Discipline is the self-control program we use to invest in our future self.
It's the reason we go to bed early when we’d rather stay up late because we know that us of tomorrow will be thankful to us of last night. It's the reason we choose vegetables instead of hot-dogs because we know that our future arteries, will be thankful for our past decisions. But we only make these difficult decisions to sacrifice the pleasant today, for the benefit of tomorrow when we know what it is we value.
That’s why the first step in being a disciplined person is clarifying what areas of your life you care most about. The areas of your life that when it’s all said and done, you can look back at your decisions and know it was a life well-lived. While there are varying degrees of what's important in the lives of different individuals, there are a number of areas I believe (along with Zig Ziglar) that deserve all of our time and attention.
Here are the areas that deserve your daily discipline:
Mindset The training of the mind is often ignored in the midst of our busyness. But just like weeds can overtake the beauty of a garden, an unkempt mind can be difficult to maintain a calm focus. Simple activities like meditation, solitude and journalling are a great way of getting in touch with our internal world and taking practical steps towards improving them. With focused attention, we can change the way we see the world.
Body If our body is in pain, sick or constantly tired, each area of our lives will suffer. We’re not as effective at work, with our family or with ourselves when we’re feeling run down and out of shape. A simple training program that nurtures cardio, strength and flexibility is a great place to start. I enjoy the simplicity of Mark Sisson’s training plan. The studies of Blue Zones offer some great insight into how the oldest, healthiest people on the planet live.
Relationships “It’s not good for the man to be alone” - Genesis 2:18. With that said, it’s important we’re taking the time to invest in our friendships and relationships. Taking time to schedule a walk with your partner to talk about your week or scheduling a weekly phone call or coffee date with a good friend is an important investment. There’s a great book on this subject called ‘Social’.
Charity In an individualist culture, we’re often fooled into thinking that this life is all about us. This mindset is a short cut to being unfulfilled. We all understand on a deep level that there’s something empowering about giving time and energy to causes we believe in, but feel as though we don’t have time in our schedules to get it done. Think about some areas you’re passionate about that could do with your time and money towards. Structure time in your schedule to give to something beyond yourself.
Career This is how we structure our working hours. Here, we challenge ourselves to prioritise the important tasks over the urgent tasks. A tool to structure how we’re investing time into our calendar is Stephen Covey’s prioritisation time management matrix. If you’re interested in how you can clarify and prioritise the important tasks in your work calendar, you should also check out ‘Deep Work’ by Cal Newport.
Spiritual There’s no amount of money, sex or power that will satisfy our human desire for more. This discipline connects us to the big picture of humanity. This part of your life looks at questions like: Why are you here? What is your purpose? How you can help with the ongoing creation of the world?
Personal Maybe you want to learn the guitar or Spanish or Harmonica or how to cook. This is the part of our lives that is often referring to our ‘passion’. It’s the thing we want to do but do have the time to do yet. When your disciplines are in order, it will free up time for this part of your life.
How could these daily disciplines change the way you live?