Discipline

I recently called my cable company and cancelled my cable service.  What does that mean?  It means that I have no TV.  It means no Final Four games, Masters golf coverage, Reality TV, no 24, CSI, Lost or even ESPN!  It also means no reports of random shootings, rainy weather forecasts ruining my weekend plans, infomercials and commercials for stuff I don’t want or need.  Why did I do this?

 One word…discipline.

 I realized that many of the changes in our lives, either good or bad don’t happen in one significant dramatic action.  They happen as small incremental changes over time.  They happen little bits at a time.

I remember when I was growing up; our family had a pet dog.  Her name was Mandy and she was a beautiful fawn colored boxer.  Mandy loved to be rubbed on her neck but she also knew that she was not allowed on the couch.  When I would be sitting on the couch and she was sitting in front of me, I would rub her neck and ever so slowly she would eventually raise one paw and just place it on the couch.  Then, even more slowly she would place her weight on that paw and slowly raise up to put her other paw on the couch.  Within 5 minutes she would be completely in my lap…. and the odd thing would be…I would let her.  However, had she just jumped on the couch…she would have been immediately reprimanded and put back down on the floor.   But back to my TV…

Like Mandy, my TV viewing habits had slowly increased over time in a direction and quantity that I did not want.  Watching the morning news while enjoying my morning coffee gradually over time became watching an hour of Regis and Kelly!  Catching up with the evening news while I ate dinner eventually became TMZ and then a host of bad TV shows.  I knew I really had a problem when I was actually recording Oprah and Ellen in the afternoons so I could watch them at night!  That’s when I knew I had a drastic problem… and drastic problems require drastic actions and I had to take action.  …Goodbye cable.

Discipline comes in many forms.  I went to a Military College, so to me, the word itself certainly takes on a meaning of extreme restraint, allowing no fun or enjoyment and even a little bit of pain thrown in for good measure.  That type of discipline is not what I’m talking about.  On the other extreme, I’ve been told that I’m too disciplined and need to “lighten up” and learn to “dance with life”.   So for a year I just went with the flow.  I did what I felt like doing and sought enjoyment in all that I did.   While it was fun for a while, nothing got accomplished.

So where do we land with this?  How can we come to terms with allowing discipline to play a useful and vital role in our lives?  How can it be enjoyable?

I think the answer is pretty simple.  I think discipline is “the short term application of long term thinking”.  To say it another way…it’s doing the things you NEED to do instead of the things you FEEL like doing.  I think short term thought is like junk food.  It’s filled with feelings that prompt you to do what is easy, safe and routine but in the end does not make you better.

Whereas long term thought requires just that…thought.  It requires planning, steps, reasoning and intentional actions that are in alignment with a predetermined pattern and a specified outcome.  Long term thought makes you grow.

 Ok…now that I know what it is…what do I do…?

Ask yourself, “Is the behavior I’m currently exhibiting something I will be proud of a year from now”?

If the answer is no…change it.

Figure out what you want, what you need to do and begin.  Don’t wait.  Do it today…do it in the next hour…in fact…stop reading this and do it in the next 5 minutes!

We need to ACT our way into feeling rather than to FEEL our way into acting.  Do what you need to do…then your feelings will follow.  Don’t wait on “feeling like doing something” in order to act.

 And by the way…get your paw off the couch…!

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