Personally, I’ve always felt my body shut down whenever I hear the word ‘discipline’. Maybe you feel the same. It’s no longer the case for me, and I’ll get to this in a moment.
First, allow me to describe what discipline looked like in my past.
Discipline to a younger (and less wise) Bea:
- Memories of nuns measuring the hem of the skirt of my school uniform.
- It reminds me of the agony of standing in line waiting for my turn to board an airplane.
- Visions of dragging my sleepy self come to mind. I head to my former office job at an ungodly hour so I’m not late.
- Turning my back on things that seem more fun to doing what I’m ‘supposed’ to be doing – aka boring.
Does this resonate with you?
How do you define discipline?
This word carries the notion of reprimand, chastisement, and even punishment. If you don’t do this, punishment awaits.
We see this looking at the word in Old French descepline. It implies observing rules. And suffering, pain or correction when we don’t listen.
In Latin, disciplina means teaching or learning. It could refer to a field of study or it could also mean being a pupil under a master. We can think of Jesus discipling the twelve. They were learning from him.
You may not like what this word ‘discipline’ conveys, however we can redefine what discipline means to us. Take it from a place where it’s allowing you to course correct, to stay intentional about what you want more of in your life. We can embrace discipline so it serves us well into our work and life.
The benefits of discipline
But here’s what happens as we grow in wisdom about its true meaning: we uncover the greatness that discipline unlocks.
As a believer, I came to learn that God like a loving father, disciplines us. We may feel it’s punishment, but we are being rebuked or corrected. It’s important so that we can grow in maturity.
The truth is that in our immaturity and early steps, we don’t know what we don’t know.
That’s where being a disciple matters.
It’s about asking ourselves what we are discipling in our lives. What we sow, we reap. So let’s make sure we are adopting discipline and self-discipline so we grow in wisdom.
To me, this looks like being a perpetual pupil under God, my Father. Allowing him to prune me, to sift through my bad habits or the lies of doubt, insecurity, and fear. It’s obedience.
The benefits are numerous but here’s a few.
When you have discipline, your focus improves. It’s because you have more self-control. Distractions don’t get to you as much. You know what to focus on.
Success goes hand in hand with good discipline. Are you willing to surrender to discipline? If so, you’ll be learning good habits and also practice them. When old bad habits poke their heads, you’re able to recognise them and slowly unlearn them.
Better performance and productivity
Now, I don’t mean performance in a hustle-till-you-drop way. I mean that overall, how you do things in your work or life will receive a boost. You’ll more likely achieve the results you’re seeking. You’ll be able to get on with what needs doing, and to keep the momentum. Thus, building a productive process and making measurable progress.
Closely related to the above point, discipline helps you to beat procrastination. You know what you have to do, you know the end goal, so there’s less confusion. You can move with more ease.
Harmony in relationships
Discipline is not for us, but also benefits others. Our actions, behaviours do impact the people in our life. The absence of discipline may cause rifts or tensions in your family or unnecessary dissension at work. People around you will feel respected, understood, and know clearly you care about them.
Manage your time better
Discipline helps you stick to a schedule. One that you’ve set for yourself to meet certain milestones or goals. You can manage the time slots for each area in your life better as a result. You will more likely be punctual, you’ll juggle appointments better, and have more order and structure in life.
What this means for the slow life
We learn that discipline is not as boring, rigid or punitive as we thought. It’s about being in the student seat, learning and unlearning and taking the good example set by a mentor or mistress/master in our chosen discipline. Mine is writing and business.
As much as I hated the word before due to the corrective discipline I’ve been subject to, I’ve unlearned that discipline is a bad thing. I no longer associate it with horrible thoughts.
Now, I choose to be disciplined in the things that help me make a difference in the world, starting with life at home and in my small biz.
I’m willing to be disciplined in my planning, in how I approach setting goals, and how I show up for those I serve.
This doesn’t mean I adhere to a military-like structure. Not at all.
My life doesn’t exclude naps, rest, daydreaming and having fun or being playful. I’m VERY disciplined in that. In fact, it’s because I’m disciplined that these can happen – they are vital to my goals as a nomadic writer and creator.
I hope that this article adds to your life and that you’ll start to shift your approach to discipline. And as you do, may you continue to grow in your character and on your calling journey.