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Why you need discipline

Improving Systems and Habits

Scott Miker is the author of several books that describe how to use systems and habits to improve.  This free blog provides articles that to help understand the principles related to building systems.  

Why you need discipline

Scott Miker

Do you know why you need discipline in your life? It is simple. Discipline is how you earn your freedom.

That’s right. Discipline equals freedom.

Wait that can’t be right, can it? Discipline is prison. Discipline is restricting. Discipline is eliminating freedom.

Wrong. It is just about how the discipline is administered. If you are self-disciplined that means that you gain control over yourself. If someone else administers discipline over you that means they control you.

In other words, whoever is disciplining, has the control. If you want control over your life you have to be able to discipline yourself. Don’t wait for someone else to do it. Grab ahold of your life by holding yourself accountable and making sure you stick with your desired actions.

Think about a criminal. If they can discipline on their own and control their own behaviors, they can decide to avoid criminal behavior. Doing so will give them freedom to do what they desire in life.

Take that same criminal and give them a complete lack of self-control. They act impulsively. They act based on gratification. They want something and immediately try to take it.

As they do this they risk getting caught and thrown in prison, where they will have to abide by rules and discipline, whether they like it or not.

But even everyday people, like you and I, earn our freedom from discipline. There are limitations to living, and it is up to us to live within those limitations or have those limitations dictate the course of our life.

If we feel we are free by choosing to smoke cigarettes, we will eventually degrade our health enough to force us to live a specific way. It might be because we get cancer. It might be because we can no longer go about our daily activities without machines to help us breathe.

In other words, smoking has limitations. If we choose to smoke instead of being disciplined enough to quit (or never start), the natural limitations will take control. If we take control first, we can live without smoking and never hit those external limitations.

Once we start to gain control of our life by being disciplined, we start to realize just how much we are responsible for our own lives. We make the rules. We choose what we know is best. It isn’t dictated to us. It isn’t forced on us.

But too often we associate freedom with impulse. We have a sudden urge to do something impulsive that feels good in the moment but hurts us later. We give in, assuming this is our freedom to choose.

But that choice soon turns to future choices that resemble it. We continue to choose freedom in the moment instead of future freedom.

We sell our future for a quick hit. We sacrifice real freedom to give in to our urges. All the while, assuming we are free because we chose the pleasurable option.

Discipline changes all that. It allows us to make decisions based on what we ultimately know will help us be happier in the future.

Discipline equals freedom. We just have to realize that freedom doesn’t mean the rules don’t apply to us. It means we choose to live in a way that allows us to have the control before something external takes the control away from us.