Prioritising discipline

Prioritising discipline
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This post was written by Irene Morales

Introduction

In previous posts we have defined how to achieve the life we want (love contracts, treating life as a project, crafting a meaningful life…), In our pursuit of personal growth and fulfillment, we often encounter a common challenge: despite the abundance of advice and resources available on achieving our desired life, a lot contained in our blog post (map of life, setting a baseline, treating life like a business, having “a light at the end of the tunnel“, crafting a purposeful life, treating life as a project…), many of us still struggle to live our best lives.
Why is this the case? There are two primary reasons: a belief that life should unfold naturally without conscious planning, and a lack of consistency. While we have previously explored the importance of consciously crafting a meaningful life, in this post, we will delve deeper into the second point: the crucial role of consistency and discipline in achieving lasting progress and fulfillment.


This post contains...

  1. 🧮 Systems
  2. 🕰 The Illusion of Motivation
  3. 🪨 Discipline
  4. 📺 The problem with instant gratification
  5. 🪆Practical Strategies for Cultivating Discipline
  6. 📌 Final thoughts

Systems

Within the realm of discipline lies the concept of systems. Systems provide the structure and framework upon which meaningful living is built. They act as guideposts to the person we want to become and the life we want to have. Therefore, it’s systems we should prioritise.
Whether it's designing a morning routine to enhance productivity or establishing habits that prioritize self-care, systems empower us to make intentional choices that lead to sustainable progress.
Crafting a system tailored to our unique needs and aspirations ensures that our actions become ingrained in our daily lives, eliminating the need to rely solely on fleeting motivation.

This photo was taken by Sam Moghadam Khamseh in 2017.

The Illusion of Motivation

In our quest for personal growth and achievement, motivation often takes center stage. We are driven by the exhilarating feeling of excitement and inspiration, propelling us forward on our chosen path. However, what if our reliance on motivation is misplaced? What if the feelings that guide our actions are more misleading than we realize?
Motivation, by its very nature, is transient. It ebbs and flows, influenced by external stimuli, circumstances, and even our own fleeting emotions. Relying solely on motivation leaves us vulnerable to its unpredictability. We may find ourselves enthusiastic and driven one day, only to be disheartened and lacking in enthusiasm the next. Embracing motivation as the sole driving force behind our actions can lead us astray, as it often fails to provide the consistency required for sustainable progress.

Blank billboard outdoor

Discipline

It is in this context that the power of discipline emerges—a steadfast anchor that allows us to navigate the complexities of life.
Discipline, unlike motivation, is not dependent on fleeting feelings or external circumstances. It is a deliberate choice—a commitment to consistent action, regardless of the whims of motivation. Discipline is the anchor that grounds us, enabling us to build systems and routines that support our goals and desired way of life. By cultivating discipline, we gain the resilience and perseverance necessary for long-term progress and personal growth.

Through discipline comes freedom -Aristotle
Monks of Ba Vang Pagoda (northern Vietnam) walking meditation in the natural forest
https://bavangpagoda.com/

The problem with instant gratification

In our fast-paced, digital world, instant gratification poses a significant challenge to our discipline and long-term goals. We often find ourselves seeking quick and effortless pleasures, succumbing to the temptations of social media and instant entertainment. The problem arises when these momentary gratifications overshadow our commitment to disciplined action and the systems we've established.

Simple habits like applying sunscreen or reading before bed may appear easy, yet many struggle to consistently incorporate them. Why? Because instant gratification offers an easier alternative in the short term. Our brains have become wired to seek immediate rewards, gravitating toward mindless scrolling rather than the effort of disciplined choices.

Discipline is choosing between what we want now, and what we want more.
A Trailer of the Future

Practical Strategies for Cultivating Discipline

So whilst instant gratification may offer temporary satisfaction, it undermines our path to intentional living. We must recognize the challenges it presents and consciously choose disciplined action, even if difficult.
However, discipline is not an innate quality that some possess and others lack. It is a skill that can be developed through consistent practice and intentional effort. Here are some practical strategies to help cultivate discipline in your life:

Mindful Consumption: Be mindful of what you expose yourself to, such as social media, advertisements, or impulsive online shopping. Take a step back and question whether the content or purchase aligns with your long-term goals and values. Practice self-restraint by consciously choosing to engage with content that adds value or supports your personal growth.

Delayed Gratification Exercises: Incorporate delayed gratification exercises into your daily life. Challenge yourself to postpone immediate pleasures or rewards in favor of long-term benefits. For example, resist the urge to check your phone every few minutes, delay indulging in a sugary treat, or save money for a meaningful investment rather than impulsive purchases. By intentionally delaying gratification on the easy things, even if you’re not completely cutting it out, you strengthen your self-control and build resilience against instant gratification temptations such as binge eating or laying in bed watching tiktok for 5+ hours.

Embrace Discomfort: Our systems sometimes fail because of our desire to avoid discomfort or escape challenging situations. By deliberately embracing discomfort, you train yourself to tolerate and navigate through difficulties. Engage in activities that push you out of your comfort zone, such as regular exercise, pursuing new skills, engaging in uncomfortable conversations or even just taking cold showers every morning. By willingly facing and overcoming discomfort, you develop resilience, patience, and the ability to make choices based on long-term benefits rather than short-term relief.

Build a Supportive Environment: Surround yourself with individuals who share your commitment to self-discipline and long-term success. Seek out like-minded communities, mentors, or accountability partners who can provide support, encouragement, and inspiration. By building a supportive environment, you create a network that reinforces your dedication to self-discipline and minimizes the influence of societal norms.

Mac vs Samsung

Conclusion

In a world often driven by the allure of motivation and fleeting feelings, discipline emerges as a beacon of stability and consistency. It entails recognizing when our motivation wanes and proactively leveraging our systems to stay on course. It means cultivating a deep-rooted commitment to our chosen path, even when motivation feels distant.

Remember, discipline is not about perfection but about progress, it takes effort but it doesn’t have to be hard. Start small, try and practice discipline in the smallest areas of your life multiple times a day and the gradually increase the scope of your disciplined actions focusing on the systems you build. Be patient with yourself and celebrate each step forward, knowing that discipline is a lifelong journey.