A Matter of Discipline

It seems a natural progression, having mulled over the perpetual problem that is time, to ponder the notion of discipline, something that’ll be more than necessary if I am to maintain my target.

The dictionary defines discipline as follows:

Noun
  1. Training to act in accordance with rules; drill:military discipline.
  2. Activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill;training:
    A daily stint at the typewriter is excellent discipline for a writer.
  3. Punishment inflicted by way of correction and training.
  4. The rigour or training effect of experience, adversity, etc.:the harsh discipline of poverty.
  5. Behaviour in accord with rules of conduct; behaviour and order maintained by training and control:good discipline in an army.
  6. set or system of rules and regulations.
  7. Ecclesiastical. the system of government regulating the practice of church as distinguished from its doctrine.

Verb

  1. To train by instruction and exercise; drill.
  2. To bring to a state of order and obedience by training and control.
  3. To punish or penalize in order to train and control; correct; chastise.

The dictionary also states the origin of the word can be found in the Latin word disciplina – meaning instruction or tuition.

Discipline, and especially self-discipline is all about applying a code of conduct or behaviour upon yourself in accordance with a goal. Monks, for example, display serious discipline in meditating for prolonged periods of time, a martial artist exerts great self-discipline through hours of meticulous training, as does a painter or a musician. They are all goal oriented towards improving their mastery over their craft and/or themselves. At it’s core, that is what I believe discipline is.

Establishing a Goal

Discipline is something attainable and achievable by anyone who truly wishes it. But it may just be that little bit easier to come by and maintain if you’re developing it for a purpose, for a reason. Discipline can be attached to the smallest and the biggest of things, from someone looking to lose a few pounds (or maybe even gain a few) all the way up to the ambitions of a global leader of literally any kind.

The two go hand in hand it seems. Without discipline it becomes difficult to be consistent, to stick to your plans your goals, but without a goal it becomes difficult to remain focused, to remain disciplined.

So first establish a goal, the next step is to consider what you need to achieve that goal and how you’ll stick to it, how’ll you’ll maintain that determination, that drive, focus and discipline.

The How, the When and then the Why

The next step, how are you going to build and reinforce you’re drive to stick with it, whatever it may be? Will you frequently reward yourself or will you power on through sheer will power and perseverance?

The power of rewarding yourself is exceptional, everyone enjoys the feeling of gratification. Everyone has heard of swear jars, the very same principle can be applied to motivating yourself and nurturing your sense of self-discipline. Each and every time you go to the gym, put an self-prescribed amount of money in a jar, box or what have you, the same amount each time. Then use it to treat yourself, to a Starbucks, a new book or some new clothes to go along with the fabulous new you.

When? This seems a slightly odd question, when should I be disciplined. I guess it varies, taking nutrition for all you gym goers as an example again, a lot of people take full advantage of giving themselves a cheat day. As a reward for their discipline and commitment to their goals they just eat and eat in a unrestricted orgy of sugary fat filled goodness. It should be all the time right? Discipline by its very nature doesn’t allow for breaks or pauses, the fact that the cheat day comes around the same time every week in itself is a manner of control and discipline.

Why? Perhaps one of the most important aspects in maintaining any sort of self-imposed regime is the reason behind it, the stronger the reason the easier it will be to stay composed and not give in to your own temptations. In this regard I believe a more personal reason will always trump something more … artificial. What do I mean? You have to want to do something for you, or perhaps your spouse, dear friend, family etc. You’re more likely to stick to your gym habits if you want to get healthy for you, not for a girl or boy you think will suddenly fall for you if there were a few more inches around your arms or off your belly. If after a few months they still remain uninterested it’ll destroy your motivation altogether.

In my own quest, my goal is to become a better writer, not for anyone else but for my own satisfaction, its okay to be a little selfish once and a while. Sure if along the way it allows me to make money or get some form of recognition, it’s not something that I’ll shy away from, but it isn’t the root cause of my motivation and therefore won’t dictate how disciplined I remain (or not). The additional benefits that come from your consistency should be seen as that, welcome additions, benefits and results, not as the cause itself.

Rounding it All Up

As a way of drawing to a close I’ll look towards myself. What will I do to maintain my discipline? Well I probably won’t look to reward myself every time I write 1000 words, I don’t feel as though I need to. The feeling of having accomplished what I have set out to do, and watching that word count steadily rise is gratifying enough (so is the potential run-off of a larger and more consistent readership if ever that so happens). I also know the reason behind what I am doing will sustain me. I still have no idea what I want to do with my life, but I still enjoy writing and am entirely keen on become much more proficient at it.

So what does discipline mean to you? How do you maintain it? What’s your secret?

[Image(s) from Shareyouressays]

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