I firmly believe you won’t achieve much in life if you don’t have self-discipline. Have you heard the saying choose your hard? Whichever path you take, there will be difficulties. Being lazy is hard, reaching goals is hard: choose your hard. Which choice is better for us in the long run? Which hard is going to have the most benefits? Being out of shape is hard, exercising is hard: choose your hard. Since fitness can help us avoid chronic diseases, doctors’ visits, medications, and lack of mobility, maybe the hard of working out and moving is the hard we choose.
Self-discipline makes our lives better
If self-discipline is the repeated act of choosing a hard with long term benefits, then it helps us reach our goals. Trying new things and seeing them through to the end helps us even discover what our goals might be.
Whether those goals are career, health, relationship, or another category, they’ll all require self-discipline to achieve. My powerlifting coach said you can never stay in one place: you’re either moving forward or you’re falling backward. The moving forward takes effort but, contrary to popular belief, so does falling backward. You can’t stay in the position, place, or health you’re currently in if you stop working for it—the skills that got you to that point will diminish without an effort to retain and improve them.
School creates forced growth
While we’re in a school system, growth is required to advance to the next grade. This forced growth is planned and scheduled for us and frames our growth all through our school years. Some career paths emulate this forced growth system to maintain certifications and licensing, but it’s never as rigorous as what we find in schools. Those who get jobs that don’t require continuing education can essentially stop growing because there isn’t anyone else pushing them to, so having personal goals in many different life areas helps us to push ourselves and achieve continued growth. As we do our best to reach the goals we set ourselves, and to make and reach new ones, we’ll grow through overcoming obstacles and choosing improvement over laziness.
Teach kids self-discipline early
Even though kids mostly share the forced growth experience of school, they aren’t necessarily learning to set and achieve goals for themselves. Parents should encourage this practice in goal setting to help teach self-discipline. Martial arts are great as a model because the goals are already set and there’s a teacher to help show them the way—but there’s not the pushing or force that they’ll experience in school. Sports also have this kind of structure and can help kids learn how to set and achieve fitness goals.
As always, setting a model through your own practice is one of the best ways to help your kids learn. Improving your own life through the practice of self-discipline will help you teach your kids to do the same, and you’ll all be more satisfied with your chosen hard.