Have you ever wondered why we plan so much in life?
Mostly, to achieve a desired goal, to arrive at a destination in time, or to make sure certain things happen. And yet, the real question is: Is planning really enough? Is it sufficient to establish a route, if you don’t have the amount of commitment to walk the talk? Not really. Because at the end of the day, it all gets down to commitment. Passion can get you ahead, but it’s commitment and discipline that will take you to the destination.
The ultimate proof of love
Here’s a piece of cozy wine-talk that I had with my beloved cousin last night. It’s something she said that really stuck to my mind:
“You know, I really think that one’s discipline is the ultimate proof of self-love. It’s like saying to yourself: Hey I want you to do this now because I really care about where you will end up in the future.”
I don’t think I have heard a more beautiful way of defining the idea of discipline. And here’s why:
Cambridge Dictionary says that:
1.Discipline is a training that makes people more willing to obey or more able to control themselves, often in the form of rules, and punishments if these are broken.
It sounds rigid and inflexible if you analyze the words, so I extracted the core message as I see it:
A trainingthe drive that makes people more willing to obeycommit to their goals or more able to control themselves thedistractions that keep them from obtaining what they desire, often in the form of ruleshabits, and punishmentsaccountability if these distractions are brokenoccurring.
Therefore here’s the final piece:
Discipline is the drive that makes people more willing to commit to their goals or more able to control distractions that keep them from obtaining what they desire, often in the form of habits, and accountability if these distractions are occurring.
Now, how does one onboards for discipline? Is there a process?
It could be, planning as I was mentioning at the beginning of the article is the first thing you could do, but not the most important. I don’t see a stiff process necessarily, but more of a set of principles you should keep in mind. If these are aligned, things should flow on their own.
PRINCIPLE NO.1: THE 1st STEP IS RELATED TO RULES DESIGN
Your mindset towards discipline changes instantly if you use it as a way to enhance your performance on the things you love doing. It’s supposed to be a tool that gets you more of what you want, not a torture mechanism that puts you in a certain frame.
Now, what does that supposed to mean?
It means that you should stop replicating other people’s recipes for success and design your own. Why running 10 km if you don’t like running, just because society makes it a “healthy habit”? What if your strength stands in playing tennis for hours like nobody else does? You can never win the game if you design the rules by other people’s strengths! Find your own super-powers, those things that you do with ease and passion, and then use discipline to enhance them.
PRINCIPLE NO 2: THE BASIC RULE OF LOVE AND CARE
This is the basic flight-rule of putting your own mask first in order to be able to help others around you after.
You have to be mindful of your most fundamental needs when your body and mind require them. Discipline can be translated in both of the following situations: Pushing yourself at times in order to stick with a plan, but it can also mean giving yourself the freedom to cancel plans if those plans interfere with your fundamental needs.
You might sometimes want to cancel your friends’ after-hours drinks if you have a big day tomorrow that requires all the energy you can get. Doing so, regardless of the fact that you might let people down, means that you love yourself enough to cancel those plans for the sake of getting the needed rest.
PRINCIPLE NO. 3: THE VALUE OF UNDIVIDED ATTENTION
AT WORK: Discipline doesn’t mean that you have to choose between fun and performance, on contrary, it means balancing your energy and focus so efficiently that you’ll get the best of both worlds. And we all know that a great achievement requires a proper celebration.
On a personal line, for example, I rarely answer my friends’ messages during working hours, unless it happens to be an emergency of course. I choose to do so because I treasure a lot the flow-state that I access when I don’t get distracted. And I know for a fact that my performances have increased because I trained my focus and my mindset on getting things done, not just “onboarded”.
AND IN SOCIAL CONTEXTS: On the other hand, this principle should apply equally to your social life: when you have dinner with someone, set your phone on silent and nurture that time with undivided attention. People will really appreciate it, it’s a proof of respect and most importantly you will capture insights you would have never otherwise if your attention would keep switching between the main conversation and your phone.
PRINCIPLE NO. 4: THE THIEF IN OUR POCKETS
Focus can get us pretty far in life, and yet there’s something that keeps us from getting there.
THE TIME GIVER: Think about this: the more you focus, the more you’ll get done. Why working 10 to 12 hours a day for one project, with frequent pauses in between and extended working times, (not because you have too much work to do, but because you switch too much between tasks and distractions and your attention dilutes), when you could work 6 hours fully-focused with quality results and then use the rest of the day into building on another dream?
It’s a matter of nurturing what you have to get what you want: You are neither living in the past nor in the future. You are living in the present. The present time is the only resource that you have at hand and training your mind into channeling its energy into it it’s important. The more present you are in your activities, the more quality focus you invest, and the better your results will become with time.
THE POCKET THIEF: If one could have been in two places at once, humanity would have probably evolved way beyond our current reality. However, we are where we are today and from a physical angle at least, we can only be in one place at a time. Debating this matter from the angle of us being present in our actions is a wonderful thing. And yet, our minds love to wander. Is this wrong? No, it’s only human nature. But it’s not just that.
It’s not just our minds distracting us from being present, but a specific thing that steals our time and attention like nothing else. It lays comfortable in the pockets of our clothes: our phones. Our phones are both bridges for performances and communication when used mindfully – and big distractors when we let them disturb our flow-state. The good news is that we have the power to control them and the way we choose to use them is our most important decision.
In the end, discipline might not be easy at first, but as long as you learn to use it as a strategy of getting more of what you desire, it will feel fulfilling like nothing else. And beyond all the above, it will make you treasure time in a form you haven’t done before.
Once you get there, you will feel that you’ve reached that point in life where you really are living to the fullest, even though the end destination might still be at a long distance from where you’re at.