Hi and welcome back to The Brown Parachute Club. Last week’s article was all about dealing with Procrastination, eating frogs and other fun stuff. I apologize if it seemed a little rambling, but I am fighting off a horrible cold/flu and I think it is affecting my writing.
Anyway, today’s topic is Discipline. I’m not talking about the type that leather-clad Mistress Helga dishes out! Although, if you’re into that sort of thing, I don’t judge. What I’m talking about is the type of discipline that can help you to achieve your dreams and goals.
As young children, we’re taught self-discipline by our parents. We, in turn, teach it to our children. It has been said that the one quality all successful business people have is self-discipline. Elbert Hubbard said, “Self-discipline is the ability to make yourself do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not.” It’s cutting the lawn before heading over to your buddy’s house to watch the game. It’s clearing the table and loading the dishwasher after dinner, before playing the latest Call of Duty game on the Xbox. It’s basically doing the unpleasant stuff before the fun stuff!
That Hubbard quote is from another great book by Brian Tracy. “No Excuses!” is a book that really makes you examine your life. It’s not so much about a character trait you need to acquire, but about the type of person you need to become. The book illustrates the differences between disciplined and undisciplined people. Unfortunately, most people fall into the “undisciplined” category. In a nutshell, being a disciplined person means being someone that people can count on. Someone who does the hard stuff.
However, there’s more to being disciplined than just making sure you work out every day (although that’s a good start). It is about being a person of integrity. I don’t throw that word around lightly. There are far too many people in this world who lack integrity. Merriam-Webster’s’ Dictionary defines Integrity as a “firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values”.
In this day and age, having a code of morals and values makes you someone special. How sad is that? I don’t want to turn this into a big ethical discussion, but I want to illustrate what being a person of integrity and discipline means. It means you are someone who can be counted on to do the right thing, every time.
My friend Steve and I have an ongoing discussion about integrity. We are tired of seeing news stories about someone “doing the right thing”, when they find a purse, wallet, or a bag of cash, by turning it into the proper authorities. Our viewpoint is that there’s nothing special about doing the right thing. One day, Steve found a bank deposit bag at work with over $1,200 inside, which he turned into Security. I said, “I’m not going to congratulate you for doing the right thing.” At which, Steve replied, “Understood”.
Getting back to self-discipline, imagine if your doctor told you that you had to lose 25 pounds or you were going to die in 21 days! You can bet you would spend every second of those 21 days trying to find every way possible to lose that weight! You would make all the necessary changes to your diet and exercise program to make sure that you lost the weight, so you didn’t drop dead! Applying that kind of urgency in non-life-threatening situations is what self-discipline is all about.
The reason I chose 21 days in the previous example is because it has been established that anything you do consistently for 21 days becomes a Habit. Discipline is the trait that will get you through those 21 days. Developing good habits is essential to becoming a better person.
Discipline is the ability to give up short term pleasure for long term gains. Having discipline ties in very well with having Goals. Goals are “long term gains”. Having Goals causes you to have discipline. Is your Goal to show up at your class reunion 30 pounds lighter? Then maybe it would be a good idea to grab a salad, instead of that piece of cake! And hit the gym tomorrow!
With all the distractions that college life has to offer, it takes an incredible amount of discipline for a student to make it through all four years of college. My oldest son received two four-year degrees in the same four-year period. I still don’t know how he did it. Oh wait, yes I do, massive amounts of drive and discipline!
Personally, I have found that having a checklist to stay disciplined is a lifesaver. We are all so busy with our day-to-day lives, it is very easy to lose track of what is important to you. That is where an excellent Goal Tracker like Goal-Buddy comes in. G-B not only allows you to set up Goals, Habits, and Tasks, it has a weekly Dashboard Calendar that lists everything in a checklist format to help you to stay on top of them.
To me, the ultimate form of discipline is going on vacation and STILL working on the items on your Dashboard checklist. I wish I could say that I always succeed in that, however, I do make every effort to stick to my checklist while I’m on vacation. However, that’s the beauty of vacation. When you get back, you jump right back into your Projects, Goals, and Habits. Sometimes taking a break from them gives you a fresh perspective and ideas.
To me, what all of this comes down to is a long-term view vs short-term pleasure. Would it be more fun to watch the Harry Potter Marathon on FreeForm, than to get my latest blog written? Sure it would. But I have made a commitment to myself and to you, my readers. I will write an article each week, that you will hopefully find interesting and helpful.
That said, hand me the remote! Hogwarts Awaits!!!
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