Why wake up at 4 A.M.? It feels a lot nicer to stay in bed. It’s dark outside. You feel like a few more hours of sleep won’t hurt. Former Navy Seal Jocko Willink puts it pretty well: “That discipline that you have at that moment [when you get out of bed] is a big victory. And that victory becomes a pattern that carries on throughout the day because, oh, now that I’m up I won that battle so I might as well go work out and so on.”
My first experience with having discipline came a few years ago when I decided to stop drinking soda completely as a New Year’s resolution. I knew how addicted I was, drinking about two sodas every day. I started 2018 by vowing to never again drink soda, and I failed after two months. I realized quickly that I was just doing it to see if I could do it, and that was clearly not enough motivation. Doing something as a test of your abilities is never enough motivation to continue. I realized then that, to accomplish any goals I set myself, I had to convince myself that it would bring me positive results and change a few things that I wanted to change. Since December 31, 2018, I have not had a single sip of soda. The mentality only gets stronger as time passes. A thought that crosses my mind every time I want it is “Is drinking this really worth wasting two years of progress?” “No” is always the answer.
Once The point of the anecdote is that discipline takes work and continued motivation; you cannot just throw away something that makes you happy because you want to test yourself. When applied correctly and upheld, discipline leads to amazing results. My skin and teeth both became significantly healthier as a result of my changes, confirming my beliefs and perpetuating my motivation. Last year, I challenged myself to work out at least 7 times a week, including runs and soccer sessions, a challenge I have succeeded in because of my continued motivation and belief that using my time to improve my fitness will give me the physique that I desire.
When I was younger, I often questioned the importance of discipline. I did not understand why getting out of bed right when you wake up or shutting off your phone when studying is important. I now understand that it is not always about the long-term goals. It’s about having a healthy character and attitude and not depriving yourself of necessities by wasting time. If you are picking up your phone and checking Snapchat the whole time you are supposed to be studying or doing an assignment, you are not only wasting your time but also depriving yourself of sleep by forcing yourself to be up until 2 A.M. finishing other tasks. Another aspect of having discipline that is a major upside is the positive mental effects it has. If I am experiencing a period of time when it seems that everything is going wrong, I’m losing all my motivation, and my grades are dropping, carrying on a disciplined routine of working out and doing work makes me feel good about myself and increases my overall self-confidence.
Discipline is not something that you can be trained to have or something that comes from your parents. Discipline comes from you and you alone. You have to want to blame yourself for the problems you’re seeing, instead of others. You have to want to get out of bed before the sun rises. You have to want to change a toxic relationship or sustain a healthy one. Most importantly, you have to want to improve your character, attitude, and health. The single best advice I can give for becoming a disciplined person is that you have to convince yourself that the goal is worth the suffering. You will have to watch your friends eat things that you wish you could, or watch your friends spend time playing video games while you’re preparing for an AP exam, but all of it will be worth it in the end. The goal must be worth the suffering.