Three Ways to Grow in Discipline
I have noticed a distinct lack of discipline in the current generation of people. There is frequently a focus on the now and instant gratification. All those dopamine hits must be good, right? I am afraid that the constant seeking for immediate rewards will lead people to shallow goals and even emptier results.
Discipline is a scary word to most folks. It means self-control, a sacrifice of some sorts to be made in order to achieve something greater. It scares us because we cannot simply let ourselves go and live in the moment. We can’t just veg cand call that discipline.
With all that in mind, I’ve arrived at three ways to grow in discipline. I think they will be of benefit to anyone striving to live a more ordered life.
- Stop breaking promises to yourself
- Set goals
- Tie discipline with something physical (because body + soul is person)
1: Stop Breaking Promises to Yourself
The next time you say “you’ll be there in five minutes”, actually count how long it takes you. If it’s more than 5 minutes, you’re breaking a promise to yourself. You’re implicitly saying that you cannot commit to yourself and to your word. Back in the heyday of civilization, your word meant your honour. Another subtle way of breaking a promise is your dreaded alarm clock. If you snooze half-a-dozen times on the regular, you might as well not have your alarm. You’re lying to yourself when you say that you’ll actually wake up at the hour that you decided upon the night before.
Start with simple promises like, “I’ll go to bed when my timer goes off”, or “I’ll stop after this single Lays chip”. Better yet, force yourself to enter the situation where it is hard to break that promise. Pour out the chips you plan to eat in a bowl and don’t eat straight from the bag. Don’t start a new movie right before your timer goes off to head for bed. Start simple!
2: Set Goals
This point is more contentious, but I think it’s important to set mini-goals for yourself. You grow in discipline by keeping those promises, and I find goals to be just that. Make them actionable, do-able, and set yourself up for success. Throughout the day, I play little games with myself to keep up my motivation. “I wonder if I can study for another 30 minutes? If so, I’ll reward myself with some podcasts.” or “I’m going to hit the gym today even if it’s a grueling workout, but I’ll eat a bunch of food after if I do.” As long as these goals are attainable and push you towards positive aspects, all the power to you. Life should be fun. By setting goals, you give yourself trust that you can accomplish what you set out to do and the discipline becomes an active and contributing power.
3: Tie Discipline with Something Physical
As people, we are composed of both body and soul. That means that we need nourishment for both aspects of ourselves to grow in right manner. If discipline is growth for your soul, an accompanying physical aspect will assist in forming these new habits. When I set goals, I make sure to involve my body. If I want to stretch everyday for 30 minutes, I make sure to set up a certain position or move to a different location in my home to trigger my body into thinking that there’s a novel situation and that it must be engaged. By tricking your body, you also trick your mind to some extent. Another example of tying discipline with the physical is waking up early. Although this isn’t anything new, by putting your alarm out of arm’s reach, it forces your body to accompany you to form the discipline of waking up. I put my alarm all the way outside of my bedroom down the hall. That way, I’m forced to get out of my bed and out the door to stop the ringing. By then, I’m sufficiently awake enough and have thus grown my discipine that much more.
If I haven’t firmly convinced you by now why discipline is so important, I’m happy to tell you about the occasions I’ve noticed in my life that have changed because of discipline.
There are so many accomplishments that I thought I would never have achieved without discipline. By being true to yourself in small ways, you grow in trust that you can commit to more and more farfetch’d goals. By waking up early almost every day (5-6AM), I know that I can push my body past what it would like to be comfortable. From there, I began studying a new language, lifting heavier and heavier weights, and becoming healthier and healthier. I have gained so much more confidence from knowing that I can rely on myself to deliver when I need to.
I hope you enjoyed this note and I wish you all the best of luck with growing in discipline!