Discipline is overrated

Note to future self.

Lately I’ve been thinking about the importance of discipline in achieving my goals and I’ve realized that the idea that discipline could solve our problems is deeply embedded in our culture. Reading James Clear’s Atomic Habits I’ve realized that I am not the only one that believes that discipline is overrated.

Clear argues that “The people with the best self-control are typically the ones without need to use it.” He explains that:

“Disciplined” people are better at structuring their lives in a way that doesn’t require heroic willpower or self-control.

I think that this is idea is super simply but brilliant. Willpower seems to be the fuel associated with having a strong discipline but the problem is that it’s a volatile fuel. It’s not reliable across a variety of factors (e.g. time of day, level of fatigue, hormonal level, external cues, etc.) many of which are outside of your control. Thus, we need a better way to be “fuel our discipline” one that’s more reliable and predictable.

I think the solution to this problem of not being “disciplined” enough is to focus on creating a more disciplined environment not on being more disciplined. If your environment is predictable and consistent you reduce your need reliance on willpower. You will obviously not eliminate the need for having a strong willpower because temptations any novel stimuli will always be present but it should definitely make things easier.

I am currently working hard on building a better environment and systems to support this. Will report back with my progress.