Self-Discipline and Looking Within Exposes our Great Potential
Time is something we cannot get back, every second that passes is another push towards a certain direction, and inevitably our death. The push is always there as inaction can spark as much of a future as action. Life if left to go on without our participation inevitably leads to a steering towards a more uncertain and undesirable potential.
This is why it’s always important to be “planting seeds”, making strides to protect and to excel in our abilities. By planning what you can now, when inevitable struggles enter, you’re more able to enjoy a more resilient defense.
Thankfully, it all begins with us. Our ability to succeed is greatly reliant on our tenacity and willingness to overcome whatever inevitable obstacles arise.
The Importance of Focus
The mind is everything. What you think you become.- Gautama Buddha
Focus is everything when it comes to developing lasting self-discipline. Especially for people who are lacking discipline or perhaps feel disconnected from their goals, the most important step is first looking within
Truly examining where your thoughts go, what your motivations are, and what you foresee as your future. By asking these questions we truly gauge our capabilities and what should be done next. When you examine how you’re feeling and what you feel, you can then truly understand why you’re lacking discipline.
Perhaps you are too lost in the comfort of your day to day, and maybe the bare minimum is good enough. *Side Note – It can become a crutch to focus so much on what you’re doing wrong, as opposed to actually working on developing. When it seems monumental and taxing is when we fail, as mental fatigue from over-examining strikes. For tips on avoiding this, read this post.
The problem with this is that inevitably, this will lead to dislike at the very least, and a painful life at worst. The biggest problem a human can face is giving up their freedom, losing their potential. Potential is like a seed that can provide great nourishment in the future, but if kept as a outward dream, will only frustrate.
There is no doubt in my mind that when we fail to accomplish our life’s work, it won’t simply be brushed aside, this will eat at a person and inevitable cause great distress. Fortunately, the inverse is that it gives us a boost in libido and a sense of well-being that is unlike any other thrill.
The first steps I’ve found useful in developing discipline is to observe and ask:
- What am I interested in? Taking heed to your thoughts makes it easy to gauge how good your discipline is. For example, if you are lost in thought often, or feel a sense of discomfort and irritability with yourself, it likely means you are in a position of lack. Lacking whether it is self-imposed or possibly an external problem can seem hard but like anything else, the answer comes within. It’s always best to do what you can now, instead of making excuses. Often when we are truly honest at ourselves we’ll know exactly where to begin, organization for example could be a great stepping stone. This can be best applied without a judgement of our mind (I shouldn’t feel this way or there’s something wrong with me) and examining the root of our thinking.
- What grips me? Understanding what field of study you’re most interested in can make it easier to get started. I for example have always enjoyed writing but saw it as a unlikely job, a pipe dream. It wasn’t until I put in the effort that I began seeing rewards. I can’t think of any other job I’d rather do, I greatly enjoy it, especially when it starts a dialogue and informs. If I kept the mind state that it wasn’t worth the effort to begin because I’d fail I’d never be here. Being realistic is important, but at the very least you get comfortable with discipline and you may find a different job in the same field.
- Write it down: Planners help you map out and truly sit with your daily goals. Even if it’s basic such as clean, buy groceries or whatever, this allows you to see what priorities need to get done first, and where you can squeeze in time for developing your craft. This is absolutely essential as the more you are grounded into your goals, the more likely you are to accomplish it. Once you invest that initial easy bit of energy, momentum can carry it forward.
- Do what you can now: Even if it’s incredibly small, such as buying a daily planner, failure to begin based on “optimization” or needing to get ready is a major crutch. What’s needed especially for those lacking discipline is to take any steps closer to becoming rooted in organization and goal setting. If you plan to get fit start doing free workout plans for example, or if the goal is to make more money, then reach out on forums or research financial terms. Anything is better than no action.
- What needs improvement?: Similar to the last section, you look at yourself objectively and look for areas of improvement. Perhaps you’re spending too much time on an activity which is fruitless such as surfing the web aimlessly or even to read interesting articles, this should be reserved as reward time. By setting your natural habits and areas of interest as a reward, we place it on a limited front that can be used as a source of energy when we know we need to take care of tasks first.
