The first and best victory is to conquer self.
– Plato –
One week into 2017 and we’re all still hyped up about our New Year’s resolutions. I previously wrote about what New Year’s resolutions are all about and since then have been reviewing keyword searches that have led to my blog post. The top keywords are leadership, new year’s resolution and tips. This means that my blog post resonated with a lot of people who are planning their year ahead.
But while it’s easier to envision yourself and create an action plan as I’ve mentioned in my previous blog post, the most difficult thing to do among the three is COMMITMENT. And I’m not going to tell you that I’ve already made it as far as commitment is concerned. Yes, commitment is one of my key strengths because early on in my life, I’ve built the habit of keeping my commitments no matter what the cost. It’s also the reason why I try to really think about the commitments I make before I even make them.
But every once in a while, I fall short on the commitments I have made to myself. That’s why I think the key ingredient in keeping your commitments – and your New Year’s resolutions – is self-discipline. By definition, self-discipline means “training and control of oneself and one’s conduct, usually for personal improvement.” Now, notice the keywords used in the definition: control, self, improvement.
When we engage ourselves in self-discipline to achieve a specific task, we need to control ourselves first. But what most of us do not realize is that the purpose is for improvement. Often times we think that we’re just making our lives more difficult by engaging in self-discipline. We all have a natural desire to improve and develop ourselves. But it does come at a price. Just like how an athlete trains to become better at what he does, we need to train ourselves to become better individuals.
Self-discipline requires three components.
- Commitment. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, this is something that only you can do. If you’ve built a habit of keeping your commitments, you’re on your way towards self-discipline.
- Consistency. I blogged about consistency and how it needs to be a part of our daily habits. Once we’ve defined what goals we need to achieve and the tasks that we need to accomplish to achieve those goals, it’s time to get our hands dirty and start making things happen. This requires consistency. Even if it’s just 15 minutes a day of exercise or 20 minutes a day of reading, it has to be done consistently. This past week, I started on a new Bible reading plan for 2017 on my Android phone from YouVersion and just like my previous reading plans, I already missed two days. But because I have already built a habit of having daily morning quiet times and Bible reading, it was easier to catch up this time as compared to the previous ones. It’s the same with my daily reading before going to bed. But it didn’t happen overnight. It started as a habit that I have built consistently.
- Courage. You might ask,”What does courage have to do with self-discipline?” I say, a lot. The fact is, self-discipline is never easy (I’m also not going to pretend that it’s easy for me because it isn’t.) That’s why we need all the courage we can get to do the things we need to do – the courage to say “no” to your peers going to a bar for a men’s night out because you need to work on your personal project, the courage to say “no” to your bed when you need to be up early to exercise, the courage to say “no” to buy that latest gadget online because you wanted to save more this year and get out of debt quicker. Mark Twain once said that “Courage is not the absence of fear. It is acting in spite of it.“
Question: What areas in your life do you need to develop self-discipline? I would love to hear from you by posting your comments here.