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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

Does Less Discipline Equal More Freedom?

Does Less Discipline Equal More Freedom?

Most of us think that more discipline relates to less freedom. The common line of thought is that discipline equals structure, which removes freedom.

This is what most of us think about the relationship between discipline and freedom:

    We assume that there is a correlation between the two ideas. More discipline results in less freedom.

    There is some logic to this thinking, but it’s false logic. If we were building houses, for example, freedom without discipline would offer some unusual results like these:

        People are randomly building homes without considering rules or geometry.

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        Without considering math and the laws of physics, these houses can’t sustain their own weight. Absolute freedom means that they can’t withstand wind or water. They are always a second away from collapse.

        How discipline frees you

          If the people who had built their homes had used a little more discipline, the houses would still be standing. Instead of dealing with the aftermath of collapse, they’d be living comfortable lives in their stable homes.

          This way of thinking about discipline is explained in the book, Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink. Willink is a retired Navy SEAL. His impressive military career spanned 20 years and earned him many commendations. After retirement, Willink founded Echelon Front, a business geared toward teaching the principles that made a successful SEAL. His book details his leadership philosophy. He states,

          Although discipline demands control and asceticism, it actually results in freedom.

          Discipline allows you to practice the daily habits that get you the things you want. For example, when you have the self-discipline to wake up early, you get more free time. If you are disciplined enough to save your money, then you have the cash to take a vacation or make a big purchase that you’ve been wanting.

          Exercising some self-control can go a long way toward getting you the things you want.

          The boundaries for freedom

          Wandering around with no plan may work well for unstructured vacation time, but it’s not going to help you achieve your goals. Setting boundaries for yourself enables you to develop the discipline that will give you the true freedom you crave.

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          Set rules to build habits

          The right framework can help you build a concrete house on horizontal land. Life isn’t always going to make it easy to get what you want. You may have to put structures in place to help you accomplish your goals.

            Left to your own devices, you’d probably waste a lot of time and lose productivity. By setting some rules for yourself, you can create a framework that builds habits.

            Habits are automatic. If you develop positive habits, you’ll be able to do things that are good for you without thinking about it too much. Deciding that you are waking up early every morning and holding yourself to that standard eventually leads you to get up early naturally.

            Having a framework for a formal report holds you accountable for its quality and helps you finish the work faster. With no standards, you might turn in sloppy work, or it might take you a long time to complete a simple task.

            Bend the rules when you need to

            You can make a different style of house that can be built on a slope based on the same framework. While the appearance may have changed, the function is the same.

              The rules that you set for yourself aren’t meant to burden you. They’re just guidelines to help you stay on track. They may cause you a little discomfort, like when your alarm goes off and you don’t feel like getting up. You’ll quickly recover from this minor inconvenience, though.

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              Discipline is supposed to help you do things in a better way, but you should never feel trapped by it. You can follow your own rules, but you may need to bend those rules in certain situations.

              For example, if you have to hand in your report to someone different, you might have to change your style to meet their standards. You’re still using discipline to get things done, but you’re still free to adapt your work.

              Fighting against freedom’s true enemy

              Freedom through discipline requires you to break your bad habits. Whether it’s sleeping in too late, failing to make a plan, or neglecting your health, you can change the things that are keeping you from true freedom.

              1. Remove the triggers for your bad habits

              Habits are hard to break because they come naturally to us. Identify where you need more structure, and make sticking to your plan the easy answer.

              Imagine that you want to get into better shape so that you don’t feel tired all the time. You notice that you always feel too exhausted at night to work out, and you never get up early enough to go to the gym in the morning.

              It’s time to stop making excuses and start acting. Pack your gym bag the night before, and train your body to wake up early enough to work out. You can’t use the excuse of not having enough time or not having the right gear. It’s already ready to go.

              2. Reward yourself for doing the right things

              Setting up a system of rewards and punishments keeps you accountable. Train yourself to maintain discipline by rewarding good behavior and punishing actions that keep you from your goals.

              Your rewards and punishments don’t have to be huge and complicated. They just need to be enough to make you want to form good habits and stay away from bad patterns of behavior.

