In our previous chapters, we talked about how the topics of the three previous chapters work together. In our analogy, we’re sailing a sailboat to the North Pole.
This is done by using self-awareness as an understanding of where your starting point on the journey is, with a focus on radical honesty, as lying to yourself is as useless as not even starting to reflect.
Next we have self-accountability, which means that no matter where you start, it’s important to understand you were the one who got you there. You are the sum of all of the life choices you have made up to this point, and instead of being paralyzed by regret, you’ll use that to jumpstart positive change.
Next we have self-leadership, that makes sure that we’re constantly keeping the ship going forward, and checking our compass to make sure that we’re not just going forward, but that we’re heading due north.
What happens when you’ve got the boat headed in the right direction, you’re moving forward quickly, and all of a sudden the weather turns. Whipping winds and stinging rain push you below deck.
Now you’re hoping to sit below deck and wait for the rain to subside, and every minute you wait you’re veering further and further off course – and you don’t even know it.
This is where self-discipline comes into play. Self-discipline is where you make the serious commitment to yourself, knowing that there’s going to be dozens or thousands of times you want to give up, but refuse to.
Self-discipline is the committed and conscious acknowledgement that simply put: sometimes it’s just going to suck.
Depending on what your goals are, the self-discipline will show itself in different ways, and the ways that you’ll try to avoid them will look different, but they all cut to the core of the issue.
If you’re a boxer who has to wake up at 5 am to (hopefully not) get punched in the face, anyone can imagine how difficult day 100 of that training could be. Not every commitment to discipline is as obvious as it is for a boxer, it could be a mom who’s exhausted from her job that comes home and doesn’t want to cook for the kids.
If she’s exhausted and doesn’t want to cook a healthy meal, maybe once she’ll order a pizza. Then it happens again three nights later, and again the day after that. Now the kids are eating pizza and fast food five nights a week, and she’s not living up to the personal development plan she made for herself and her family.
She had plans to feed her kids healthy, home cooked meals as often as possible. While she wasn’t training to be a Navy Seal, being a mother who wants the healthiest options for her children is absolutely something that requires discipline. It just looks different, but it comes from the same place.
Both come from the place of taking the easy way out, right now, when you know you’re going to regret it later. A 45 second phone call to the pizza place is easier tonight, but in five years everyone is going to regret those easy decisions.
Self-discipline is one of the most crucial steps we talk about in this book because it’s where the thoughts, plans, and goals turn into real-world action.
Everyone knows what it takes to have six-pack abs, or millions of dollars in the bank: for 90% of the population it isn’t a lack of knowledge, but a lack of the discipline to execute consistently, even when it isn’t fun, even when it’s raining, even when your friends are doing XYZ.
It’s a cliche, but ask any fit person about gym memberships in January. January 1st rolls around, and there’s suddenly dozens of new faces, with treadmills and weight machines having waiting lines. Then February 1st rolls around, and about 75% of them have disappeared, and it’s not because they lost their goal of 75 pounds in one month.
It’s because it’s easy to ride off of passion. When you’re enjoying New Year’s Eve, everyone talks about how this year is going to be different, but when it’s 6 am and snowing, suddenly the gym can wait until tomorrow.
Self-discipline is knowing that you might not always be passionate, but you always have to push through it. Luckily, we know how to set yourself up to be as successful as possible when it comes to self-discipline.