Discipline and Freedom

Discipline and Freedom

My room measured 10 by 6; my window looked out across the academic quad.

Stoddard Hall, one of the two oldest buildings on Miami University’s campus: my home for my junior year of college.

I chose a single room.

My sophomore year, I worked as a Resident Assistant.

My roommate, another RA, kept her half of the room pristine: clothes hung neatly in the closet, desk clear, blankets neatly tucked. Often, she tossed my clothes, books, and papers back across the invisible line that bisected our space.

Except on the rare days that I decided to spend hours organizing, my side of the room looked ransacked, the contents of my closet strewn about, my desk piled with books and papers.

When I moved into Stoddard Hall, I decided to be different.

I made my bed every day, flossed my teeth every night. Though clothes sometimes littered the floor of my walk-in closet, I kept the closet door closed and the rest of my room stayed neat and tidy.

My new disciplined life resulted in a the creation of a space where I could relax and study.

Though I value discipline, I don’t always live it.

A mantra during that year: discipline brings freedom.

When we live disciplined lives, we are free to enjoy the results of our effort.

When I am disciplined about running regularly…

When I am disciplined about reading…

When I am disciplined about writing…

When I am disciplined about my schedule…

When I am disciplined about what I eat…

When I am disciplined about spending quiet time in prayer and reflection…

When I am disciplined about anything, I enjoy the results of that discipline.

When I run, running gets easier. I feel energized. My clothes fit better.

When I make healthy choices about what to eat, I feel better.

When I read, I learn.

When I write, I grow.

When I choose to live a disciplined life, I am choosing freedom to be who I want to be and live the life I intend to live.

It’s a daily test. I often fail. Each day, I can start fresh. Each day, I remind myself of the freedom that a disciplined life brings.

Tell me something! What inspires you to live a disciplined life? How do you stay focused on creating the life you want? How has discipline brought freedom to your life?

Filed As:  writing, running

About Becky Robinson

I am the owner of Weaving Influence and the leader of the Weaving Influence team. We help authors and thought leaders grow their online influence. I am also a wife and mom of three daughters, and I enjoy running, reading, writing, a good cup of coffee, and dark chocolate.

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What People Are Saying

  • I need to print your mantra, Becky, and say it every morning. Focus is one of my greatest challenges – my natural tendencies are to start many things, then get frustrated when nothing’s finished. Stephanie Calahan’s newsletters & advice (www.calahansolutions.com, @stephcalahan on Twitter) have been godsends.

    When working on home projects on the weekends, my husband helps keep me focused and redirects me when I stray from folding laundry to “tweeting just one thing” because an idea pops into my head.

    I’ve never been diagnosed with ADD – I definitely have ADD-like tendencies and I’m working on making those tendencies help, not hinder, my productivity.

    I’m a work in progress… then again, aren’t we all? =)

  • Hello Becky,

    Thanks for the great post, I loved reading it. I can definitely relate on so many levels.

    What inspires me to live a disciplined life is the knowledge that when I pay the price and make the sacrifice, everything seems to go fall into place, like pieces of a puzzle,
    In such times, I am calm, centered and composed and in the end, Its always worth the sacrifice involved.

    Currently, I still struggle with discipline in many areas. More often than not, I get up later than I would like to. And then I am unable to write or have a quiet time where I can reflect or pray.

    Yes, today I woke up later than expected, same as yesterday and the day before. My morning began in a major frenzy to get everyone ready, out the door and to work/daycare/holiday school on time.
    As I rushed, huffed and hurried through the house, packing lunch boxes and brushing a variety of hairs (mine included!), I mentally scolded myself for missing out on my early morning quiet time.
    Tomorrow is yet another day……i will enjoy the peace and freedom that comes with waking up early…..if only for sanity sake.

    Best- Tamkara

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, Tamkara.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

      Here’s a question for you: in times that you have been more disciplined with your morning routine, what has helped with that? What worked before?

      For me, remembering and returning to what worked in the past propels my success in the future.

      I’ll be thinking of you tomorrow morning when I rise early and I’ll be praying that your morning goes smoothly.

      I look forward to getting to know you more and I hope you’ll return to this space for more conversations.


  • Thank you for the kind wishes.
    I do know what has helped me with my morning routine in the past and I will be disciplined enough to adopt it tomorrow.

    Will definitely be returning to this space.


  • Great Story Becky! I so relate!

    Dorm Room, Home, or Life… There is freedom in discipline.

