Discipline Part 1: Self-Discipline
Sometimes it is an ordinary day for you, but it is a fantastic and new start for someone else.
You wake up but still feel to stay in bed a little longer. You know you have to get up to go to work. You open curtains, it is morning, and there are people to go to work or take their kids to school. Trying to leave home on time so you can catch the train to go to work. Buying a coffee on the way, then you are at work. Or you get up, open curtains staring outside through your steamy window for a few minutes, and then make a coffee to start work from home.
This circle carries on, and you think this is life until you feel tired from time to time. Sometimes, you feel bored and lonely and start to consider if it is the right career to pursue or a life you want to live. You have a beautiful family and friends but still feel lonely. Something is missing, but you don't know what it is. You have got a job, money, family and friends so what is that missing. Probably the answer is 'you'.
When I was at the uni, I always wanted to research philosophy. So I started researching books in the market and spent my savings on several philosophy books that year. I was living in a student share house. When the holiday time arrived, all my housemates prepared to go back home and stay with their families for three months. Unlike my friends, I decided to stay and read philosophy books. One of them was very interesting, and the quotation remains with me forever. The author was saying:
"Human beings have created tools to make their life easy like cars, planes, trains etc. They built-up buildings to live in, invented money to trade, created education systems to open doors for next generations, even discovered the moon and visited the moon. But after all, the human beings turned to themselves and asked, 'who am I?'"
This is a question that I have been asking myself from time to time since then.
In my opinion, the more a person find out about themselves, mainly their intentions, interests and skills, the more they enjoy life and are successful.
If you feel or need a change in your life, after all, self-discipline might be an excellent place to start.
The word discipline comes from the Latin word disciplina, meaning 'instruction and training'. It also comes from the root word discere, meaning "to learn."
This reminded me of the famous quotation from Socrates "The unexamined life is not worth living."
Discipline helps us learn more effectively, improve learning methods, and build up lifelong habits by practising and applying our learned knowledge and skills. So let's examine discipline a bit in more detail.
Elements of Discipline
According to the Oxford dictionary, discipline means
"the practice of training people to obey rules and orders and punishing them if they do not; the controlled behaviour or situation that is the result of this training."
"a method of training your mind or body or of controlling your behaviour; an area of activity where this is necessary."
It is vital to have a purpose when applying the discipline. We must know why we should learn, study, train and apply standards. When the purpose of the action is clear, it doesn't matter how difficult it is. We will achieve it in the end.
For example, if you want to get a job and need specific skills or education for this job, you have to work on the skill and education required. When you enrol on a course, you know why you are registering and for what. However, many people waste their time studying a subject that will not take them anywhere. They study the subject either because their family wanted or hoped to have a good income when they start working. I know so many lawyers, doctors, teachers, engineers, and other professionals who are not happy to work in an area of business they studied and looking for opportunities to change their careers.
I have similar experiences and mistakes. I have been a lawyer for 18 years with a masters degree in international trade law. I have enjoyed my career in law but always wanted to do something with psychology. I always had an interest in psychology and similar fields, and now I am a life coach and left my legal career after many years. It is never late for what you want to do, no matter how it is difficult to change your circumstances.
Find your purpose, the rest will follow.
finding your purpose will help you motivate what you want to achieve. You can motivate yourself by imagining the result and award of your action. This method is called visualisation, which means you create the image of your future life that you want to live in your mind and start to work in real life.
For instance, you want to have a healthy life and go to the gym three times a week. When you start to exercise, you know you will feel better, have a good looking body, and be happy and healthy. You might be working full time or have kids to look after and so many other things to do in your daily life. However, it should not prevent you from having the pleasure of a healthy and happy life. Imagine you are at the age of 40 and someone tells you that you look like your 20's. Isn't it amazing?
There are many ways to motivate yourself to maintain and build up self-discipline. Reading articles or books about healthy and meaningful living, especially audiobooks and podcasts, are very popular nowadays to listen to something motivational when you travel, do your daily walk in your local park, or on the go. Watching motivational films, documentaries or videos on youtube and similar websites can also be a good way of motivating yourself.
If you are still struggling to motivate yourself for what you want to achieve, you can work with a professional such as a personal trainer or life coach and take a course to improve your knowledge and skills.
3- Practice and make it a lifestyle
New learned knowledge and skills can be better and stay with you when you practice them. Therefore, the more you practice, the better they will get.
Also, you must make new behaviours and skills as a lifestyle. Anything new you acquire and are happy with, you should make it a lifestyle. Like the above example, it is not enough to go to the gym three times a week for a month or two. You must put the gym, indoor or outdoor exercises in your life and make them part of your life. Newly gained habits should be your routine.
To give an example, I have been doing my daily walks for the last five years. I learned how to benefit physically, emotionally, and mentally from daily walks when studying life coaching. So, I chose to make it a lifestyle and implemented this new habit into my life five years ago. No matter what the weather is like, no matter how busy I am, I always do my daily walk, and I have gained so much benefit from it. I have also developed a habit of enjoying my daily walks by listening to radio, music or audiobook while walking. It also helped me discover new walking areas such as different parks, riversides, pathways, and neighbourhood areas. Sometimes, I do my daily walks with my friends over coffee. It feels incredible to carry your drink and walk around in a park talking to a friend.
