Updated: Jan 28, 2021
Discipline - unwavering commitment towards one's intentions
Last summer, I wrote a piece for Thrive Global and its community, outlining 10 steps which can bring us closer to fulfilling our potential. Number 1 on that list? You guessed it.
Discipline. My first post on this blog also makes it clear that discipline is the key to everything we seek. But why? How is discipline connected to our underlying purpose and how can discipline enable us to identify and then follow through on fulfilling our potential?
Well, because discipline is what keeps our 'wants' and 'needs' in check. That voice in our head which influences the majority, if not all of the decisions we make, needs to be kept in check.
Who can do that?
Only we can.
How can we do that?
By choosing to make decisions which improve our habits, our daily life and ultimately our mindset.
This will in turn improve our outlook on life, will make us more productive, more driven and more importantly, will gives us the clarity required to look within.
Today's society is filled with distractions, more so than any other period in human history. What does this mean? It means that discipline is more important than ever and it will be the defining characteristic in your journey. Whether we are trying to become better at controlling our egos, whether we are making efforts to be less reactive in uncomfortable situations, or to establish a healthier, more fulfilling routine, the essence of it all can be found in discipline. Whether you are starting out on your journey of personal development or whether you have been on that journey for a while, discipline will come up at one stage or another.
Discipline is the key to self-mastery.
Whether you decide to try your very best at work despite any of the challenges you may encounter (and this could be a long list), is a decision only you can make, and nothing can stop you. It doesn’t matter how hard your job is and it doesn’t matter how difficult the people around you are. The way you react is your choice. The same applies if you are a student, apprentice, intern etc. Whether you decide to allocate an hour on a Friday evening to workout, or to read, while other people head to a bar, or to a club - is your decision to make, and nothing can stop you from making this and other decisions which will help you feel better in the long run, and enable you to achieve your daily goals.
Discipline will ensure you make the right decisions, and the funny thing is that discipline is a choice too.
You don’t need to learn it before you can benefit from it. All you have to do is choose it, right this very moment, and you’ll start to see your life transform itself. The problem is, people tend to conform to societal norms which often encourage a lack of discipline. Haven’t you noticed how everything that surrounds us, exists only because we have very little discipline: social media, designer brands, fast food etc.
To be disciplined is to be in complete control of your actions and reactions, your habits, thought processes, and decision making.
The only way to actually improve our discipline is to consciously decide, right now, that we'll make better choices with regards to how we live our life, and that we'll stick to those choices.
A few questions to consider:
1. Do you feel anxious?
Identify one thing which relaxes you and make sure to start your day off with it.
Identify three things which make you feel anxious and cut them out. Completely.
2. Do you feel like you could be doing more with your life?
Perfect. Make the choice to start at this very moment.
Forget a picture perfect start.
3. Does your circle positively influence you?
If not, change the people you surround yourself with.
Even if they are people you can't technically cut out, find a way to limit your interactions with them.
4. Is social media blurring the lines of reality and making you feel like there's so much you want and cannot get?
Refrain from spending so much time on it (if you don't use social media, I applaud you).
Start by never snoozing your alarm.
Start by choosing to exercise a bit before you begin your day.
Start by choosing a healthy breakfast or decide to implement intermittent fasting.
Start by choosing to spend your first minutes meditating instead of scrolling on your phone.
Start by choosing to believe in yourself and your journey.
See, all of the above, can be fine-tuned, right this very moment, but the decision is yours. I can sit here and write or sell you a number of cool concepts, but the only way to help ourselves is to help our-selves.
My motivation is to point you in an additional direction because it might work for you as it has worked for me. In order to live the life we want, we will have to spend countless hours looking within, fine tuning our habits, rewiring our outlook, changing what doesn't work and maintaining what works.
So much has been written on personal development, growth, finding our purpose etc., millions of copies have been sold, and yet, a large portion of adults live unfulfilled lives.
Well, there may be tons of good articles and books out there which give us a framework for going out and achieving our dreams by doing a, b and c, but the majority of contributions consider discipline to be a given, and it isn't. Everyone I know, including myself, struggles with discipline, but it is discipline that distinguishes the highest performing athletes, academics, CEOs.
It is important to consider success in this discussion. In the same way that writers and influencers take discipline to be a given, they take success to mean the same thing for everyone, and it doesn't. Success to me may be very different to your definition of success.
Discipline on the other hand is the same for both you and I because it works in two ways. A disciplined life will allow us to look within, which will help us identify our purpose. Once we start working towards fulfilling that purpose, it is discipline which will help us stay on our path without being distracted by the way other people live their lives, or by the way others define success. In other words, discipline is a way of life and we will have to apply it through every action we take, in every decision we make and at every crossroad we encounter.
That's the bad news.
The good news?
Discipline depends on you.
No-one else can truly influence how disciplined you are.
Some of you may want a clearer idea of how to go about being more disciplined.
Every time you are about to do something, pause and ask yourself: am I contributing to who I want to be by doing what I am about to do?
If the answer is no, you know what to do.
1. Commit to a disciplined life that is just as fun, adventurous, creative and fulfilling
2. Understand that you can start to transform your life at this very moment
3. Ask yourself what is working & what isn't working, and adjust accordingly
4. Focus on your own definition of success and on being the best version of yourself