Only the Disciplined Are Free
I think I’ve heard that statement many times over the past couple years, and in many forms. I knew it to be true when I first heard it… but you wouldn’t think I believed it from my actions.
Just look at the previous article I wrote, and you will see I was definitely NOT disciplining myself to continue updating this site!
Seriously though, I wanted to take this time to talk about this concept, because when it comes to being successful, or even just being free in general, this seems to be one of the most important attributes you need; to be disciplined.
I was at Life Leadership’s Masters of Leadership conference in Ottawa this past weekend, and I heard this topic discussed in almost every talk in some form or another. I was in Quebec City a week earlier listening to Claude Hamilton talk about this concept there too, and in greater detail.
It was a sign. It’s time to be more disciplined.
After all, Successful people discipline themselves to do daily what unsuccessful people do only occasionally
I love what Jerry Harteis said; “If we don’t get tough on ourselves, life will get tough on us”
Claude illustrated this point so well while in Quebec, and reinforced it this past weekend.
He gave this example in our health. If we are not disciplined to eat healthy, and we eat donuts all day, we are going to get fat… we won’t have the same energy. We will lose the freedom to be as active as we once were.
If we continue, and we don’t stop eating bad, we might eventually have a heart attack; we will be stuck in the hospital and a “slave” to the system, where we can’t get out until the doctor says so. He will warn us to stop eating so badly or things will get worse…
If we don’t stop, and we continue eating really badly, we’ll soon end up back in the hospital with tubes sticking out of us and not able to go anywhere. We will have lost even more of our freedoms to do as we wish if we never develop the freedom to eat better, we would eventually die – losing our freedom completely.
However, if we discipline ourselves to workout everyday, it will give us the freedom to eat some doughnuts without the same consequences. We still need to be disciplined in how many we eat, but we have more freedom to eat them.
Another example would be if we don’t have the discipline to follow the law; like if we go over the speed limit and not have the discipline to slow down. First, we get a speeding ticket and points on our license. We lose some of our economic freedom because we have to pay the tickets (and if we don’t pay the tickets we go to jail and lose almost all our freedoms for a time). If we continue to speed, we can get enough tickets and points that we lose our license; we will have lost the freedom to drive. If we didn’t have the discipline to not drive, we could be stopped again and then go to jail – once again losing our freedoms.
Only the disciplined are free.
If want to be financially free, we need to be disciplined in our finances, and disciplined in our activities.
If we continuously spend more than we make, we will be losing more and more of our economic freedom because more and more of our earning will go to pay the interest on the debt. Eventually this will lead to bankruptcy and show ends; you will not even have the freedom to be undisciplined anymore
If we are disciplined in our finances to spend less than we make, and in our activities to continuously grow our income, we can have enough assets to retire; we can live off of what we disciplined ourselves to do.
Over the last few days, I’ve been thinking about all the ways I have not been disciplining myself, and what I came up with is a clear indication of why I’m not where I wanted to be at this point in my journey..
Thankfully, this previous lack of discipline only defines my past, and not my future.
If I truly want to be free, I need to discipline myself to do what is necessary all of time, instead of just some of the time. I will do this. I hope you will too.
I heard a song yesterday that I used to love; “let’s live for today” by the Grassroots. I loved the music, and still do. It’s catchy. Unfortunately, I also loved the words; and I tried to live by them for too long. there is a partial truth to the words, but upon listening to lyrics again I realize how bad a lesson that song is for life. The words in the beginning, and even the chorus, is not a good message, even if it is a good tune.
As I was listening to the song, and singing along in my head, it helped me realize why I’ve been so undisciplined. The words had brainwashed me for so much of my life – between this song and many other media sources.
The song is telling us to forget about the future, and live only for today. It is basically telling us to forget about discipline, and just do what makes you happy in the moment. For those people who don’t have dreams anymore, or for those who don’t have the discipline to achieve them, this song will make you feel better. But if you want a better future than your present, do the opposite of the words in this song; even if it as catchy tune.
When I think of all the worries
That people seem to find
And how they’re in a hurry
To complicate their minds
By chasing after money
And dreams that can’t come true
I’m glad that we are different
We’ve better things to do
May others plan their future
I’m busy loving you
This first verse puts the notion in our mind that our dreams won’t come true, and that it’s a waste of time to pursue them – don’t let it brainwash you like it did me for so long!
We’ll take the most from living
Have pleasure while we can
This used to sound so good to me, because it is the complete opposite of discipline. I loved it because I didn’t want to work. I just wanted to have fun!
Unfortunately, living this way actually meant having less fun, because I was, and still am, forced to spend so much time working for a paycheck, that there is little time for fun!
I think that song was attractive to me, and is to many other people, because it lets us off the hook. When we have no hope for a better future, it allows us to feel better about ourselves for being able to be happy in the moment (which we should be, but not JUST in the moment).
As I started to write this post, I listened to the song again, and went through the lyrics. I still love the song, and wanted to listen to it again. I think its easy to love that song because we want it to be true. We want it so much that it even sounds true, even at this moment.
But is not true. It is not good advice; no matter how good it sounds.
Be happy for today, but don’t live for today
Live for your future.
This means work for your future. As Claude Hamilton said many, many times:
If you take the easy way out of life, life will get harder. If you take the hard way out of life, life will get easier.
Discipline yourself for your future.
Be disciplined, and be free.