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Build your discipline to move towards what you want out of life

“Spirituality is man’s attempt to shed ties with the various impulses promoting self-destruction” – Patricio Tehman Chincocolo

Follow along here: discipline requires habitual practice, but habitual practice requires discipline. So which comes first? I think the answer is either one, but if we have neither we start off with sheer willpower. 

Discipline is underpinned by:

  • Motivation
  • Willpower
  • Passion
  • Goals

Willpower is the starter fuel, like sugar it is used up quickly and then needs to be replaced by the other elements, but can be used on occasion when they falter. After we shift our mindset and decided to make a change in our lives we have our motivation, passion and goal figured out, it is our willpower that gets us started. It is the desire to experience something different while stuck in old habits and patterns. Willpower requires a lot of energy and strength helping us force our way through our mental obstacles. 

Motivation is the big picture version of willpower, our slow carbs if you like. It is the answer to our question “WHAT do I want to experience?”. The fuel for our motivation can be extrinsic or intrinsic. However, we need to be mindful that extrinsic motivation can, and often does, disappear, e.g. trying to impress a love interest by getting physically fit, we can’t control the feelings of the love interest and what happens with our motivation when the love interest still isn’t interested when we’ve become fit? On the flipside, if we get fit because we want to be healthier and in better condition and as a result we like ourselves better, and now a love interest shows up simply because we’ve shifted our energy from “not happy with myself” to “I love myself for who I am”. Hence, even if our initial motivation is extrinsic, we flip the script and seek out our intrinsic motivation and build your discipline from there. When our motivation is strong enough it will fuel the willpower for those days when we just “don’t have it in us”. We never run out of motivation, unless our mindset is shifted in another direction. 

Passion is the answer to the question, “Why do I want to experience what I have set as my goal?”. When we can evoke the feeling in our body how it feels to experience what we want, we fuel our motivation to keep going towards our goal. The clarity of our goals gives clarity to our motivation, which in turn determines the strength of our passion. 

Goals can be lofty with precise elements. The goal to become fit has no definition to it, but visualising your BMI going down, being able to run farther, faster and lifting heavier weights all have specifics attached to them. If we are trying to quit smoking, drinking, sugar, or something else, there is an end goal, but we break it down into measurable stages. The point is for us to find stages that we can believe in. If we smoke a pack of cigarettes per day, being smoke free the next day is going to be beyond our belief, but perhaps only smoking 19 cigarettes might be within our reach? 

In the example of quitting smoking, the goal is to quit smoking, the motivation is to not die of lung cancer and the passion is to feel free from addiction, feel healthier, not smell like smoke, or something else. Taking steps every day towards our goals is discipline, we have a disciplined practice that will lead us to our goals. Bringing discipline into all aspects of life helps strengthening our relationship with discipline. Perhaps start with making the bed in the morning, becoming organised with our finances, keeping our houses tidy, etc. All these actions helps us bring clarity into our energy and thus make for stronger underpinnings to our discipline. 

Discipline gives us a sense of control. However, the only three things we can control are our thoughts, our words and our actions, but we need discipline to control those, so go make your bed!

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