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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

              How to Create a Habit of Continuous Learning for a Better You How to Learn Quickly And Master Any Skill You Want How to Improve Memory: 7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways How to Increase Brain Power, Boost Memory and Become 10X Smarter How to Stop Bad Habits: 9 Scientifically Proven Methods

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              Last Updated on November 5, 2019

              7 Steps to Start Living Your Dream Life Right Now

              7 Steps to Start Living Your Dream Life Right Now

              Have you ever heard the question, “what would you do if money was not a factor?” It is one of those questions that people often brush aside, because quite frankly, money is a factor. The doubters will mock you as naive or foolish, but deep down you know it is possible to start living your dream life. You know there is more to life than working and paying bills.

              It seems as though most people are just trying to get by. They work because they need to make an income to support their life.

              People not only settle in the workplace, but also in their relationships with their friends and family. You may even know people who settle by compromising their integrity and core values.

              That is why it is not naive or foolish to start living your dream life, it is essential.

              Living your dream life is more than being rich, it is the belief that you are living a life aligned with your purpose. If you are ready to free yourself of the fears that cause you to live your life according to the expectations of others, then follow the below 7 steps found in the book – Champion of Change, the 7 Instrumental Laws of Change:

              1. Construct a Plan of Action

              The foundation for you to create your dream life is for you to take the time and visualize what that life will look like.

              This is more than the normal vision board you may have heard before. This form of visualization requires you to use all your senses. Olympians are well-known for their visualization practices as they prepare for competition. The reason they do this is because everyone is very talented by the mere accomplishment of qualifying for the Olympics.

              To gain an edge, Olympians will visualize themselves competing in their actual event. Emily Cook, of the United States free style ski team is quoted as saying she engaged all her senses in her visualization. She moves her body as if she is skiing down the slopes, she feels the air as it blows through her hair, and she hears the roar of the crowd as she crosses the finish line.[1]

              Olympians visualize in such detail because they understand they only have one opportunity every four years to compete. The best way they can be ready for the moment is by continually competing in their mind. Studies support this belief as they show you can literally gain muscle by visualizing yourself working out [2]

              2. Focus Your Attention

              If you want to start living your dream life right now, you are going to need to adjust the way you see the world. Your beliefs create your consciousness, and your consciousness creates your reality, and your reality is maintained by the way your mind filters information.

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              Everyday, you receive millions of sensory inputs and your mind filters out most of them to keep you from going crazy. The ones you receive are the ones that your mind believes matter to you based on past experiences.

              One of the most popular examples is when you purchase a new car. As soon as you purchase that car, suddenly you notice that car everywhere. Now you probably know that everyone did not purchase the car the same day as you, but what happened?

              Well, when you purchased your new car, you told your mind ,”this car matters to me”. As a result, your mind is now showing you the car that has always been there.

              Your mind blocks out most of the stuff that is going on while you are driving to help you stay sane. Imagine if you were consciously aware of every line, tree, car, deer, squirrel, reflector and sign while driving.

              The same way your mind can adjust your filters based on the action of purchasing a new car, you can take actions to create your dream life. As you take action, your mind will show you new opportunities that were always there (just outside of your previous filters).

                Learn more about how to focus here: How to Improve Focus: 7 Ways to Train Your Brain

                3. Put the Systems and Processes in Place

                Once you have the proper mindset to start living your dream life, you are ready to shift your focus to maintaining your early wins.

                The mistake most people make is they are excited in the early going, but they are working solely off discipline and willpower. Your willpower and discipline are exhaustible resources that will fade over time. That is why most people quit their New Year’s Resolution 30-days after starting. That is also why people who are on a diet will make nutritious decisions throughout the day, and fail miserably late at night.

                Each time you withstood the tempting call of sweets, the likelihood of you withstanding another call decreased.

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                This is why it is so important that you put systems and processes in place that limit the need for you to use discipline and willpower. In the case of our dieter, it would be better for them to trash all the candy they no longer want to eat.

