“Discipline equals freedom.” — Jocko Willink, retired Navy Seal and author.
I find so much truth in Jocko’s words. I’ve always been a disciplined person but never thought about it in terms of freedom. Having discipline in life allows you to have more control and do the things you want to do. Here are a few ways I am incorporating discipline into different areas of my life to achieve freedom and stay on track for my goals.
1. A Morning Routine
Getting up early in the morning and having a routine allows me to be more productive during the day and gives me the ability to enjoy more of my afternoons and evenings. I wake up at 5:00 AM on weekdays to go through my morning routine, which consists of breath work, meditation, journaling, and movement. I spend the rest of my mornings writing articles, researching new ideas, making calls, and trying to corral my puppy, Ham. Discipline in my morning routine allows me to use my afternoons to go to the gym, get outside, and work with others to achieve their own goals.
“Lose an hour in the morning, and you will spend all day looking for it.” — Richard Whately
2. Financial Well-Being
Discipline with finances allowed me to quit my job last year to pursue a more fulfilling life. We can all get caught up in the comparison game, trying to keep up with our friends and acquaintances as they buy nice cars or big houses. I struggled with this early in my career but found it led to misery. As I grew older and began to simplify my lifestyle, I found my stress levels dropped immensely. Going into debt for consumer purchases only ties you down. It can force you to stay in a job you find unsatisfying just to keep your head above water. Watching where your money goes and saving for the future will eventually allow you to do things you really love.
“Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.” — Epictetus
3. Physical Practice
Exercising and eating right gives me the freedom to test myself and expand my horizons both physically and mentally. I know most people have no desire to do something like complete the World’s Toughest Mudder but it was a goal of mine last year. The only way I was able to do it was by putting in hours and hours of work on the trails and in the gym. Maybe you would like to lose ten pounds or play games with your kids. We all need to be able to move through this world without fear of injury. It will still take the discipline to eat healthily and have a physical practice even if it’s just walking.
“Don’t be a liability.” — Laird Hamilton
4. Learning new things
Having the discipline to question your own viewpoints while listening to the opposing views of others gives you the freedom to learn and grow. Holding steadfast to a position can lead to ruin. There is no reason to tie our self-worth into any position. Look at the research on nutrition, there are so many opposing viewpoints on what is good for you and it constantly changes. We need to have the mental flexibility to throw away what isn’t working. To do this you need the discipline to test your ideas and always be curious. Search out information that conflicts with your opinions and try to understand it. Always be curious!
“If someone can prove me wrong and show me my mistake in any thought or action, I shall gladly change. I seek the truth, which never harmed anyone: the harm is to persist in one’s own self-deception and ignorance.” — Marcus Aurelius
To Sum it Up
It is not easy to be disciplined in life and I struggle with it daily. There are many times I would rather sit on the couch and mindlessly watch TV instead of sticking to my plan but I know in the long game this will not serve me. Motivation can only get you so far. Changing your life and achieving your goals takes hard work and it starts with discipline. We must be disciplined to turn off the distractions that are all around us and start taking action. One of the biggest tasks we can accomplish in life is having the discipline to show up. Most people will never even try. It won’t be easy at times, but if we want true freedom for ourselves, it’ll take some discipline. Whatever you are looking to accomplish, make a plan and get started. Don’t let the bad days throw you off and remind yourself daily discipline leads to long-term freedom. Keep fighting and eventually, you will get there.