Discipline: a word that often comes with countless connotations; some people cringe at it while others crave it.
What do you think of when you hear the word discipline?
Do you instantly cringe thinking of strict rules and someone endlessly shouting at you? Do you transport back to your youth with your parents speaking over you condescendingly while you try to explain yourself?
Or, do you look forward to discipline in your life? Do you crave routine? Does the word discipline cause you to think of organization, a clear mind, and balance? Does discipline remind you of reaching your goals?
I think it is important to assess our relationship with discipline, how it makes us feel, and why it makes us feel that way. Getting to the root of why we feel the way we do towards it will help us implement a healthy relationship with discipline.
When I think of discipline my mind wanders to organization, structure, rules, and regulations. Which in all honestly, I crave. I love having all of those things in my life, because (for me) they act like guidelines of how to succeed.
I will be the first to admit that my organizational skills are lacking, but I still deeply crave it and am continually trying to improve. I love ensuring I have structure, rules, and regulations in my life. I need discipline because without a consistent routine I paralyze myself in all aspects.
My life seemingly falls apart when I am undisciplined and unorganized. It feels as if I am in one of those dreams where you are running as fast as you can and yet you never go anywhere. I miss appointments, my house becomes a disaster, everything feels overwhelming, and I feel like I never accomplish anything I want to.
People NEED discipline, organization, structure, rules, and regulations. Individually and as a society we flourish when these are a part of daily life. Without discipline we are left with a chaotic mess. We see this all the time!
We need discipline, rules, and regulations at work, in our relationships, in our fitness and health regimes, in our finances, and in our homes. Without these things I doubt anyone would be able to hold a job , relationships would fall apart, we would never be organized, we would never succeed at anything, and we would be dead broke. Our lives would be a literal and figurative mess.
You guys, I know that as necessary as being disciplined is, it is so much easier said than done.
In fact this year one of my goals heading into 2019 was to be more organized. I quickly realized that if I wasn’t being organized there must be areas in my life that I need more discipline in. I began to ponder what it was I needed to focus on in order to ensure I had a more organized life.
A few years ago, when I was extremely dedicated to a consistent gym routine, I had a friend ask how I stayed so consistent and motivated. At the time I just laughed, “I don’t know. I just go every day after work, because if I didn’t go then stepping on the rugby field would suck”.
Looking back at that I realized that my answer, even though it seemed vague, had two key factors in it: consistency/routine and a goal. I had a made routine of going everyday immediately after work. I consistently and intentionally carved that time out of my day and rarely made plans that would interfere. I was able to be so intentional about this routine BECAUSE I had a real and tangible goal: being a better rugby player.
The last quarter of 2018 my fitness routine took a dive. There were a few different reasons for this, however one of the reasons being that I had no goals and no strict routine. Previously, I wanted to be in shape for rugby, or hiking, or my wedding; but now there were no immediate goals.
The point I am trying to drive home here is that having a tangible goal is essential to discipline. Having a goal motivates us to be intentional about setting a routine, it reminds us why we are doing what we do, and it challenges us to push harder to succeed in whatever it is we are doing.
While setting your goals do not be afraid to share your goals with others. Whether it be a few close friends or your entire Instagram account, telling people helps hold you accountable. It can be so easy for us to give up on ourselves or let ourselves down, however that becomes incrementally more difficult when we have others watching, expecting, and encouraging.
Having a goal, a routine, and sharing it with others is what motivates me to write each week. If I had never publicly stated that I was going to post each Monday, I would not have the drive to put a new post up each and every week. Even though I enjoy it I can easily get distracted and unmotivated, so in the beginning I knew that I had to publicly set a day to post. Not only does this hold me accountable, but it also sets a routine.
However, I can’t lie, sometimes even when we set goals and have a good routine, it can still be difficult to ensure that you maintain discipline simply because you no longer find enjoyment in what you are doing. And if you don’t have enjoyment then chasing your goals and staying disciplined quickly becomes a struggle and will most likely lead to burnout.
With this in mind try to make whatever it is you are doing more enjoyable! If you are working towards fitness goals exercise in a way that is enjoyable to you! Just because everyone else is lifting weights doesn’t mean you have to. Find what works best for you, and then don’t be afraid to have some fun with your workouts and try new things!
If you are working towards a financial goal don’t deprive yourself of doing things, just try to do expensive things less and replace them with things that are inexpensive, but still fun!
If you are trying to be more disciplined in doing tasks like homework (or for me writing), try to pair it with something enjoyable. For me this looks like putting on some chill music, lighting candles, and making a snack while I write. Doing this helps me focus and “get in the zone”, and also makes it something I actually look forward to.
AND if you are trying to be more organized (like me), then I suggest investing in a daily planner/agenda. I also have a giant whiteboard calendar hanging on my wall where I can not miss it. This way I can write everything in at the beginning of the month, which helps me visualize my schedule and get in the mindset of what I want the coming month to look like. Schedule in time for the gym, time to clean, when you are getting together with friends, etc.
No matter what I am doing I am always more disciplined and focused when I remove myself from technology. I find that deleting certain apps off of my phone or simply leaving my phone in another room ensures that I accomplish what I set out to do. I also it helps to write my rough draft for my blog post in my notebook instead of on my laptop. This makes it so that I don’t mindlessly wander over to Facebook or Netflix.
Don’t be afraid to implement rules and regulations for your life. When you say yes to something that means that you are saying no to everything that isn’t that. Make sure you are using your “yes’s” wisely.
Setting boundaries in your life is a must if you yearn for more discipline and organization in your life. Don’t feel obligated to do something if it isn’t in line with your goals and/or your values. Often time we get overwhelmed because we aren’t setting boundaries and prioritizing things that we must. For example, I used to cave and spend way more money than I should have constantly going out with friends. I said yes simply because I didn’t want to feel like I was letting them down. I said yes to too many things and ended up exhausted with no time to do things I needed to.
I still spend time with my friends, however now I am just more aware, I am more cautious with what I say yes to, and this ensures that I don’t feel stressed out financially and I don’t feel like I am running to make time to accomplish my goals.
Being disciplined is not done overnight, and it does not have to be a something that fills you with dread. Setting small tangible goals to start with will make it seem so much more attainable (i.e. if you want to be more clean just start by picking up a few things each day).
I believe that having discipline will help you flourish in all aspects of your life. For me I realized that the key factors are: setting goals, establishing routine, finding a way to switch things up and ensure they remain enjoyable, keeping an agenda/calendar, stepping away from technology, and making sure to set boundaries.
I hope this was helpful as you set off into the rest of 2019 full of ambition. Just remember that a key component of succeeding in whatever it is you set out to do this year is discipline. And keep in mind that “the spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).