“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments.” – Jim Rohn
“We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.” – Jim Rohn
“The first and best victory is to conquer self.” – Plato
Remember the school days when you were supposed to do so many things at fixed times of the day? Do you still follow a strict regimen? Do you still get up at a fixed time? I think some people will say yes, there is work to go to. But how many of you go to bed at a fixed time? Hmmm. Not too many, I suppose.
Do you eat, work, exercise, rest, have fun, socialize at regular interval? Some people might have certain things that they do in a disciplined way, and then certain others that they try again and again but never get to do regularly. Maybe you want to get into a regular exercise routine, get better at your studies or your work. Maybe you want to become better at a hobby.
What is Self Discipline?
According to Wikipedia : Self-discipline refers to the training that one gives one’s self to accomplish a certain task or to adopt a particular pattern of behavior, even though one would really rather be doing something else. Thus, self-discipline is the assertion of willpower over more base desires, and is usually understood to be a synonym of ‘self control’.
Why is it required?
After you have set your eyes on a goal, the difference between being successful at it or failing, depends upon discipline. The accomplishment of any goal, no matter how small or big, is only as simple or as complex as following through and improvising your plans in a disciplined way.
When you start something along with other people, you will see some who will be very good at it, they will surge ahead of you and you might feel disheartened. But a lot of these gifted ones still not make it in the long run. On the other hand, a lot of people who are mediocre at it or even bad at it, will make it because they stick to it. They are the disciplined ones who do not give up.
Discipline takes out ‘paralysis of analysis’, the habit of analyzing for unnecessarily long periods, without action. Once the mind has been convinced that it’s reasoning further is not going to have any effect on the activity, it stops creating trouble.
When you start out to achieve something, you have a lot of enthusiasm. When your initial enthusiasm at a task fades away and gives way to doubts, to other temptations of falling back to your older, more comfortable routine, what rescues you is self discipline. To one who has not tried and tasted the benefits of discipline, it appears to be a form of self denial and restriction of freedom. The opposite is more true. Discipline is to achieve what you want through focused effort. When you just do what your mind wants, you become slave to your desires. Discipline ensures freedom by letting you decide what is good for you and doing it in spite of your mind. A disciplined person can achieve just about anything he/she sets sight on. Once you make discipline a habit, its not a question of if but when will you achieve your goal. It helps in setting more good habits which, in turn, help in all facets of life.
How to develop it.
1. Have a clearly defined primary goal. Having a purposeful life and a clear goal have so many benefits that it intrigues me. They help in improving focus, bringing about clarity, simplifying and disciplining the mind and more. Decide on your current primary goal. Once you have a goal that you really, passionately want to achieve, exercising self discipline becomes an obvious and easy choice.
2. Develop a routine. Create a road map of how you plan to achieve your goal. Divide your main goal into mini-goals. Plan a routine for your first mini-goal and follow it. Once you are done with it, pat your back, give yourself a small reward and get onto the next one. These routines will change as you gain more insight. Make sure that any change you make helps you become more efficient and aligned with the goal rather than to satisfy a craving to fall back to your old ways.
3. Its OK to not do your best every time. For anything I do, I have a tendency to either do my best or not do it at all. There are times when I don’t like what I am doing and have a strong urge to give it up, just for that while. On such days, I tell myself its OK to not do my best this time. This takes away the guilty feeling. I don’t have to spend energy in a long drawn mental fight with myself. When I do this, I feel more relaxed and usually I end up doing it better than my worst fears. Surprisingly, I find that on many such occasions, I enjoy it more than my regular days!
In the book ‘Immediate Fiction’, Jerry Cleaver gives this advice to writers- “Of all the advice writers give out, there is only one thing they all agree on. They all say: Stick to it. Don’t quit. Don’t give up. Keep writing no matter how awful it feels. Do your daily writing. Remember, its no different from the rest of your life, with its ups and downs.
A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”
In fact, while writing this very point, I felt I could improve it more and more and made several revisions. It still doesn’t seem right. But I realize the irony of it :). I get really particular sometimes. So I am letting it go with these words :
When you don’t feel like going through your daily routine, just accept you don’t want to do it and then do it anyway. Give it your best shot, however bad that may be and then let it go with love and peace in your heart.
4. Build it into your subconscious. In my practice of martial arts, I am made to do certain moves again and again, day after day. By doing these repeatedly, they get etched into our sub-conscious. After some time, we do not have to ‘rationalize’ in our minds what we have to do, it just comes naturally. When you repeat something over and over again, it becomes your automatic response, your ‘conditioning’. In an emergency, you usually don’t rise to any heroic levels, you fall to the level of your conditioning.
Steve Pavlina mentions a similar trick for waking up early. He suggests that, during the day, when you are fully awake, do certain repetitions of putting on your alarm for five minutes and then lying down. Get up when the alarm rings. When you do this over and over, it becomes your automatic response. When the alarm rings in the morning, you don’t have to rationalize whether you should get up or stay in bed(in morning, you tend to decide for the latter :)), you just get up!
Form good work habits this way. A conditioned mind doesn’t create any troubles.
5. Write a mission statement and read it twice everyday. Read it also when you feel like breaking your routine. A reminder of why are doing it can make the difference.
6. Give your self time for fun. Maintain good balance in life. If you go too hard, you won’t be able to last long. Act with love towards your work and towards your self. Allow yourself some regular fun activities – sports, other hobbies, whatever appeals to you.
7. Journal writing. At the end of the day, analyze how you fared against your set routine. Did you go slack somewhere? Do you see some changes that you can make to your routine to become more efficient? Make sure you don’t start blaming yourself for any slips. Just focus on improving things.