                The reason is simple:

                Whatever food that is in your house, you are going to eat at some time or another. The only way to truly ensure you will not eat the candy is to throw it away.

                This is also true when it comes to you and your dream life. If you want to ensure that you follow through on your vision, you have to be willing to limit the ability for you to revert back to your previous life.

                If you want to stop relying on your willpower and start making things happen, these tips will help: How to Break a Habit and Hack the Habit Loop

                4. Accountability Is a Must

                When you are accountable to someone or a group, you will find yourself more motivated to continue. Deep down, we all want to be accepted by others. Even though this can work against you sometimes, this particular occasion is not one of them.

                When you proclaim your goal to other people, it improves the likelihood of you following through.

                You may be surprised to know, but you experience accountability on a regular basis.

                • If the CEO asks you to provide a report, you are going to make the best report of your life. You understand the opportunity and value of making a good impression with the CEO.
                • Now imagine if your coworker asked for the report. Will there be a difference in quality?
                • How about if you were going to a class reunion? Would that improve your commitment to get in shape?
                • Even when you know you are going to have company over at your house, you are going to clean better than if you knew no one was coming.

                Accountability works because you want to keep your word and make a good impression of yourself in front of others.

                5. Catalyst for Change

                There are things you can control and things that you cannot control in life. Do not allow the fear of failure or fear of uncertainty keep you from living your dream life. Everything is not going to go smoothly on your journey. You are going to face challenges and setbacks.

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                The good news is failure is a part of success. They are two halves of the same coin. What tends to happen is people spend so much time trying to avoid failure, that they never realize they are undermining their ability to find success.

                By understanding that failure is a part of success, you understand your goal is not to avoid failure, but to build on it: 10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

                Your dream life does not necessarily need a positive event to start. Oftentimes, it is the negative events (or perceived negative) and a sense of desperation that drives people to reach further than they ever have before.

                Your catalyst for change may be exactly what you wanted or it may be the worst thing that could have happened. Either way, your focus is on what to do next. You want to build on that event by stacking positive events on top of it.

                Positive events are anything that move you closer to your goal. In your case, anything that moves you closer to your dream life. Whether you quit your job or your boss fired you, it is all about what you are going to do next.

                Choose to respond to each situation by taking another step towards your dream life.

                6. Character Matters

                In a study between two schools on opposite ends of the economic spectrum, positive psychology experts created a list of character strengths they believed essential to success.

                Their list included grit, self-control, zest, social intelligence, gratitude, optimism, and curiosity.

                Some of the character traits were common with how most people view success; such as grit, curiosity or self-control. However, gratitude, zest, optimism, and social intelligence (compassion) were on the list, but their relation to success is often overlooked.[3]

                It is important to remember that change comes from the inside-out. Your core values are the prism through which you accomplish your goals.

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                7. Muster up the Courage

                Once you have completed the first six steps, you have everything you need to start living your dream life.

                Do not allow yourself to procrastinate on your transformation. The fear of change may disguise itself as a thoughtful plan to wait for more information or better timing.

                Keep in mind that you are not looking for the perfect situation, you are only looking to start. One you get started, you are going to be better equipped to make any changes.

                I often compare starting your journey like walking through a fog. If you stand on the outside of the fog trying to see to the other side, you are going to find it very difficult. But if you are willing take the first few steps, you are going to realize that you can see a few more steps into the fog.

                If you are willing to continue walking, before you know it, you can see clearly because the fog is behind you.

                You have an idea of what your dream life looks like and you have an idea of the effort it is going to take to make it happen. However, you do not really know how realistic your expectations are until you experience it.

                Final Thoughts

                There is a lot of work that goes into living your dream life, but you will find it well worth your time.

                Most people regret the things they did not do more than anything they have ever done. Therefore, do not settle for a life that is less than your dream life. Pursue your dream life with effort and resolve.

                More About Living Your Dream Life

                Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

                Reference

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