There are two sides to this. I think that it is creating the plan that’s going to work for you but with the understanding that that planning is going to work 70, 80, 90 percent of the time. It will allow you to be consistent for part of that time and that’s great. But it’s preparing for the fact that 10, 20, 30 percent of the time that plan’s also not going to work out. So you can plan and say, ‘Hey every morning, 5:00 am this is when I’m going to get up.’ But there’s sometimes when you’re traveling, sometimes something’s kept you up at night and have not slept since 2 o’clock so you could get a couple of extra hours but you had decided 5 o’clock.

‘It’s setting it in stone but also planning you know what, if something gets thrown at me because life is always throwing something at you, you’ll figure out a way to get it done anyways. That’s what discipline means and that’s where it carries over to literally every other thing that you do. It’s the discipline in working out daily but it’s the discipline in your job to be the best you can and to go in on days where you just don’t feel motivated and go, okay I’ve got my schedule here in front of me and I’m going to do the best job I can and when something else gets thrown at me it’s the discipline of deciding that’s a part of it too. It’s essentially like everything else here at Acton, it’s a mindset. It’s purely a mindset. 

How do you go about figuring out a schedule if you’ve never had to do it before? For a lot of people, they often look at it as a blank slate and that can seem overwhelming.

“I think of it in two ways. One, define what you actually need to get done. When we’re talking about somebody having a blank canvas, is this a student? A parent? Are they working? What is that looking like? What do you actually need to get done in your life- day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month? What actually has to happen? From there, I always recommend, and this is one of the things we always do with our high school kids and something I do myself, is to break down the day into 20-minute segments. Now, does it always work out into 20-minute segments? Absolutely not. But I have that broken down and then I can go back at the end or beginning of the week and I can take a look and go I know from a macro level this is all the stuff I need to get done, I’ve got 20 minute segments here, was I efficient in accomplishing everything I needed to accomplish? What were the good things? What were the bad things? Where did I get thrown off? It’s monitoring that pattern and then adjusting accordingly. 

‘I can go, you know what, I don’t need this block of time here or I can scratch that thing altogether, or I need a bigger block of time here. Where can I take this time away? It’s a constant state of adjustment to create who you are. Once you get it down on paper and you can see it, then you can go okay, now I have an idea of where I’m going and you can adjust as necessary. You’re not just going to put it down and knock it out of the park right away. But, like anything else, you just start. You gotta start. You gotta start somewhere and adjust. Don’t figure out the perfect plan, just figure out a plan, make that plan, and then as things adjust, you adjust with it.