“Discipline is remembering what you want”

by Sarah on April 5, 2016

I’m a naturally disciplined person.  It’s part of my personality type and a core value that I’ve developed over the years.  However, just because it comes naturally for me doesn’t mean it comes easily.  Moving toward what I want despite the challenge, pain or sacrifice it requires remains an uncomfortable daily choice; and one that often hurts.  So, I am deeply drawn to the truth that David Campbell expresses in his quote, “Discipline is remembering what you want.”  I have to recalibrate and reconnect to the awareness of what I want on a regular basis, or my days become cluttered and overstuffed with tasks that lack meaning.

What I love about this concept is that though discipline for disciplines’ sake may be a virtue, it has no staying power.  It can turn us into high-strung, over worked, exhausted individuals; it can squeeze us in its vise.  When we push ourselves forward we may eventually stall out, burn out or give up.  However, when we clarify our hearts’ deepest desire, and stay resolute to the purity of that vision, we find strength for the long haul.  In the work I do with clients, we are deliberate about setting very clear goals and creating simple steps to move toward realizing those hopes and dreams.  It takes a lot of discipline to break old habits and create something new, and the intentional process of drilling down to the core of what they truly want, before setting these goals, is the most important step in the process.  It is fundamental to their success and satisfaction.

When we connect to the “for the sake of” in each of our endeavors, we find a deeper, more solid sense of purpose.  One way to do this is to simply ask yourself, “What do I want?” and then follow up the answer with a series of “so that” until you hit the rock solid bottom of your core desire.


I want to exercise and eat right

So that…I can feel good in my body

So that…I can have the energy I need to do all that I want to do

So that…I can experience a sense of accomplishment and that my life is productive

So that…I can move forward and become all I was created to be

So that…I can carry out my higher purpose in life

So that…I can experience fulfillment

Can you see that exercising and eating right isn’t actually what I want?  I deeply desire to fulfill my higher purpose.  The discipline of exercise and eating right is an action that supports this deeper motivation.  So, when I reach to hit snooze as my alarm goes off each morning the truth I keep at the top of my awareness is “for the sake of fulfilling my purpose” as opposed to “for the sake of getting to the gym on time.”  I have to practice reconnecting to my purpose SO THAT I do not lose heart.

What if your task list was full of things like “Experience Fulfillment” and the disciplines to support them were actions like exercise and eat right?  What would that be like?

Try this exercise this week and share with me the new perspectives that you discover:

Ask, “What do I want?” followed by, “So that…” or “For the sake of…” until you hit your core desire.  Then, create 1-2 action steps that move you toward the realization of this meaningful aspiration.

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