There’s a line in a song by the British band James (I Know What I’m Here For):

You can have whatever you want, but are you disciplined enough to be free?

It’s one of those lines that stick with you. And, it’s not just for 90’s hipsters. Even Stephen Covey in The Eighth Habit notes:

Only the disciplined are truly free. The undisciplined are slaves to moods, appetites and passions.

Stephen Covey

When you’re an employee for someone else, pleasing your one customer (aka your boss) is your discipline. There isn’t much freedom of movement unless your boss is someone who challenges you to establish self discipline. That can come in a variety of ways, but more often than not, your discipline comes from above. You also have a sense of security that comes with a regular paycheck and established boundaries and expectations.

When you’re working for yourself, self discipline is a choice. And in many cases, extreme self discipline is required. Sure, you can have clients that establish deadlines and requirements, as well as set expectations for deliverables. But if you’re really going to be your own boss, you have to cultivate your own self discipline.

Doing so has immense rewards. The freedom you can cultivate from self discipline and setting good boundaries can lead to a good life.

Comfort Zones Are Killers

A long time ago before I was a mom, I joined this health club. In so doing, I was assigned a personal trainer to do an initial assessment to make sure I had a plan and to also ensure I didn’t drop a barbell on my neck. The guy who was assigned to me recently retired from the marines. I wrote a little bit about that in 2015 here.

That experience has always stuck with me, and it’s been one of the most defining moments of my life. Whenever I’ve gotten a little too comfortable, I’ve always reached beyond those zones. I’ve taken leaps of faith that have left me wondering whether or not I would survive. If I look like I’m doing something stupid, I always blame that marine.

But just doing dangerous, risky or bold things for the thrill doesn’t build things. Doing it for a purpose with focus can change your life.

It’s not easy. It’s not necessarily fun. But for those of us who are willing to put ourselves into difficult situations beyond comfort and security, the rewards are growth and a freedom no one can ever take from you.

How do you establish discipline?

Make your life challenging. Do something you’ve never done before. Do things you don’t want to do. Take criticism to heart and come back with an attitude of “I’ll show you, all right…” transform adversity into success.

Discipline requires goals. You have to know what you want. Have you written down where you would like to go?

Discipline requires determination and deadlines. If you’ve not written down what you’re trying to achieve and a realistic deadline for getting there, your goal is nothing more than a wish.

Discipline requires vision. Are you thinking big enough?

The greatest discipline of all is in your thinking. What story are you telling yourself about who you are? What story are you thinking about where you came from? =

Create a habit. For the last 10 years, I have walked 3+ miles every day. Granted, I have relied upon the social pressure from golden retrievers to make this a habit, but I honestly don’t know what I would do with myself if I didn’t walk first thing every morning. I do it before coffee, before email, before conversations with anyone else. It’s my time to commune with nature and my thoughts. When it’s a habit, it doesn’t require determination. That momentum keeps things moving.

This is day 8 of #ClickPublish which has been an exercise in discipline, photo is puppy Bodhi at Lake Siskiyou in Northern California.  

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