It’s that time of year again! Time to pretend that next year will turn out different than all the other years before it. “This year,” we promise ourselves, we’ll stick to our resolutions, get in shape, stop smoking, get that new job…and then, we know – we just KNOW it, then we will be happy. Then life will be good.
Well? It’s true! You will be happier and life will be better. Or rather, life would be better if you actually kept working at your goals.
Sorry to tell you the bad news, but the other part is probably not true – you will not keep your resolutions this year any better than you ever have before. Next year will end up pretty much like this one except that we’ll all be another year older.
Unless you learn one little tiny lesson that changes everything.
You don’t have to run that half marathon or quit smoking or create a new revenue stream or make new friends…but if you learn this one little lesson, then there’s a pretty good chance that you will.
Ready to begin? That little lesson is called DISCIPLINE – the ability to suffer just a little bit in order to get something you want.
“We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.” ― Jim Rohn
Jim goes on to say that discipline only weighs ounces while regret weighs tons. It’s true and we all know it, but the problem is that discipline is the first pain. We can choose to deny, avoid, and procrastinate, and thus delay some life’s pain while it grows and intensifies. When regret and other consequences inevitably arrive, it’s too late to dodge them.
The most encouraging thing about discipline is that – once you decide you want it – it’s easy to acquire! All you need is a little practice, and that doesn’t need to mean running a mile before work while it’s -5 degrees outside.
You can practice on even the tiniest thing, like washing the dishes immediately after a meal, or doing one sit up before turning on the television. The lesson you will learn from such small efforts is that it’s not as hard as you imagined to face the tiny discomforts of life!
If you try a bit harder – clean up a messy room or do 25 push ups – then you’ll also experience the rewards of discipline. The clean room will boost your mood. The endorphins released and satisfying feeling of putting your muscles to work will make you feel more alive than you remembered it’s possible to feel. I PROMISE you will soon hear yourself thinking, “Why didn’t I do this a long time ago?!!”
It’s that simple. Just take a few baby steps, then some big boy/girl steps, and sooner than you think, you’ll be ready for giant steps to put some serious distance between your old self and your wonderful new life.
Life gets somewhat better when you accomplish your goals, but it gets a lot better when you acquire some discipline. Suddenly your stresses fade away (because you face and solve your problems quickly, before you have time to worry about them). Your peace and joys grow steadily deeper (as your confidence increases and you can relax without those unmet goals and needs hanging over you and stressing you out all the time).
Why not make DISCIPLINE ITSELF your New Year’s Resolution?
If you still find it difficult to talk yourself into trying on a little discipline, then I have one more suggestion: read. Read about adventures. Read about heroes. Read about people who succeeded where you, up until now, have failed. Get inspired. Let books and articles show you the possible, and let yourself think, “If they could succeed, why not me?!!”
If you don’t like to read (I should write another post on that!), then at least watch movies of that sort.
You may also find reading about discipline itself rather encouraging, so I’ve included some snippets here. These are from M. Scott Peck’s “The Road Less Traveled,” from Section 1 entitled “Discipline.”
“Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”
“Most do not fully see this truth that life is difficult. Instead they moan more or less incessantly, noisily or subtly…as if life were generally easy, as if life SHOULD be easy.”
“What makes life difficult is that the process of confronting and solving problems is a painful one.”
“Life is a series of problems. Do we want to moan about them or solve them?”
“Discipline is the basic set of tools we require to solve life’s problems. Without discipline we can solve nothing. With only some discipline we can solve only some problems. With total discipline we can solve all problems.”
“It is in this whole process of meeting and solving problems that life has it’s meaning.”
“Problems are the cutting edge that distinguishes between success and failure. Problems call forth our courage and our wisdom; indeed, they create our courage and our wisdom. It is only because of problems that we grow mentally and spiritually. When we desire to encourage the growth of the human spirit, we challenge and encourage the human capacity to solve problems, just as in school we deliberately set problems for our children to solve. It is through the pain of confronting and resolving problems that we learn. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Those things that hurt, instruct.” It is for this reason that wise people learn not to dread but actually to welcome problems and actually to welcome the pain of problems.
“Most of us are not so wise. Fearing the pain involved, almost all of us, to a greater or lesser degree, attempt to avoid problems. We procrastinate, hoping that they will go away. …We attempt to get out of them rather than suffer through them.
“This tendency to avoid problems and the emotional suffering inherent in them is the primary basis of all human mental illness.”
Make a resolution to Do Something Difficult every day! Face a fear. Solve a problem. Do a single situp before turning on the television. Share this with your friends and ask for their support. If you do…next year will NOT be the same as every year before it. You will find yourself a new person when 2015 rolls around.