“Through discipline comes freedom.” (Aristotle)
If there is one thing that all successful people have in common, is discipline. Discipline is the basis of success. Nonetheless, the word seems to have a negative connotation for many of us. It remind us of school, work, law enforcement, the military and we associate it with rules, punishment and strictness. We start getting ‘disciplined’ since our early years. We are told what we have to eat and when to go to bed and we are told that we cannot play until we have finished our homework. Later in life, we have to obey the law, we have to follow work policies, and we have to be able to function in society or we will be punished. As adults, we change from a state of explicit discipline to one of implicit discipline. We are expected to act and behave a certain way, but ultimately we have the freedom not to comply. If we don’t however, there will be consequences. It’s how the world woks, and there is nothing we can do about it.
Return to a state of explicit discipline
If you have a path that you want to follow, you have to explicitly implement discipline in your life. Positive habits can only be implemented through discipline. Change that lasts can only be implemented through discipline. And our goals, yes you’ve guessed it, can only be achieved through discipline.
But how about creative people? Musicians, writers, etc.? Well, let me tell you something, do you think Jimmy Hendrix learned to play the guitar and developed his own style by simply picking up his instrument whenever he felt like it? Do you think most writers just write when they are inspired? The answer to both questions is no. The story goes that Hendrix would even sit on the toilet and play his guitar. All creative people put hours upon hours of work into their craft. They don’t wait for inspiration. ‘Need’ has a superior meaning than ‘want’. You might not want to do it, for a number of reasons, but you have to do it. Discipline will reward you. Always.
I can tell you my routine every single day. With the exception of time assigned to do ‘other activities’, I mostly follow a daily routine that goes in accordance with my life vision. As an example, I wake up and go to bed at the same time every day. I lift 5 days a week, without exception. I play bass guitar and write on a weekly basis and I have a job 9-5 Mon-Fri. Obviously, there is more to it, but for illustration purposes, lets focus on these aspects of my life.
Seems pretty boring eh? Well, allow me to provide you with a brief explanation of how this all comes together and ultimately, works.
By having a regular sleeping pattern I can rest properly, which allows me to recover physically and mentally. It boosts my immune system and provide me with a better quality of life. Lifting 5 days a week is training. Not just ‘a workout’. Training. I compete in Powerlifting and I train to increase my total. I have a clearly defined strategy to do this and only through discipline I can implement it. I play in a band, so playing my instrument on a regular basis is important, for both creative and practical reasons. The same goes for writing. Working 9-5 allows me to pay my bills and live the lifestyle I want at this stage of my life. It allows me to buy whatever I need, to pay for accommodation, food and entertainment. For now, it’s enough. It also leaves me with plenty of time to pursuit my other interests in life.
See how all this works? Now, this lifestyle is deemed to change, as my goals change, over time. It is up to me to explicitly discipline myself to do whatever I need to do in order to achieve those future goals.
It is a simple process to implement positive discipline in your life. Make your own rules. And follow them. How hard these will be to follow will depend on the amount, impact and nature of the rules you set for yourself. Start with baby steps and increase over time. Get your routine sorted according to your life vision. You will be grateful for it for years to come.