Engaging in genuine discipline requires that you develop the ability to take action. You don’t need to be hasty if it isn’t required, but you don’t want to lose much time, either. Here’s the time to act: when the idea is hot and the emotion is strong.
Let’s say you would like to build your library. If that is a strong desire for you, what you’ve got to do is get the first book. Then get the second book. Take action as soon as possible, before the feeling passes and before the idea dims. If you don’t, here’s what happens:
YOU FALL PREY TO THE LAW OF DIMINISHING INTENT.
We intend to take action when the idea strikes us. We intend to do something when the emotion is high. But if we don’t translate that intention into action fairly soon, the urgency starts to diminish. A month from now, the passion is cold. A year from now, it can’t be found.
So take action. Set up a discipline when the emotions are high and the idea is strong, clear and powerful. If somebody talks about good health and you’re motivated by it, you need to get a book on nutrition. Get the book before the idea passes, before the emotion gets cold. Begin the process. Fall on the floor and do some push-ups. You’ve got to take action; otherwise, the wisdom is wasted. The emotion soon passes unless you apply it to a disciplined activity. Discipline enables you to capture the emotion and the wisdom and translate them into action. The key is to increase your motivation by quickly setting up the disciplines. By doing so, you’ve started a whole-new life process.
Here is the greatest value of discipline: self-worth, also known as self-esteem. Many people who are teaching self-esteem these days don’t connect it to discipline. But once we sense the least lack of discipline within ourselves, it starts to erode our psyche. One of the greatest temptations is to just ease up a little bit. Instead of doing your best, you allow yourself to do just a little less than your best. Sure enough, you’ve started in the slightest way to decrease your sense of self-worth.
There is a problem with even a little bit of neglect. Neglect starts as an infection. If you don’t take care of it, it becomes a disease. And one neglect leads to another. Worst of all, when neglect starts, it diminishes our self-worth.
Once this has happened, how can you regain your self-respect? All you have to do is act now! Start with the smallest discipline that corresponds to your own philosophy. Make the commitment: “I will discipline myself to achieve my goals so that in the years ahead I can celebrate my successes.”