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              3. Track your behavior

              You might not even realize when you’re doing something that keeps you from being free. Develop ways to track your behavior.

              Jocko Willink recommends making a schedule or task list for yourself and sticking to it.[1] When you do this, you prioritize what needs to happen every day. If you notice that you’re neglecting certain aspects of your life by not completing your task list, you can make changes.

              Chances are, if you hadn’t made a list for yourself, you may not have even noticed what you were missing.

              Reach new level of freedom

              Doing whatever you want all the time isn’t real freedom, but you don’t have to be stuck. It may feel good in the short term to wake up whenever you want, procrastinate, and avoid things that will make you better and stronger, but that thinking will trap you.

              Developing discipline can help you reach new levels of physical, mental, and financial freedom. We need a little bit of order to make sense of the chaos. Build the structures that are going to take you to the next level and help you weather the storm.

              The best part about developing discipline is that it can start whenever you want. If you’re ready to change your life, grab a piece of paper and write out your plan! There’s no better time to start than the present.

              Reference

              More by this author

              Leon Ho

              Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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              Last Updated on April 8, 2021

              How to Overcome Fear and Find Success (The Ultimate Guide)

              How to Overcome Fear and Find Success (The Ultimate Guide)

              Take a moment and imagine what your life would be like if you had no fear. What would you do if you knew how to overcome fear? It’s not difficult to imagine that it would alter your life significantly.

              I believe that fear is the single biggest obstacle that holds people back from fulfilling their potential and becoming the best version of themselves. Fear of failure, fear of abandonment, fear of success, fear of not being good enough

              The question is, where does it come from?

              Neuroscientists claim that humans are the most fearful creatures on the planet because of our ability to learn, think, and create fear in our minds. We scare ourselves by imagining the worst possible outcomes, assuming that we are protecting ourselves from imminent danger.

              You make the choice to be a victim of your fear and anxiety or to push them aside and be courageous.

              In this article, we’ll look into the root cause of fear and how to conquer fear to realize our potential.

              What Is Fear, Really?

              This acronym best reflects what fear is[1]:

              Learn how to overcome fear with the fear acronym

                Fear is an emotion created by your mind based on real or imagined threats. Fear may be completely founded in reality, or not. It may also manifest as anxiety disorders in some cases, as anxiety is based on worries or fears about the future.

                These imagined scenarios of perceived threats end up feeding your fear to the point where it becomes all-consuming. Often, these scenarios never happen.

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                The real issue is not the fear itself, but rather how we hold it in our minds.

                How to Overcome Fear

                Overcoming fear may sound easier said than done. When you are in the thick of fear, it’s hard to see a way out. The good news is that, because you are the root cause of your fears, you are also the solution to them.

                1. Identify Your Fears Through Writing

                There are times when I’ve felt afraid but couldn’t identify why. If you keep your fears inside, you allow your mind to control how you feel.

                In order to prevent this confusion from happening in the first place, identify what your fears are before moving on to learning how to deal with fear.

                What makes you feel afraid?

                Instead of just thinking about these things, write them down. When you write down your fears on paper and actually question them, it forces you to analyze why you are afraid. Questions are designed to trigger your fears and bring them to the surface.

                This isn’t a comfortable process, but deep inner work never is. However, if you continue to keep your feelings in the dark, the scarier they will be, and the more disempowered you will become.

                Once you identify the type of fear and the experience that you associate with your fears, you become armed with the power to take action to change them. Eventually, your fears become smaller and smaller, and your strength gets bigger and bigger.

                As you’re identifying what your fears are, you can try Lifehack’s Free Life Assessment. It will help you identify which areas may be causing you more fear and which you can fall back on as strengths.

                2. Practice Gratitude

                If you want to learn how to overcome fear, gratitude is key. From personal experience, I have learned that it’s difficult to experience fear and gratitude at the same time. They are literally on opposite ends of the continuum of the human experience.

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                When you are experiencing difficult times in life, it’s easy to drop into fear and overwhelm. In that energetic space, it can be hard to stay grounded.

