It's Not Just the Money© 2003 Stuart Goldsmith
Discipline produces success even if your definition of success has nothing to do with money.
If your idea of success is to be a great pianist or painter or gardener, then to get there you must postpone immediate trivial pleasure such as watching TV or going out to the pub. Instead you must practice the piano, study painting, or weed the garden ready for the spring. I would submit that even if your definition of success was to be at peace with the world and to be in a blissful connected state with the universe you must first practice the long hours of discipline required for meditation, and practice the minute-by-minute discipline of pushing out the constant chatter of thoughts from your mind. A Zen monk, for example, could be said to be almost perfectly (and excessively) disciplined.
I think unsuccessful people are often that way because they have these two characteristics:
1. They rarely think of the future or plan for it. They live only for today.
Self-development guru Jim Rohn's secret of happiness is 'enjoying today whilst planning for a better tomorrow,' and this is a subject I explore further in the last chapter.
Living for the moment is only half of the story. You can only enjoy today because of the plans you made or work you did 'yesterday.' Similarly you can only enjoy tomorrow because of the plans you make or work you do today. This includes simple pleasures like a day walking in the countryside listening to the birds sing. You can only do that because 'yesterday' (last year, etc.) you worked hard enough and saved some money so that you could take time off. It is obvious that you can only eat today because of the work you did yesterday, unless you have set up your life to sponge from others.
2. They spend every single penny they earn (and usually more) on pleasures right now, today, and do not put anything away for the future.
This is similar to being given a week's worth of sweets and eating them all in one sitting!
Disciplined people use their time and talents to create present and future wealth for themselves. This means getting out of the armchair and doing something. This is hard. This takes effort and it takes will-power. Undisciplined people watch soap operas three times a week, go down the pub all the time (a net outflow of money), go out for meals, buy all the latest toys or generally fritter away their time and talents for thirty of forty years. And then.... huge surprise...they're broke when they retire!
Look, this hardly needs saying. There's nothing wrong with watching television sometimes, going down the pub now and then and having the odd meal out. These are pleasures. This is jelly now. Then, you turn the TV off and get to work on projects which will make you wealthy. You stay in several nights and work through until midnight on the same thing. This is investing time in your future, and is an identical concept to investing (saving) money for your future.
A disciplined person does not spend all his/her time now, in trivial pleasures, they save some for the future. Time is funny stuff. You can't put it in a box and save it for a future day, say the end of your life, and then haul it out and get extra days of life. The rule with time is that you have to invest it straight away. It multiplies and produces money in the future. You use this money to buy time from other people. For example, the money releases you from the need to work, and so that gives you a whole lot of time - much more than your original investment of time. Or, you use the money to pay someone to do your garden or your DIY, and that frees up a whole lot of time for more pleasurable things.
So the analogy is exact. Undisciplined people squander all their free time now on pleasures (eat all the jelly) and get, say, 100 units of pleasure. Disciplined people use a little of their time for pleasures (eat a little jelly now), then invest their time for the future. This multiplies many fold, and frees up vast amounts of time in the future. The net result is that they get (say) 1,000 units of pleasure in total over the years. This is their reward for being disciplined. I hope this makes sense.
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