6 Tips in Cultivating the Discipline You Need to Succeed
All of us have dreams. We want a better body, a more loving partner or more financial abundance. And while there are 10,000 ways to manifest everything we possibly desire in our lives, nothing we hope for will ever come into our lives unless we exercise discipline to make it happen.
Discipline is a dirty word in our culture. It invokes images of controlling teachers, unfair rules, and work. It is a shame that we have been trained to resist the word discipline because in truth discipline is the only thing that can set us free.
Here are six tips in re-framing discipline to become an ally instead of an enemy.
1. Discipline is an act of self love
Love is a choice, and discipline is the highest act of self love. When we truly choose to love ourselves we acknowledge that our time on this earth is both priceless and fleeting; we realize that it is our duty to make every moment count. When we mismanage our time we are subtly displaying our lack of self love, feelings of unworthiness, and fear. By taking responsibility for ourselves in this moment we are exercising discipline and are freeing ourselves to make the choice of love.
2. Trading what is good for what is better
Once we understand that discipline is a deliberate act of love, we see that discipline is not a punitive attitude of sacrifice but a conscious choice to trade what is good in this present moment for what is better in a future present moment. Sure, mindlessly perusing social media can be a good time, but what is that in comparison to the stillness of meditation or the thrill of creating art? Discipline asks us to be rigorous with our present moments by understanding that in each moment we are making a choice, what is good or what is better?
3. Discipline is work
Make no mistake, love is effort-ful and effort is work. We have all been brainwashed into eating the narcotic of sexual romantic love; but true love, lasting love - both in relationship and personally requires real work. No one ever became liberated through a regiment of Netflix and chill, and fewer still have fallen asleep one night ignorant to awake the next morning enlightened. It is only by showing up again and again and pushing through the inertia of our laziness that we can actualize our potential as human beings.
4. Your ego-machine will lie to you
The ego-machine will lie to you to get you to choose what is good right now over what is better in the future now. It will tell you that you are too tired to meditate, that it is too cold to exercise, or that you are not in the right mood for art. These are lies. Expect them, do not believe them, and make the better choice anyway. Notice these lies for what they are; a manipulation that your ego-machine is using to avoid often very minor discomfort or pain. Do not be seduced by these lies, choose self love, accept the temporary discomfort, and exercise discipline now for the payoff in the future now.
5. Stepping through the fear of failure and success
One of the greatest roadblocks in exercising discipline is the fear of both failure and success. All of us have fear of failure and success whether we are aware of it or not. We are afraid that if we fail it will confirm all the worst things that we secretly believe about ourselves. If we succeed, it will mean that we will have to step out of what is familiar into the discomfort of the unknown. Our ego-machine is threatened by change and will use these half-conscious fears to undermine our efforts in discipline to keep us where we are. As long as we believe on some level that there is a benefit with things staying as they are, then we will never grow. Instead, choose to bring these universal fears to the forefront of your mind. Journal about, “What's the worst that can happen if I fail? If I succeed? And what is the benefit in me keeping life as it is?” Only through bringing these fears into awareness do we have the ability to move through them!
6. Kill the victim
A victim mentality is a mentality of justifying limitations. Self stories like “My mother did this to me so I am like this,” or “When I was six this horrible thing happened to me and now I am a broken human,” or “The political system is so corrupt that there is no point in anything,” all succeed in keeping you exactly where you are and entitle you to think and act in ways that are harmful to you and your relationships. Recognize them for what they are: lies the ego-machine is using to keep you disempowered and imprisoned. Discipline is the conscious effort to fully hear the victim story of our ego-machine and take responsibility to choose something else. “Yes this happened, and no it is not going to stop me.” Denouncing the victim inside of us is work, it can be painful, but ultimately it is the only thing that can set us free.
Discipline is not sexy. It is not quick, it is not interesting, and it won't get you likes on Facebook. What discipline is, however, is effective. It is truthfully the only thing that can get us anywhere. It is our salvation. It is our momentum. It is what will ultimately set us free.