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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

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              Last Updated on July 17, 2019

              How to Make Changes in Life To Be The Best Version of You

              How to Make Changes in Life To Be The Best Version of You

              Let’s start with the problem:

              You get back from work. You’re tired. It was a long day. You know there’s things you could do, to get out of the rut you’re in.

              But, let’s be honest. You really would rather relax, sit down and chill for a bit. Grab a snack. Watch your favourite show.

              By the time you’ve done that, the day’s over. There’s just not enough time. To make this worse – you don’t have the energy or willpower to make changes in your life today.

              So where do you go from there?

              What you need are some easy to apply actions that are proven to work.

              This article is going to give you 4 steps on how to make changes in life so you can follow today and get closer to success – even when you are feeling tired and lazy.

              These steps have proven to work for me, and many of the coaching clients I work with privately.

              1. Squash Inconsistency by Giving up Motivation

              Now most people, when they want to make changes to their lives, focus on making lengthy to-do lists and plans. They think over and over again about what is going wrong, what is going well and what they want, etc.

              All in a bid to push themselves to getting more motivated.

              Guess what? This isn’t going to work.

              Willpower and motivation are feelings. Feelings are vague and unreliable.

              Instead, what you should do is focus on putting your flawed unpredictable self in the best possible environments.

              If you do one thing first from this list, it’s THIS:

              Find and go to the best possible environment for the area of your life you want to change.

              For example:

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              • If you want to get fit, make your first goal to show up at the gym three times a week.
              • If you want to find a new relationship, show up to a meet up in your city for single people.
              • If you want to be productive and make your business idea work, don’t work at home, go to a co working space nearby.

              The reason people fail to become the best version of themselves is because they underestimate the power of environments to influence behavior.

              Accept that you are flawed, prone to distractions and your motivation and willpower will fail you.

              The best hack at your disposal? Show up to “change inducing” environments and get out of your comfort zone (physically)!

              OK. Next step.

              2. Recruit an Elite Team to Help You (For Free)

              Open up any social media platform you’re active on that contains some positive connections you have.

              Send this message to one person you already know and trust ton help you make changes to your life:

              “Hey [first name]. Can I be really frank and honest with you? I’m having one of those – ‘OMG I NEED TO MAKE CHANGES TO MY LIFE!’ moments.

              And I was browsing the internet, looking for tips and this article I came across suggested accountability. So here I am, messaging you to be part of my accountability system.

              My ask is simple.

              Can we sit together once a week at [x place] but do absolutely no socializing? I’ll buy the [coffee/food] and it will be a space to force me to do [x thing]. You literally have to do nothing other than eat the free coffee/food I pay for lol. But it will keep my accountability high, which is what I need.

              What you reckon? Can you help? Thanks!”

              Now obviously, change the language to suit you but you get the idea.

              Not only are you going to environments that will help you make changes, but by bringing a friend (or two), you make it even likelier that you will succeed. It doesn’t even have to be in person, it could be a video call.

              People fail to make changes to their lives because they try to do it all themselves.

              It doesn’t really work in long term, and it doesn’t have to be this way.

              You can recruit and “enlist” people to help you. By doing this, you’re taking care of the up and down motivation you have.

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              Not only are people happy to help, when they see this type of behavior, they’re also inspired and motivated to change their lives. Pretty soon, you end up creating change in not just your life, but other people’s too.

              So when the next dip in willpower comes?

              You have a friend sitting right next to you, watching your every move, making sure you get things done anyway.

              3. Build Good Habits Effortlessly

              Changing your life means changing your day to day habits.

              Habits are automated behaviors you do everyday, like how a clock works, without thinking or motivating yourself to do them.

              Some habits help you to change, others can stop you. One of the best ways to replace your ‘bad’ habits with good ones is to treat them like old clothes. What happens when your t-shirt gets old, faded and out of fashion? You replace it with something new and improved.

              Do the same thing with your habits – upgrade and replace them with something better. Start small, then slowly graduate to higher levels of difficulty.

