Discipline: Identity or Activity?

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Brian Kight

I'm not much of a planner. I enjoy spontaneity and despise feeling constrained. That's just part of my programming. It's important that I'm free to decide for myself.

That's what attracted me to discipline. The freedom I insist on with my decisions will only benefit me if I am a disciplined decision-maker. Notice how I worded that?

It's not, "I need to make disciplined decisions."

It's, "I am a disciplined decision-maker."

The first is an activity. The second is an identity. I can easily discard an activity. I’m far less willing to violate my identity. Moving discipline from an activity to an identity sets different expectations.

When discipline is an activity, it feels like something you're supposed to do. When discipline is an identity, it's how you demonstrate that you are who you say you are. This demonstration is primarily for yourself.

When discipline is an activity that's not part of your identity, acts of discipline feel like denials of your identity or forced deviations from it. It feels fake. You feel inauthentic. Internal resistance starts to form because you perceive discipline as something that prevents you from being yourself even as your inner voice reminds you that “you really should be more disciplined.”

However, when you elect to make discipline part of your identity, disciplined activity logically follows and feels emotionally aligned with who you want to be and what you want to accomplish.

Here’s how I simplify for myself:

  • I am the decision-maker in my life.
  • I am free to make any decisions by any means I choose.
  • I want the best for my life.
  • Therefore, I am a disciplined decision-maker.

That's the identity I've chosen. It's up to me to fulfill that expectation today.

What identity are you choosing? How will you demonstrate that to yourself today?

The time is now. Do the work.

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