Every dream, goal and plan comes down to being self-disciplined enough to get through the rough parts and the ability to stay committed until completion.
Self-discipline is our unique ability to control our urges, wants, desires and our emotions in order to reach our goals. It is a mindset that must be built upon so that we make the right choices daily to guide our lives in the direction that is best. It means we must give up small momentary pleasure in order to gain lasting happiness.
I was thinking about where I learned self-discipline. One place I am sure I learned it was when I was at Army and Navy Academy in Carlsbad, California. The morning wake-up bugle call reveille would sound at 6:15am. Your bed had to be made, you had to dress with shined shoes, brass for inspection. I used to get up at 5:30am so I could shower with plenty of hot water and take my time.
I was never in a rush to get ready and out to the quad for formation. There really is something special about being awake while the world around you slumbers. I committed to waking up early at a young age, and it has followed me through my whole life.
When I lived in New York I used to walk two miles every morning at 5am, then get two newspapers and a coffee before I came home. This would set the pace for my day. I felt like it let me get in front of the day before others were awake. I also feel like I have been able to get more finished in my life with this “extra” time.
People always talk about how they do not have any extra time. Why not find that time before the day starts?
Many people feel that being self-disciplined will mean that they will have to give up much of what they feel is good about their lives. There is no doubt that when shifting towards a more disciplined lifestyle your life will change. It does not have to be bad or painful. Examine your life and decide what is important to you. If eating and drinking whatever you wish with no limits is what is important then look at the inevitable outcome. You get to live with obesity, heart disease, and a host of other ailments. How about staying up late to surf the internet or binge watch your favorite show? You must accept being tired at work or school the next day, and not performing well.
What if instead, you choose to eat food that is filled full of nutritional value. Drink more water, keeping yourself hydrated. How would those choices harm you? Eating healthy foods does not mean a diet, it just means choosing the right tasty things to fuel your body. How about choosing to read a chapter of a book each night before bed and get to sleep at a reasonable hour?
Everyone has heard the phrase, “You just have to do it.” It is much easier said than done for the average person with years of bad habits ingrained in their life.
So start small with something that you can do very easily. If you need extra time in your day, how about waking up an hour earlier? If you would like to lose weight, how about starting with a walk every morning before breakfast without fail.
If you make a commitment and stick with it, no matter what, it will translate into other areas of your life. That means you must throw out all the excuses of the past… the “I’m too tired,” “I have no time,” “My alarm did not go off,” or “I’m not feeling well.”
Once you make a habit of the first small change for a month, it’s time to commit to another small change. After a few months of these small victories under your belt, you can clearly see the changes that have come from your new found self-discipline.
This is something that you cannot buy. There is no magic pill. You have to be committed and work on it a little bit every day. Think about this for a minute: why does the diet and self-help industry bring in billions a year? They know that people do not want to put in the hard work necessary for lasting change. A lot of people are looking for the easy way because we all hope there is a way.
The bottom line is that every journey begins with that first step and then continuing to step even when you don’t feel like it.
You must decide what it is you want in the long term. Once you have the goal in mind it will help you push aside the many distractions that will inevitably arise. You may feel discomfort along the way, but knowing that is part of the process makes it bearable. It is time to make decisions that benefit you for the long term. Surround yourself with other people who are self-disciplined and cheer each other on.
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
21 For your ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all your paths. 22 The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast. 23 For lack of discipline they will die, led astray by their own great folly.