              Let me give you a clear example of what I mean:

              A few years ago (before it became mainstream), I was trying to start my own habit of meditating every single day to help boost my productivity and mindfulness. I’d done a mind blowing course called Vipassana. It involved 10 days of deeply powerful meditation combined with noble silence in a remote part of the UK.

              Now it was easy to do when I was there (#1 – environment!) with all those other meditators (#2 – people helping me). All I could do was meditate. There were ZERO distractions. I had NO CHOICE.

              When I got home however, after a few days of sticking with it, I quickly caved.

              Those extra 30 minutes of sleep were just so much easier than waking up everyday at 4am for a long one hour meditation.

              So what did I do to build this really important habit?

              Like with most things, I wanted to make changes to my life. I wanted to become my best self.

              I knew how important it was. I just couldn’t follow through consistently and kept failing over and over.

              Then, it hit me.

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              I needed to start small. I made a tiny change, that made all the difference.

              I made a tiny change, that I could stick to – without fail – that has me meditating daily every single day now.

              What was it?

              Instead of trying to do something BIG inconsistently (1 hour of 4am morning meditation) and failing again and again. I decided to do something small consistently.

              Building any good habit really just comes down to repetition. The way the brain is built works in favour of this.

              My new habit became:

              When I wake up, I will fold my bedding neatly. Then I will sit cross legged for 30 seconds with my eyes closed.

              Eventually, once I did this consistently for a few months. I increased difficulty.

              When I wake up, I will fold my bedding neatly. Then I will meditate for 10 minutes.

              Why does this work?

              What’s important here is that the behavior you want (meditating) is tied to another consistent habit (folding your bedding).

              I attached my new habit to one that already is consistent.

              Making it more likely to happen.

              Secondly, I aimed for consistency, not perfection. This is where a lot of people fail. They have an idea of the change they want, but things become all or nothing.

              When you do this, you fail to realize the power of consistency. The brain you have loves patterns. In this case, I trained my brain to repeat a set pattern every morning when I fold my bed.

              There was no motivation or willpower required.

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              This training has gone so far now that if I miss a day of meditating, I really feel uncomfortable. I’m just as conditioned to meditate as most people are to checking their phones in the morning.

              If you want to learn more about quitting bad habits, Lifehack’s CEO also has a guide on it: How to Break Bad Habits: I Broke 3 Bad Habits in Less Than 2 Months

              4. Create More Time by Quitting Social Media

              You know the best thing I’ve ever done for my productivity and it took me 30 seconds to do?

              I deleted all social media apps from my phone and blocked them on my laptop.

              Then, to reinforce it, I told all my friends and followers on Facebook (my most used platform) I wasn’t using it for a while.

              Now, there’s nothing wrong with my social media. Social media is a tool. Tools are neutral. It’s how we use them that is “productive” or “distracting”.

              We each have to judge how healthy our usage is, especially when weighed against unlocking our best self. That said, for most people reading this, including me, I think limiting our usage is a very favorable advantage.

              One of the best ways to make changes in our lives is not to add new tools or tricks. But simply remove things that distract us.

              Social media is something I use heavily for my businesses. Technically I’m a “social media influencer” and “YouTuber”. I need to be posting constantly, right?

              Our situations are unique, so I came up with a unique solution for this. After deleting and blocking these apps from my devices, I installed a social media management software that still allows me to post my updates.

              The big difference, however, is I cannot spend any time scrolling and being distracted.

              Final Thoughts

              Change is not always about more. Sometimes it’s about doing less and getting rid of what distracts or blocks you.

              Trying to do things by yourself is a good way to fail. Share your goals and pitfalls with people, no one helps until you ask.

              Start with small changes consistently instead of big changes failed at consistently. The momentum will give you results over time.

              So what to do next to make changes in your life?

              1. Write down where you are going to GO to create the changes you want.
              2. Message 3 to 4 people on social media and ask them to help you using the message template I gave you.
              3. Choose one small habit to get started with immediately and upgrade it over time.
              4. Delete all, or at least most social media apps on your devices, and notify people you are leaving to make it stick.

              More About Making Changes in Life

              Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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