Recently I have undertaken the monumental task of schooling myself in the subject of discipline. It is a subject I have often pushed aside for emotionally pleasing rewards such as snoozing a six a.m. wake-up call or skipping a treacherous two and a half mile run. Personally, I strongly believe discipline is a fading virtue among my generation, but, surprisingly, discipline is a virtue that can be learned with a little patience and careful planning.
This morning exemplifies a prime example of my acute discipline deficiency. The alarm sprung awake at 6:30 A.M. Two seconds later, my emotional alter-ego began bitching about the rude awakening. I caved. With the alarm subdued until 7:00 A.M., I nestled back into the warm cocoon of blankets. This is not an anomaly; this is a frequent occurrence. Every one of us is guilty of this emotional, irrational pleasure on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, a lack of discipline will not just put to bed an otherwise lazy college student, but can damper or even prevent us from achieving life goals. I know there is more than one guitar out there that sits idly in a corner, beckoning to be played, but is refused to be strummed because of a simple lack of discipline.
If you are like myself, there is more than one aspect of your incredibly potential life that requires a discipline check. When we view a task as a monstrous whole, even the most motivated of us are deterred. Instead of viewing a task from a holistic perspective, break up the project into smaller components. The Swiss Cheese Method, created by well-known time-management specialist Alan Lakein, is ideal for tackling gigantic, time consuming projects. Simply starting a project, even for five spare minutes, then returning to that project repeatedly will yield long term results because progress constantly occurs.
Now, apply the Swiss Cheese concept to discipline. Take one aspect of your life (i.e. academics, physical health, etc.) then work on one behavior that aids in the development of discipline in that lifestyle variable. Once you have accomplished a small feat (i.e. waking up on time everyday for two weeks) move on to the next behavior. Remember, discipline creates the foundation for a purpose. If you need help forming a purpose, I am sure you can find a few solid resources (cough*Choose on Purpose*cough).