You are sitting in your room watching the same TV show for the 50th time. What went wrong? You thought you had your shit together.
It’s funny, sure, but you don’t laugh. You just keep staring at the screen and you can feel your mind go numb. That night before sleeping you decide to do something with your life starting tomorrow. You wake up in the morning with the purpose of getting things done and for the most part you do. You feel good about yourself at the end of the day for cleaning your room, washing your clothes and taking care of yourself. You’ve got a minor test coming up and you absolutely crush it and for the first time since forever, you feel like you’ve got your life together. You feel like you need a break from all your hard work, sure why not? You deserve it!
You begin to relax with the comforting feeling that you can do anything. You slowing start giving yourself more leeway to enjoy yourself, you’re in college after all. Days go by and you can feel your motivation level decreasing, you try to get things done but you just don’t feel like it. You find yourself in your room watching the same TV show for the 51st time, a day before your minor 2 exam. You keep procrastinating, telling yourself that you will start after this final episode, but you never do.
Motivation and willpower are low ranking traits on the scale of consistency and productivity. Motivation is like muscle, with a source of energy which depletes over time. Discipline on the other hand implies that you should bring up a certain degree of willpower to overcome laziness. And discipline is far better because you have to keep bringing up that willpower consistently and you get used to it, especially when you do not like doing anything.
Let’s say you decide to wake up everyday at 8 a.m. and get ready for your 9 a.m. class. You might do it for the first week, but around the second week you feel like waking up at 8:15 instead. It’s alright, you can get to class on time and still get everything done. During the third week, you might start waking up at 8:30. Now, you still get to class on time but you start slacking off on your daily routine. You do not want to be that person!
Your goal should be to wake up one morning and feel the monotonous nature of your morning routine. Sure, it might be repetitive and you might feel mind numbingly bored with life. But at the same time, waking up at 8 a.m. is not that hard anymore. You wake up with one single alarm and your entire morning works out like a well oiled machine.
We should train our minds to do the right thing even if it unpleasant or hard and we almost always know what the right thing is, but it’s quite difficult to actually do it. For example, you know eating that tub of Nutella is bad for you but you do it anyway, you know procrastinating before a test is bad for you but you do it anyway.
So if we know what the right thing is, why don’t we just do it? It’s because of our minds. You keep telling yourself “Not today,” or “I’ll finish it tomorrow,” or “Lite the minor got postponed to day after.” The key to self discipline is to ignore your mind.
You feel like running everyday? Good, pick up your shoes and start running. There is nothing more to it. You may feel tired from partying last night, you may feel like sleeping for that one extra minute or it might even be 40 degrees outside. You made a commitment and you’re going to stick to it no matter how unpleasant it might be.
Imagine yourself on a train and you’re riding through life on a set of tracks. As long as you stay on the tracks you are going to be fine no matter how slow or fast you’re going. Self discipline sets those tracks in life and brings with it a sense of structure and order. And when you feel like watching that TV show for the 52nd time, self discipline will stop your train from derailing.
The author Mr. Gaurav Basavaraju is a member of NMC. All views expressed are personal.