    (Although, I’m not sure the teenager inside of me will ever admit that!)

    Thank you for taking the simple things in life and consistently turning them into a life lesson!

  • I chose discipline in college as well; I purposely chose morning classes (what frat guy chooses morning classes?) because that meant I wouldn’t waste the day sleeping. (as one earlier commenter noted) I, too, am blessed with ADD, and it takes a lot of discipline to do what I need to do, but I’m always happier having gotten to what needs done *early* so I can get to the fun stuff later!

  • Wonderful post, Becky. Let me share two observations.

    For most of the people I’ve coached over the years, the issue has been finding the balance of discipline and “going with the flow.” I’ve come to think that you need “just enough” discipline and that “just enough” varies a lot from person to person.

    The corollary is that you need to be conscious about the side that doesn’t come naturally. I come from a long Prussian heritage, so discipline came easily. My challenge was to limit the structure so that I could see and seize opportunities and serendipitous situations. So I had to use my discipline to set aside times to not be disciplined. Coaching clients who’ve do the “flow” part naturally have used it to determine what they need to be disciplined about today.

    My other observation is that you get better at this over time if you work at it.

  • Becky,
    Delightful post. I was the messy one in college as I had to be the neat one at home – oldest child must set the example, yada yada.
    When I got married, good heavens, I had to be the neat one again – my hubby has ADD.
    Then I was the mom, certainly have to have that discipline piece in place again!
    Guess what? I have messy places and incredibly disciplined places in my life. I choose! To me that the truest form of freedom – I can choose to be disciplined or not. I don’t have to be disciplined, I WANT to be “sometimes”.
    You continue to “weave influence”, it is a gift. Thanks for giving it to us all.

  • There’s that synchronicity thing again, my friend! You have written out much of what I have been having conversations about this week. Like Angie, my challenge is always focus. A few days ago I met a new client that has a culture built where freedom is valued above all else. They are a productive company and a great place to work. Yet, in some senses, they have become indisciplined. They are afraid to create order because they believe it will limit their freedom. Not true. It reminded me of a Montessori environment where everything has its place. The order in the environment allows for freedom of choice and space to learn and grow. Thanks for your thoughtful, heartful post. Loved it, as always! It’s left me thinking and I LOVE it when that happens! Big hugs from Mexico.

  • Hi Becky,

    As the owner of two businesses and twenty-two horses I have learned how important structure and discipline are – sometimes just to get you through the day! I like being disciplined in my professional life and (you are right) it has created the freedom to run my businesses as I choose. But I also agree with Wally, that you have to find a balance. I have had to learn to prioritize and to shut that drive for discipline and order off in other parts of my life. It took me quite some time before I could stop approaching my vacations as though they were military operations. I can now accept the fact that my house will probably only be tidy when we have company, and I am learning to look at weeds as though they have equal rights to live in my garden. Giving up discipline can also be freeing. Finding the balance is probably the ultimate freedom.

    • Laura – thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. I agree with you (and Wally) that balance is important.

      I have been pleasantly surprised by the conversation around this post. All the comments have been very thoughtful and thought-provoking… enough that I plan to write a follow-up very soon to reflect further on this topic.

      I appreciate your interest in and support of my work and I look forward to getting to know you more! 🙂

  • Great Post Becky! Your posts always get me thinking……

    Just the idea of self discipline is exhausting for many of us, because we immediately relate it to work and difficulty. We often set ourselves up for failure when we set out to practice a discipline that simply does not fit comfortably into our daily schedule. No one likes to fail, so we associate discipline with disappointment.

    It is time to change our view of “self discipline” and use it to our best advantage. “Self Discipline” is not punishment, it is simply a means of training that produces a skill.

    If we can think of it as gaining a skill- we will feel less charged by the HAVE TO’s and the SHOULD’S in our lives.
    Self Discipline is a quality of great leaders and its a skill that takes mastery…. Mastery that takes a lifetime.

  • Becky – I absolute luv this post! I have read it several times and it truly speaks to me. It is amazing how discipline can change your life for the better.

    For some of us, discipline is a skilled that needs to be learned. Once you have it down, it can open up a whole new world – whether that world is in your professional life or personal life – the impact is immediate.

    As someone as mentioned in their comment, so many times we look at discipline as a “chore” – part of our To Do List. Or discipline is thing for somebody else, but not me! It is a GAME CHANGER!

    Thanks Becky for the strong post and great topic…Keep Weaving!


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