Why we hate discipline

Learn the most underrated antidote to fear and procrastination.

Ready for bed? Or maybe I should check Facebook one more time.
Ok. Time to brush my teeth. Oh, let me buy that thing now. Click.
The alarm rings. Five more minutes. Then ten.
Yes, I wanted to read that book but…a friend just invited me for drinks.
“No more spending this week”. Oh, come on, just one more.

If any of those sound familiar, you’re not alone.

In the age of instant gratification, discipline is shunned as the ultimate shade of boring. As not being able to flow and follow the meanders of life.

Discipline gets in the way of living.

But, when you take a closer look, discipline doesn’t hinder your way of living. It enables it.

Anything meaningful requires showing up. It requires stacking up the days and putting in the work in a consistent and predictable way.
Otherwise, it’s the classic diet loop: set a short-term goal for no particular reason (like a New Year’s resolution); do zero planning; change your behavior radically, from day one; and expect immediate results.
Most people give up within 2 weeks.

You could say discipline is the antidote to impatience, instant gratification, and shortcuts that don’t bring anywhere.

So…what is discipline?

Discipline vs Obedience

It doesn’t help that the verb to discipline means to punish, especially for not complying with a particular rule.

From an early age, we’re punished or rewarded for certain behavior.
Whether it’s school or family, we associate discipline with following someone else’s rules. Even if they don’t support your values or plans.

When you grow up, things change.
You decide, influence (and create) the rules of your own life. And when you can’t choose the rules, you can always choose the game.
Choose rules that support your values and plans.

Discipline vs Willpower

Discipline is often confused for willpower.
This is like confusing the gym for the bicep.

Discipline brings willpower, not the other way around.
It’s by training yourself to show up daily that you train stronger willpower.
The key is to start small (or smaller), and grow from there. You willpower bicep will grow too.

Discipline vs Rigidity

“Live a little”.

We often confuse discipline with rigidity.
With having to do without something. With a sense of loss or privation.
With self-imposed suffering. For nothing.

Discipline only gets in the way when you are rigidly trying to follow.
When you confuse flexibility for meandering.

To achieve your own goals, discipline is needed.
To embrace your own choices, discipline is used.
To carve your own self, discipline is required.

Discipline is the ultimate form of flexibility.

Discipline vs Long Term

It takes discipline to put off something you would like to do, but isn’t that important to you right now. It takes an understanding of good timing.

We want everything, and we want it now.
To know everything, to have everything, and to do everything.

But it’s only by aligning your commitments so that they support each other, not compete, that meaning is created. Instead of saying yes to everything, discipline says yes to what is important now.

Once you have mastered a skill or achieved an objective, then you can move onto something else, stronger than before.

The longer way is the shortcut.

Discipline vs Knowledge

Now we’re getting a tiny bit closer.
The term discipline is also used to mean “a branch of knowledge”.
This is key. It shows how any in-depth knowledge is attained through continuous, ruthless learning. By putting together different branches, passions, and pieces of information, but also through saying no to the irrelevant and the unimportant.

Knowledge is discipline.

Discipline equals Trust

Here’s a new definition of discipline.

Discipline equals self-trust.

Discipline tells you how much you can rely on yourself, and when.
Discipline shows how committed you are to your own way of living, to your values, and to your vision.

Discipline is nothing else than a swap of defaults.

From daily procrastination to a daily small action.
From relying on willpower to doing it out of habit.
From waiting for the right moment to doing at the moment.
From constant disappointment to constant motion.
From the fear of missing out to clarity and direction.

When you show up every day without exception, you can break big goals down into small steps. And then take action.

The most difficult things in the world must be accomplished through the easiest.
The greatest things in the world must be accomplished through the smallest.
Therefore the Sage never attempts great things, and so accomplished them.

– Tao Te Ching

What definition of discipline will you choose?

– Matt

This article first appeared on Crossover Blog.