Discipline. Does the word intimidate you? Do you disdain the thought? Do you cherish its contributions to your success? Do you struggle to know what discipline really is? "Discipline" is a word that can provoke strong -- and revealing -- internal reactions. There is, however, one way you can view discipline that will empower you to change your life.
Many standard definitions of discipline imply a self-denying sort of training, as if a disciplined person has beaten his will into submission. When I consider the common views of discipline, I picture a soulless robot perfectly repeating his programming as a results-producing machine, cranking through task after monotonous task. In stark contrast to the self-mutilating view, I propose an enlightened view that shows how discipline can only make your life better; all other ways will create crutches you will use to hold yourself back. Consider the following new definition of discipline:
> Discipline is the practiced ability to freely choose whatever you want to do.
That definition looks pretty standard until the end: "whatever you want to do?" Wasn't the point of our childhood or church background to teach us to deny what we want, and do what somebody that knows better tells us to do? That, my friend, is a damning view, and it has claimed so many of us as victims at different stages in our lives. The problem is, so few of us truly understand what we really want. When you think of what you want to do, do you think of sitting on the couch playing video games with friends, or watching football over some beer, or dancing with your beloved late into the night? Those can all be fine things to want at certain times. However, do you ever find yourself wanting more? Stop for a moment and think of things you definitely want - include long-term goals.
The answers lies in the word "whatever" in the definition. Discipline doesn't just help you train the ability to repeat a few of the things you want to do and repeat them ad nauseam. Discipline teaches you how to do whatever you want. Don't you really, really, way deep down, want that stack of bills to be taken care of? Sure, part of you may not want to deal with it right now, but other parts of you know how much better you would feel if it were finished, and what simpler strategy can there be to getting what you want than doing things that make you feel better? As you learn discipline, you will appreciate the value of choosing to do boring chores at a good time, as you will reap the reward of eliminating stress factors in your life.
So how do you get to the point where you no longer feel like sitting around on the couch, or cursing at your overdue bills, or sitting at the same bar with the same coworkers cheering for the same team? Simply be aware that you have more options. The next time you see that that pile of to-dos, stop and consider the consequences of taking care of them vs. not taking care of them. Did you have something truly better to do? Something else that will advance your life further and make you feel positively better about yourself? You know inside as you read my words that the relaxing, "pleasure" activities you do now are actually wearing you down. I am describing to you a situation that you are exactly one day away from: a situation where you are practicing making the right choices, the choices that you already know are for the better.
How do you practice making good choices? You start making more choices. Stop habitually going to the same bar, playing the same video game, sitting in the same chair; become aware of how many more options you really have. You will feel wonderfully liberated as you view all the options in front of you. So now that you see how disciplined you can be, why wouldn't you be making the right choices?
Apparently, you didn't want to.