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I want to discuss a topic that may make you cringe. Cultivating discipline.
Now, I know the word discipline itself has a bad connotation. You hate hearing it. It harkens back to days where you were told to sit up straight in school or you would go to the principal’s (disciplinarian’s) office (at least in Catholic school). Or your parents would discipline you by grounding you for not doing your chores or something. Yes, discipline.
As individuals in our 20s, 30s, and 40s here, we are responsible for fostering our own discipline and mindset. Sure, our bosses could reprimand us or the cop that pulled us over can give us a ticket. Those are forms of discipline. But, true day in and day out responsibility and accountability comes down to cultivating discipline in ourselves and our daily routine.
Would you agree?
Here with Run The Money, I am focusing on cultivating discipline in the areas of financial health and physical health. All of these require a mature amount of discipline to not only invoke in our lives, but consistently apply to our lives.
Cultivating discipline with your finances:
If you’re a Christian (particularly Orthodox or Catholic), you are participating in the Lenten season as I write this. And, as is customary during Lent, you are probably fasting or abstaining from certain foods. Especially for Orthodox Christians (of which I became one in 2016 after converting from Catholicism), you are used to fasting. There are fasting periods all throughout the Church calendar, but the 40 days of Lent are by far the toughest.
Now, there are varying degrees of fasting that Orthodox abide by. Obviously, the Church wants you to be outright vegan as opposed to vegetarian. But, hey, as a convert, I’m doing my best here. My wife and I are going with the vegetarian route (so no meat, yikes!) and we decided no sweets (read: desserts) of any kind. I actually decided earlier this year that I was going to eat less fried food this year (Dave likes his hamburgers and French fries).
Fasting in and of itself is designed to draw us closer to God. It’s where we fill ourselves with the Lord (read: Bread of Life) which then satisfies our hunger. It’s a very awesome concept to grasp and it’s fun to explore those truths. However, this isn’t a blog based solely on concepts from Scripture. Yes, I like to include it as an element of teaching and sharing my thoughts because it’s a large part of my life.
But, there’s more I want to touch on here outside of the spiritual benefits.
What is that you ask?
Well, fasting – particularly giving up sweets – actually caused my wife and I to literally lose weight overnight. We stopped eating sweets on Monday and Tuesday morning I had lost 3 pounds and Anna lost 1 pound. No, not substantial by any means. But, a major encouragement for two people who love their cake, cookies, ice cream and brownies.
So, fasting has given us a glimpse of the benefits of discipline. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
Well, I’m glad you asked. First of all, once you begin a discipline in one area of your life, it makes it easier to do so in other areas. Not at first, at least in my experience. But, as you do something more and more, you make it a habit. You can actually make cultivating discipline in your life a habit.
Think about it.
Let me discuss my running career with you. I ran on my high school cross-country team and basically stopped running in 2002. Yeah, I may have done a jog here or there when I was completely out of breath during my college years, but nothing major. I didn’t really start running again until July 2014. So, yeah, it was a very long hiatus. I got out of the running discipline from high school and I sucked when I tried doing it again.
But, 2014 wasn’t like my college attempts at running again. I attempted to redefine the running discipline in my life when I committed to running my first half marathon later that year. It gave me a purpose. It gave me a “why.” It gave me a reason to be disciplined in the first place.
I had something I wanted to accomplish. Further, I was seeing tangible results by way of losing weight, getting stronger from a cardiovascular standpoint, and being able to run long distances. I cultivated a discipline where I saw the progress up close and firsthand because it was taking shape in my own body.
The same concept of discipline holds true for your financial health in addition to physical health. For instance, consider the questions posed below for both finances and mindset. Are you cultivating discipline in these areas? If not, why not?
Maybe this self-reflection and desire to cultivate discipline forces you to dig a little deeper into why you do the things you do. In that case, ask yourself the following:
Cultivating discipline in life is an important trait to develop within yourself. It doesn't come naturally. At least it didn't for me. Rather, it was a skill I needed to (and continue to need to) work on and master.
The same holds true for getting control of your financial health and physical health. I write about these areas because, in my humble opinion based on experience, they are related and connected. Poor health often leads to poor money habits. Yes, as with anything, there are exceptions. But, I’ve experienced this and am still battling some of the effects.
If at all possible, I want to help you avoid some of the places I struggled. That’s the point here. You learn from my experience and I learn from you. That’s the beauty of blogging, of you commenting, and of this amazing thing called the Internet.
How are you cultivating discipline in your life? What disciplines do you want to cultivate? Please share your thoughts below.