Just a thought: Choosing discipline over excuses

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Which defines your life: discipline or excuses? Your answer to this truly determines who you are.

These two characteristics are at totally different ends of the spectrum. You are living your life somewhere on this spectrum.

Victims use excuses, heroes use discipline. Victims blame their problems on others. Heroes take action to rise above.

A disciplined life is a proactive life. A life of excuses is one that is reactive. A disciplined life looks inward. A life of excuses points at others.

Discipline rarely leads to guilt. Excuses often lead to regrets.

Discipline is action. Action is more important than intent. I can live life intending to do small things or great things, but at the end of the day if intent never turns to action I have not accomplished anything.

In our lives we need to figure out how to remove excuses and intent and live a life of discipline and action.

Discipline does not look good ahead out the front window of a car, but its dividends look great in the rear view mirror. Although we can clearly see our past in the rearview mirror, we don’t have the option of stopping our car and putting it in reverse. There are no “do overs” to correct poor discipline in the past.

Where we wake up today on the highway is determined by what is in our rear view mirror, which reflects our past discipline.

Discipline allows you to achieve goals by weeding out the distractions in your life.

We have more options in the future if we have lived a disciplined life. Discipline and time equal great benefits. It’s worth it in the end.

How you spend your time reflects your level of discipline. Discipline is creating time to make good things happen while others are sitting in front of their television set eating potato chips.

What is it that you should be disciplined about? Your relationship with your creator, your relationship with your family, your finances, your body, your job, your time...and the list is endless.

What is discipline? Discipline is taking the first step even when the feeling is not there. It is sacrificing in the present in order to have long term gain.

It can be as simple as drinking water while eating out to save a few dollars on drinks. Add up a year of these and you may have enough to make a mortgage payment or several car payments. It is not having second helpings at dinner or getting out and exercising even when you are too tired to do so. Repetitive acts like this can keep you out of the hospital or out of tight fitting clothes.

Much of parenting is teaching children discipline. Parenting is equipping children to be able to make good choices repeatedly when they are launched into the world. Good parenting leads to children with good discipline. Modeling discipline is the best way for parents to teach discipline.

Discipline is making time for family despite the world demanding your time for countless other purposes. It is reading a devotional or attending church when sleep sounds better. It is doing homework when your friends want to play video games.

Many small disciplined choices can lead to great results. A life of discipline can become a life of joy.

I heard neurosurgeon and politician Ben Carson speak almost 40 years ago and his message in one sentence was “Work hard at the front end of your life and you can coast at the end. Don’t coast early and then spend the rest of your life trying to catch up.” I think this is great advice for each of us. Exercise discipline early.

Because of decades of my working hard, I can move to the “coast” mode of my life.

Another term for discipline is commitment. My favorite definition of commitment is “sticking with it long after the feeling is gone.” I once ran at least two miles every day for over a year. Included in this streak was a 26.2 mile Marathon. Running two miles the day before the almost four hour run was easy. But running two miles the day after the marathon took all the discipline I could muster.

Before waking up one day in an out of town Intensive Care Unit, I had put together 6919 consecutive days of writing at least one uplifting handwritten note to someone. It wasn’t that big of a deal, but it did involve daily discipline.

For you discipline may be graduating from high school or college, having your car or home paid off, being active with your faith family, retiring young, keeping your body in shape, living healthy and avoiding sickness, or many other positive end results. Many small disciplined choices lead to big results.

Discipline begins within you. It starts with self-control. You need to know your weaknesses, remove temptations, set goals, and create healthy habits. It is one good choice followed by another good choice. George Bernard Shaw said “Self-control is the quality that distinguishes the fittest to survive.”

In the New Testament of the Bible we are told at Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness. and self-control. Against such things there is no law” and at 2 Timothy 1:7 “For the spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self -discipline.” Self-control will determine who you are.

My challenge to you today is to choose discipline over excuses. Excuses are easy. Anyone can come up with them. Excuses lead to more excuses. It is a slippery slope.

Discipline leads to success. Discipline is action. Discipline is taking that first step. Discipline is finishing what you start. Which defines your life, discipline or excuses?

Why not trump excuses in your world today with discipline? Why not add value to your daily life with discipline today? Why not define where you want to be in ten or twenty years and the choose to pay the price to get there?

Good luck. I believe you can make it there...if you begin today.

Just a thought...

Rick Kraft is a motivational speaker, a syndicated columnist, a published author, and an attorney. To submit comments, contributions, or ideas, e-mail to rkraft@kraftlawfirm.org or write to P.O. Box 850, Roswell, New Mexico, 88202 - 0850.

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