Self disciplined and freedom. Two terms that sound like an oxymoron at first. But in reality, they couldn’t be more similar.
Being self disciplined is a choice. It is a decision we make that say, I choose to do this when this happen. Sometimes, that choice may seem natural, other times it may not.
How would you choose
For instance, when the alarm clock rang this morning at 4.30am I can:
- choose to turn it off and go back to sleep or
- choose to be self disciplined by getting up and doing the work that will bring me closer to my goals
I am glad to report here that I chose the former.
However, that may not always be the case.
At the other end of the spectrum, you could be working in a job that requires you to get up at 4.30am. You may not like it, but should you not get up and go to work, you’d be fired.
Anywhere in between could involve you signing up for a program, where you are to report at 4.30am. And if you don’t show up, no sweat. But it is your loss because you paid for it but didn’t get to take advantage of it.
Three scenarios – which one do you identify with?
In the three scenarios described above, we could categorize them into three areas, namely:I have to, I want to, and I choose to.
- I have to: You have to because if you don’t, there will be significant consequences like getting fired.
- I want to: You want to because you know that it is good for you, but you may not have the determination to make it happen. And so, you engage someone to provide “adult” supervision.
- I choose to: You choose to because you not only know it is good for you, but you are also able to get yourself to take the necessary action to get things done.
How these three scenarios are linked to three reasons
By mapping these three scenarios to the three reasons why self discipline is hard, what I am saying is this:
- Environment: We allow the environment to control the way we behave. Often times leading to a situation where we have to be self disciplined because we have to.
- Other People: We give other people control over us by giving them permission to decide what’s best for us. Quite frankly, people would be more than glad to decide for you. And chances are, you aren’t going to like it.
- Own Self: We give ourselves the control over what we think, feel, and do. The benefit of it is that you are free to choose the actions. For instance, my choice of a 4.30am wake up call is because I want the quiet time to do the most important tasks first. So that when both my children wake up, I would be able to be with them.
It is a conscious choice and frankly, it is the most liberating decision I’ve ever made.
Why some people are more disciplined than others
Action: It is not by chance but by choice that some people are more disciplined. Here’s what you can do to get yourself to be more disciplined.
Look at the things you do on a regular basis. This does not only include the tasks to move your projects forward. But these could be things you do as part of your routine. They could even be tasks you’ve identified to address your person and people areas of your life.
Then place 1, 2, or 3 next to these tasks.
- I have to
- I want to
- I choose to
- How many of your tasks belong to categories 2 or 3?
- How can you increase the number of tasks that are category 3?