Yet, we’ve likely been neglecting it our entire lives
Those around me have always praised my self-discipline. I find it fascinating that I have only learned to appreciate it when compared to other people’s. As far as I was concerned, I was never disciplined enough; I always felt I could do more and that there was room for improvement. Such is the way of perfectionism. While a thirst for improvement benefits anybody, an obsession is eventually unhealthy. It is particularly noxious when it blurs our perception of reality, as was clearly my case: people thought I was exceptionally committed while I felt like a hopeless procrastinator.
In any case, I believe my focus on self-discipline wasn’t misplaced. Indeed, we need it to achieve anything we set our minds to do. I am not talking only about big ambitions and dreams. I mean anything, any personal project or plan, finding a career we love or accommodation that makes us happy, tending to our friendships and relationships — they all need a level of self-discipline. There is no other way around it: anything that matters, anything that is remarkable, anything meaningful requires a degree of grit and willpower.
However, our education systems consistently neglect self-discipline. They teach us to follow rules, stick to timetables and solve the problems presented to us. We don’t get to make rules, create timetables or seek problems. They teach us to clock in and out and to skive when we can as a respite we don’t talk about. We don’t learn to find our most productive time, prioritise and organise our work, or manage our breaks.
Worse still, the masses, thus educated, will often mock the committed individual, the one with the willpower to follow their dreams. If we have a passion, we learn to be humble and almost embarrassed about it, to keep it hidden if possible for fear our friends will laugh at us. If we devote time to special projects, doing things differently from the norm, they will point fingers and demand we “get a life”. The damage is hardly softened by the irony that we are probably the ones with a life in this matter.
By Ourselves First
These days, my willpower is nothing compared to that of my early twenties: it has become much stronger. Teaching myself music production at night after work, learning web development in just over six months or working on my personal projects full-time for over two years have taken my self-discipline to the next level. When we only have ourselves to answer to, things get real. I haven’t had a harsher boss. I feel we should learn to work by ourselves before we work for, or even with, anybody else.
Self-disciplined people are reliable, insatiable and realistic. Willpower allows us to lead. It also lets us freely and intelligently follow when it’s best to be led.
Today’s level of pessimistic optimism: 60%.
Written while listening to: silence.
Thank you for reading! Your support is invaluable at this early stage in my Medium journey. Clapping and following is much appreciated.