“Discipline is giving yourself a command and following it up with the action.”
~ Bob Proctor
Self-discipline. What kind of associations does this word trigger in you? How do you understand this word?
Self-discipline is neither a genetically predetermined innate ability nor an uncanny superpower. It is never a result of coincidence and most definitely not a gift of a good fortune. So, what is it then?
Self-discipline is a personal philosophy, a philosophy of choice. And this choice is rather simple: it lies between choosing things that are hard and things that are easy. The latter promise instant gratification, the former lead to true fulfillment.
Contentment can never be drawn from carefree life. It comes from the feeling of achievement, self-actualization, and self-respect which in turn can only result from doing things that are hard. Life satisfaction is drawn in the process of overcoming obstacles.
Challenge is the only way of personal evolution. What can be more purposeful than living through the metamorphosis of awkward human larvae that succeeded to emerge as a mesmerizing papillon defying all struggles that took place inside the chrysalis? There is no greater triumph than becoming a product of your own creation.
Many people suffer from a crisis of meanings. Upon closer examination, it becomes clear that the crisis they go through is, in fact, not a crisis of meanings but a crisis of responsibility. Those who shuffle off the weight of responsibility hoping to avoid great suffering risk to stay on the sidelines of life. They fail to comprehend the obvious: the meaning of life is directly proportional to the amount of responsibility one is willing to shoulder. Millions struggle to synthesize their meanings because no one ever told them that. Evading the weight of responsibility, they don’t realize that its very heaviness is exactly what exerts the gravity that attracts the best things in life.
The truth is, in 99% of the situations we know exactly what is the right thing to do. Yet we often choose not to proceed because the rightest thing to do is usually also the hardest one. This is where self-discipline finds its inception. Self-discipline thrives from the insight that only hard things tread a path to the multiplication of value in your life and hence only those things are worth doing. The path of self-discipline is rugged but there is glory in it. It is the hard-won moment of completion that brings genuine satisfaction.
In the section about the Strategy of Life, we discussed a single mindset that defines the winner — the ability to choose things that are aligned with the long-term goals over the things that lead to momentary pleasure. This is what self-discipline really is: it is a choice to eliminate the redundant for the sake of long-term goals, a choice of what you want most over what you want now.
An adept of self-discipline discards counterproductive elements from his life on a day-to-day basis. For a self-disciplined person, the urge to identify and eradicate “chronophages” be it an attention-corroding activity, an intrusive acquaintance or a valueless material possession becomes a personal code. A self-disciplined person meticulously examines his own mind and detects beliefs that are slowing him down. Self-discipline and self-scrutiny walk hand in hand.
The life of a disciplined person is a life of a stoic. Stoics seek and cherish discomfort as a feeling of discomfort is a clear indicator of growth. For stoics, growth is the only acceptable life vector and that is why for them stepping into discomfort becomes a deliberate act. Constantly placing the body and the mind into the discomfort zone is the way a stoic expands his capacity for self-control.
Self-discipline is a lifestyle. Life of a disciplined person is designed around the rituals that bring him to the edge of the comfort zone every single day. A cold shower in the morning, the pain of training, coping with the hunger of fasting, dealing with the pressure of long hours of focused work — these are the activities that forge self-discipline. Every time you win the uncomfortable dispute inside your head choosing not to give in but instead to suppress that voice and act wilfully endues you with the force of character.
Everything you read here you’ve already heard thousands of times. There is nothing new under the sun. Maybe an extra repetition will add up weight to the statement: there is no magic pill for self-discipline. Dismiss the idea about a recipe for a strong will. There is no such thing.
Your life won’t change unless you do. I could arm you with proven tools to design your life and it all would make no difference because your personal war has to be won by you. You are the one who must walk the path.
I know one thing for sure: there is no success without self-control. No one ever lived a meaningful life indulging his animalistic instincts and pampering his character. There is no easy way to make dreams possible. You get up, you show up and you execute. You work your ass off — you get results. That’s it. Nothing supernatural. Life is really quite simple. It just takes a lot of discipline.
Suffer the pain of discipline or suffer the pain of regret. The choice is yours.
Thank you for reading my book “Meditations of the Millennial”.
If you want to support me on my mission, please, share this book with someone you love. Maybe they will find what they seek on its pages.