If Self-Discipline Was Easy

Yesterday, one of my friends posted this on social media, “Accountability to ones self will always be more challenging than to any God or person…” I agreed and in my head thought, “If self-discipline was easy then everyone would have it.”

My friend was right… accountability to one’s self is very challenging. Worse is that when we fail to meet the standards that we try to hold ourselves to, the self-judgment if not outright damnation of ourselves can be pretty damaging.

Accountability and self-discipline are opposite sides of the same coin. On the one side you have accountability and your expectations of yourself and on the other you have to have the self-discipline to fulfill or meet that standard. And let’s face it… self-discipline can be damned hard.

I struggle with many self-discipline challenges. There are many things in this world that I love to indulge in, and I have to focus every day to stay away from completely or at a minimum, strictly moderate my intake. Anyone who knows me knows my weaknesses for sodas, ice-cream, milkshakes, pizza, McDonald’s… all of that. And every day, all day, I struggle as I make decision after decision about what I will have and what I won’t have so that at the end of the day, when it comes for me to be accountable, I am not beating myself up over a lack of self-discipline and or over indulgence.

If self-discipline was easy, then everything would be easy I think, but it’s not and never will be. Practicing self-discipline is like creating a new habit. It takes practice and the more you exercise your “self-discipline muscle” the better you will get at it.

You can leverage self-discipline against your own personal accountability and make it work. It just comes down to some simple questions:

  1. Is the thing that you “want” merely a want or is it a need? If it is a need then of course you should have it. If it is simply a “want” then it is time to practice self-discipline if you need to.
  2. Is the thing that you want worth the grief you will give yourself if/when you choose to hold yourself accountable?
  3. If you have, get, or do whatever it is that you desire is it ultimately taking you toward your goal or away from it? Is it inline with your personal standards or not?

Being accountable to yourself is a great step forward in personal growth and development. That is assuming the standards that you are holding yourself to are reasonable and realistic because if they are not, then you are ultimately just setting yourself up for failure, defeat, and a dose of self-loathing, and there is nothing positive about any of that.

Do your best, and when you slip or don’t do as well as you hoped then at least recognize that you have made progress if that is the case. Some days I break down and I will have two soda’s instead of just the one that I allow myself and I won’t feel so great about that come the end of the day. Instead of beating myself up over it I look at the big picture… it was just one day… it won’t wreck my week and it is still a heck of a lot better than when I would drink several cans of Mountain Dew in a day.

As the old AA saying goes… “Progress, not perfection…” If self-discipline was easy then everybody would be doing it!

Andy Wooten M.A. Counseling – Certified Life Coach – Aspen, Colorado

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