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Discipline equals freedom

Think they’re polar opposites? Guess again
Blog 291 discipline

When you think of discipline, what’s the first image that springs to mind? Some kind of army drill sergeant, perhaps, or someone who only eats steamed fish and veggies every night of the week.

A lot of people think that discipline means being regimented and structured. The word itself can be a bit of a trigger; if you’re someone with a strong inner child, or who likes to be spontaneous, then hearing it can immediately make you want to rebel.

Contrary to popular belief, and as ironic as it may seem, discipline actually creates freedom. Having the discipline to learn a new skill gives you the freedom to set up a business. Having the discipline to work hard during the week gives you the freedom to close your laptop on weekends. Having the discipline to get up early for a workout gives you the freedom to kick back in the evenings (oh, and to be fit and healthy, too, of course).

People often connect discipline to athletes and other high performers, but really, anyone can muster it. As James Clear writes in Atomic Habits, disciplined people are simply ‘better at structuring their lives in a way that does not require heroic willpower and self-control’.

Sounds simple, right?

There’s another great book that encapsulates the benefits (and the how-to) of discipline. It’s called Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual and, living up to stereotypes, it’s written by a former US Navy SEAL, Jocko Willink. In it, he explores how discipline and freedom appear to sit on opposite ends of the spectrum, but are actually very connected. He writes that financial freedom comes from financial discipline. That free time comes from better time management. And that without discipline, we can never make any real headway towards our goals.

Discipline can be both mental and physical. The former might entail creating schedules and to-do lists, while the latter is the nitty-gritty, like getting up early and exercising. This kind of discipline is about getting things done, but there’s also the other kind of discipline, which is more to do with overcoming or avoiding things, like weaknesses, procrastinations, temptations and fear.

The key message from all of this? Transformation doesn’t happen by itself; you’ve got to do the work. And discipline is what’s going to keep you on your path – a path that leads you to where you want to go, and to the kind of freedom that you want to have in your life.

– The Coach Place Global

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