                Developing a gratitude practice allows you to not drown in fear. It doesn’t mean that you won’t still feel it, but the blow will be lessened, thereby allowing you to see the brighter side of struggle.

                In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their physical and mental health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships[2].

                Anyone who experiences fear knows that there is almost always a story attached to whatever it is that you’re fearful of.  Fear loves to hang out with your inner critic and come up with worst-case scenarios about what could happen.

                Gratitude helps keep these limiting stories at bay when you’re learning how to overcome fear. When you practice gratitude, your brain shifts to what is currently working instead of what isn’t working.

                The act of being fearful is a future-oriented process, while gratitude is a present-oriented one. The next time that fear tries to creep its way into your head, replace that disempowering thought with an empowering one.

                You can learn more about how to replace fear based practices with more positive ones in this video:

                3. Release Control

                Being a control freak is how a lot of people manage their fears, or so they think. Unfortunately, control has no place on the path to learning how to overcome fear.

                In actuality, all that they are doing is masking their fears by trying to control everything. If you can relate, it’s time to release control. Trust me when I say that this is a losing battle.

                Fear results in controlling behavior, and when this behavior doesn’t give us the results we’re seeking, it further intensifies our fears.

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                In your attempt to control fear, you actually become a victim of it. This fear and control cycle leaves a lot of people feeling defeated. The reality is that there will always be things that are far beyond your control.

                The only way that we can move past needing to be in control is to accept that it is not always up to us. While you may be in control of your decisions, you don’t always have control over situations that you are pushed into, nor can you control how others react.

                The only thing that you have control over is your inner world and how you choose to respond to your external environment. The next time you catch yourself trying to control everything, step back and ask yourself what you are afraid of.

                Start to get curious about what thoughts are generating your fear. Curiosity and fear don’t like to co-exist. Once you let go of one, you invite the other in, which will help as you learn how to get rid of fear.

                True freedom comes from fully releasing control. When you are able to do this, you begin the process of releasing your fears as well.

                4. Recite Positive Affirmations

                Positive affirmations can be used to combat almost any negative thought pattern, which can be very helpful when you want to learn how to overcome fear. Using them to help challenge your fears can help retrain your brain and have your fears reframed as powerful statements.

                Research shows that you can actually train your subconscious mind such that it will help you to attract exactly what you desire in life[3].

                Instead of saying “I am afraid of doing this because I might fail,” look in the mirror and say to yourself, “I am prepared for this, I am ready, and I will not fail.”

                The more you use positive affirmations, the stronger they become. The best way to cancel a negative belief is to develop its positive counterpart.

                Commit to making positive affirmations a key component of your morning ritual. It literally takes one thought, repeated over and over again, to set you on the path to transforming your entire life.

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                Here are more positive affirmations you can try: 10 Positive Affirmations for Success that will Change your Life

                5. Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You

                Living in your comfort zone will get you nowhere in life, and it certainly won’t help you learn how to overcome fear. In my experience, not doing the things that scare you will only increase the likelihood that your fears will grow and inevitably take over every decision that you make.

                I want to encourage you to do one thing every day that scares you. It can be something small. All that matters is that you take action. Make it a habit to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

                Putting yourself in new and uncomfortable situations triggers a unique part of the brain that releases dopamine, nature’s make-you-happy chemical. Here’s the mind-blower: that unique region of the brain is only activated when you see or experience completely new things[4].

                When you condition yourself to do something every day that scares you, your fear fades away, and your courage grows. Think about it…when you face your fears, how can you fear them again? Soon enough, your confidence will skyrocket.

                Final Thoughts

                The next time that you feel threatened by fear, I encourage you to pull upon one or more of the above strategies. Change your relationship with fear. Instead of letting it knock you down, use it as motivation to grow and achieve more.

                Once you recognize that fear is not real, the obstacles that appear to stand in your way will be removed, and you will feel empowered to take action.

                Your potential in life is limited by only one factor: you. Are you ready to transform fear into action?

                More on How to Overcome Fear

                Featured photo credit: Jonathan Klok via unsplash.com

                Reference

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