Why Motivation is Fleeting
A disciplined mind brings happiness – Gautama Buddha
You may love something or desire to be a certain person but you may find the steps to improve are vast, or too far in the future. Initial hype from an inspirational story or a sudden awakening desire can be the jump start but it’s not enough. Even enjoyable activities can be boring or difficult at certain stages. Even worse is when this fleeting invitation comes, once it leaves you’re stranded and logic alone won’t push you forward enough to accomplish your goals.
Recommendations I’ve found useful to get started are:
- Get it out of the way: Working on projects when there is time, without hesitation. Once hesitation comes you start to make excuses and perform indulgent tasks that don’t help. Whenever this strikes I recall that my free time is valuable, and in fact too valuable to get caught up in fleeting thrills. Every moment is a trade off and if there is no investment of free energy on goals, then you’re delayed on the path to greatness.
- Chunks: Psychologically we work far better when we take a big goal and divide it into smaller goals. If instead of looking at the major goal of let’s say, building a six pack. I have to start first with getting better eating habits, which if I take a major step back, could be as easy as buying containers to store carefully selected meals. Break each goal into smaller goals.
- Reward: A simple reward can even come from striking things off of the checklist. In your planner once you finish even a small goal, it feels incredibly rewarding to delete a task and look at all that you’ve done. Rewards can also be used to give you the extra motivation to push ahead and get a jump start, and they are best saved for last. Save your planned fun activity as a night cap for example.
- Set an Environment: Make your habitat suitable for breeding better habits. Get rid of things that you don’t need, organize, and make it conducive to gaining an upper hand. I like to have meals prepped for example, or have my phone shut off to keep distractions away. Anything which can make it easier and more conducive to success.
- Willpower is limited so do what you can: Especially as the day goes on, it becomes harder to keep willpower. A famous study of kids being offered sweets showed that those who performed mathematics beforehand ended up eating more. This shows that our brain is better able to rein our desires in before we tax the mind. So if possible, get your goals out the way first thing in the morning.
- Why does it matter?: If you ever find yourself needlessly losing sight of your goals, or indulging in aimlessness, go back to the basics. Why do you care to be in a better position? For me it’s the simple fact that I love to travel, want a house, like to see how far I can take my mind and body and money is a means to this freedom. Find your reasons to live, and think about it actively. This always gives me a surge of effort and it prevents me from over indulging or in having doubts. The grind of working towards your goals is so much sweeter in the end than any initial bad habit.
- Be mindful of company: There’s an adage of the closest people you surround yourself saying a lot about your character. Seeking relationships with people who challenge you, people of substance can be a major contributor to keep you sharp.
- Mindfulness: Be aware of when your thoughts drift. By treating all thoughts as a sort of observance rather than a guide post, you suddenly gain a deeper clarity and enhanced ability to center focus. I explain the intricacies and high value of being mindful here.
This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play. – Alan Watts
Motivation can only take you so far, it’s rarely there all the time for repeat tasks, and that’s OK. Being comfortable with the grind serves to make us sharper. Often what’s initially less comforting is more rewarding after the fact.
An example I’ve found is that on days I don’t feel like working out, I go through the motions and opt to give up if I truly can’t continue. What often happens is I find energy and I enjoy at the very least, a somewhat sweaty and productive workout. Never in the post-workout has there been regret for beginning.
The same goes for your goals, getting closer to your ambitions will always leave you with accomplishment. The opposite can be said about self-indulgence. The more you simply fulfill your base level desires, the worse you’ll feel over time. This will compound when you realize how much time you’ve wasted.
The biggest takeaway that can be integrated instead of hoped for is internalizing that you matter. In my book “The Truth of Reality” I talk about the fundamental truth that we are interconnected, even if we don’t know each other. What’s amazing about this is that when we give into our true nature and follow our innate career path that we know we want, it enriches us and leaves no doubt about the value of trying.
This is best exemplified with the fact that our life work is something that not only affects our lifestyle, but our well-being. As far as we know there is only a single life and contemplating death showcases the value of effort.
Our potential is only as limited as we make it. It’s highly valuable for us to try in order to feel lively and to live with a full capacity.