You can develop so many other positive behaviours around the main one. My main positive habit is doing my daily walks, and other positive behaviours are listening to music or audiobooks and socialising with friends. These all helped me have a better life and eliminate the stress and difficulties of life, especially during pandemics when we were not allowed to socialise or meet a limited number of people.
4- Identify obstacles
There are so many bad habits that we might have had for a long time, and we are not aware of them. Obstacles can become more apparent and noticeable when you want to make changes in your life and start the journey.
One of the biggest obstacles is procrastination - leaving it for later—most people cannot succeed because they procrastinate. I even had several clients who came to me to overcome procrastination because they couldn't progress with their lives.
For instance, I had a client who wanted to reorganise her life, but she struggled to have time for what she wanted to do. She told me that she had developed a habit of not opening posts for a year and would waste her time doing things she hadn't planned before, like meeting friends while she should be doing something else. She would live her life randomly, and then she struggled to keep up with her life. As a result, because she procrastinated to open her posts, she missed many bill payments, bank warning letters, tax payments, etc.
When I visited her at her house for coaching sessions, she showed me a pile of letters that came through post for a year. I was shocked because I would open my letters when they arrived, but she kept hers for a year. When we started coaching sessions, more bad habits became apparent and why, how and where she gained these habits and the outcome on her daily, private and business life.
Once you start with new positive habits, you will quickly identify the bad ones. The most important thing is that you decide and be determined to transform your life from bad to good or from good to better.
There are times that discipline has been confused with punishment. However, punishment is not discipline but one of its elements. The purpose of punishment is to warn the person of the consequence of their actions. If they don't obey rules or follow standards, they will be punished.
For example, a teenage girl doesn't listen to her mother when she asks her to do or not to do something. So the mother takes the girl's smartphone from here and tells her that she will not get it back unless she listens and does what she asks. This is a good example of discipline and punishment.
What about self-discipline and punishment?
When we do wrongdoings to ourselves, there is no one to punish us and most of the time; we know the action or behaviour is wrong but still do it. The only punishment for self wrongdoing is our failure. Your punishment is your failure which can be very painful sometimes.
To give an example, you recently started to eat late, especially before going to bed. You have built up a habit of eating late at night, and you know it is wrong; however, you do it. After a few months, you noticed you had gained weight and felt uncomfortable with your dresses. Your friends and family members start to notice your weight and tell you gained weight. However, you carry on with eating late at night and junk food.
What will happen as a result of this new negative behaviour of eating late at night?
Firstly, your physical performance goes down, and you notice your lack of movements and flexibility in your body and sometimes run out-breath and need to stop walking. Secondly, you don't feel comfortable in your dresses. So you need to box current dresses, which will take lots of space and buy new ones, which can be extra outgoings, especially if you have a tight budget. Thirdly, you are stressed about your weight, and you need to start an exercise and stop eating; however, it is more difficult now because you have gained weight and it is hard to do exercises. It is also hard to stop eating late because it is a bad habit and you feel more hungry every night. Now, your self-esteem goes down, and you feel signs of depression. Finally, your health starts to deteriorate, and symptoms like high cholesterol, insulin resistance, dizziness, running out of breath, cardio problems and so on appear in your life.
A simple lack of discipline in one of our behaviour can cause us so many difficulties in our lives. As a result, we can fail in education, work, private and family life and life in general. The punishment of lack of self-discipline can be harrowing and leading an unsuccessful and unhappy life.
Although discipline sounds challenging, it is necessary for a better and more meaningful life. The award of your self-discipline is success and happiness, which many people desire but can't have in life. Being successful in your education, work, private, and family life is priceless. The more you are successful, the more you are happy and the people around you. Self-discipline can also help you with
Self-Awareness: You can identify your thoughts, feelings, skills, potential and how they impact yourself, your behaviours, your goals, relationships and other people around you.
Responsible Decision Making: You learn to make decisions and choices that affect you physically, emotionally, intellectually and socially positive. Responsible making decisions can also increase your self-awareness.
Self-Management: You can control, regulate and manage your emotions, thoughts and behaviours under different circumstances, especially when you have to make hard decisions and act upon them.
Relationship Skills: When you maintain your self-discipline strong, it attracts others and makes them approach and believe in you. Don't forget your thoughts and actions are your images. People can see you in your actions. The more disciplined your actions, the more you are reliable and trusted. This can help you build and maintain a healthy relationship with diverse individuals, groups and communities.
Social Awareness: When you maintain well-built and healthy self-discipline, you also can see others' points of view, especially those from diverse cultures, traditions, religions and backgrounds. This can help you build up a strong network with your community and other communities.
Self-discipline is a choice that comes within you. You are in control of making decisions and choices. Therefore, it is vital to observe your choices and consequences before making them.
Thoughts lead to similar thoughts,
Decisions lead to similar decisions,
Choices lead to similar choices,
Actions lead to similar actions.
Be careful with your thoughts, decisions, choices and actions.
Choosing the right one will attract a similar one that can easily lead you to a successful and happy life.