Sometimes when we hear the word discipline we become uncomfortable. It doesn’t have good connotations. It can be associated with a lack of freedom. When we consider what it is to be disciplined though, it can actually create freedom. What I’m referring to is the ability to say no to commitments or obligations that don’t move us in the direction of our goals. When we set a goal we need to be diligent in ensuring that we don’t allow ourselves to be pulled away from it. We can get pulled away in a variety of ways. Sometimes our own interests pull us away. This isn’t to say you should not do things that are of interest to you or things that are just plain fun. It’s important to have these sorts of activities in your life. The question to ask yourself is ‘does this activity help or hurt my ability to achieve my goal?’ It may very well help by allowing you to free your mind, to relax, to laugh whatever the case may be. At times though, we get caught up in other activities and it affects our ability to achieve what we really want in life. It becomes a distraction that allows us to forget what it is we are trying to accomplish. We need to decide what we want from life and then go after it and let go of anything that does not propel us in that direction. To quote Deepak Chopra, “once the decision is clear, the doing becomes effortless”.
Once we have made a decision like this, Writer Robert Brault advises to ask yourself on occasion “”What is the connection between what I want most in life and anything I plan to do today?” Say you want to be a writer for example. What did you do today that propelled you in the direction of being a writer? Did you write? Did you sign up for a writing course? Did you do research for a book? Did you research publishers or agents? We need to do something each day, even something small, that moves us in the direction of where you want to be.
Once we know what our goal is, and we are taking a step toward it every day, we need to consider whether or not we are truly passionate about this goal. If not, chances are there will not be a level of focus that can be sustained to see this goal through to the end. Henry David Thoreau said “It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?” In order to accomplish something there has to be a strong enough desire. We need to really want it. Ideally there should be emotion attached to this goal as well. As Wayne Dyer explains in his book Wishes Fulfilled, how we feel about a goal we are trying to manifest matters much more than we realize. He writes “My subconscious mind has been programmed to act automatically on the desire I have placed in my imagination. But the actual fulfillment of that desire comes about because, and only because, I have assumed the feeling of the wish fulfilled within me right now, even though it appears that it has not yet materialized. To impress my subconscious mind with this desirable loving state I am currently experiencing, I assumed the feeling that would have been mine had I already realized my wish.” When we have real passion about what we want to accomplish this is easy to do. Without the passion, without the emotional side, it’s just hard work.
So you see, discipline doesn’t have to be a bad word. It comes down to focus and simplicity. Steve Jobs said of focus and simplicity, “That’s been one of my mantras… Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
A couple of other quotes on this subject, just for fun:
“ I don’t care how much power, brilliance or energy you have, if you don’t harness it and focus it on a specific target, and hold it there you’re never going to accomplish as much as your ability warrants.”~ Zig Ziglar
“Being selective—doing less—is the path of the productive. Focus on the important few and ignore the rest.”~Timothy Ferriss
“Avoid fragmentation: Find your focus and seek simplicity. Purposeful living calls for elegant efficiency and economy of effort—expending the minimum time and energy necessary to achieve desired goals.” Dan Millman