We all know that self-discipline is necessary to achieve goals, to become successful and to see ourselves as responsible. Each one of us falls somewhere on the continuum between having very little of it and perhaps being too disciplined and thus rigid. In the middle seems to be the healthiest place to be, with having internal boundaries around the important stuff. But what about the actual consequences of not having enough? Here are a few to consider.
Health Issues. It’s a no brainer that when we can’t say no to ourselves, it’s hard to say no to the pizza and whatever else we crave that isn’t good for us. We say we need to work out yet lack the commitment to actually make that happen consistently. Nor are we getting enough sleep if we are working crazy hours or watching too much late-night TV. All of these things will obviously contribute to health issues, the immediate one such as weight gain and feeling tired, to longstanding and more serious chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
Relationship Issues. When we can’t show up on time for things, follow through on what we agreed to do, or procrastinate to the point that now our spouse has bigger issues to deal with now, such as the leaky roof now causing water damage in the home. The biggest issue becomes the loss of trust in us. We aren’t seen as reliable or at times even believable. Their faith in us…OUR faith in us becomes eroded over time. There is usually either chronic conflict or eventually disconnection in the relationship, since without boundaries there are no true resolution of issues.
Self-Esteem. It’s hard to feel good about yourself when you can’t trust yourself to get things done or be counted upon to be reliable. It’s also difficult to feel confident if we are mired in guilt and shame every week around our lack of discipline and commitment. Confidence is also about emotional maturity which is deeply tied to self-discipline because when we set limits for ourselves we are saying we love ourselves enough to say no to things that aren’t good for us or our relationships. Healing some old pain might be a great way to begin healing this struggle. The other part is simply getting started.
Start small and show yourself you can follow through consistently on something that’s become an issue. Prove to yourself you can build – and maintain – good habits. This will empower you to find the next thing you want to try to commit to. Adding on to the existing makes it seem more doable since you’ve already demonstrated the ability. As with all other areas of personal growth, you will change how you see yourself and therefore want to be more disciplined in other areas of your life. The change will evolve over time, and you will actually transform into someone you may not even recognize today.