On Discipline

What do financial freedom, health and fitness, education, achieving goals, maintaining relationships, and overall success in life have in common? One word: discipline. The only way I have achieved anything in life was having discipline. This was much easier when I was younger. I was picked on a lot and had few friends, so it was easy to focus in class. I had strict parents, so I always did my homework. The structure was there. When I turned 18, I wanted to break free from rules and proceeded to spend the next 2 years destroying my life physically, mentally, and financially. By the third year, I was unable to support myself financially and all of my freedom was taken away from me. I was forced to focus again. I got everything that needed to be done to start college and graduated four years later.

While I succeeded in graduating college, it was not because I was disciplined. It was because I cut corners. I figured out how to fulfill my requirements by taking “easy” classes. I pulled many all-nighters. It wasn’t until my senior year when I realized I did not have a job or a strong resume. I realized what my lack of discipline had gotten me: A piece of paper and $25K in student loan debt plus $10K in delinquent debt. It wasn’t until then that I realized how important it was to practice discipline in every area of my life.

Buckling down and getting on a budget was hard. Not having a car for eight months was hard. Not eating out and shopping was hard. But they all taught me discipline. I saw that going through life trying to avoid hardship, pain, and loneliness got me nowhere. Going through that pain has given me everything I need to live a healthy, balanced life today AND be debt-free (well almost, I have $1600 left.)  There were many times when I doubted my efforts along the way. I had no positive examples or reassurance except the books that I was reading and the podcasts I was listening to. I had to have faith that it was worth it.

So what’s the point?

Whatever you want in life, whether it’s money, fame, a fit body, a healthy relationship, a home…anything, you have to make discipline a priority. That means writing down your goals and sticking to them. Much easier said than done. For me, I have way too many goals and interests. I decided today to narrow them down to ONE: growing my Maddy Money community. And I have been spending most of my Saturday focusing on this. I did a (late) spring cleaning of some of my posts. I added some more links to my “Free Personal Finance Resources” page. I fully expanded my “About Me” page. I created a MailChimp account and added a signup for my Maddy Money weekly newsletter on the website. Signup here!

The scary thing is that I knew I wanted to do those things; I just thought I would eventually get to it. I am sure you have done that before and know that it never happens. Tomorrow becomes the next day becomes the next day becomes a year later. I was talking to this guy last week about where our dating was going and he said: “let’s just see what happens.” I knew then it wasn’t going anywhere. I never thought I would be that person doing work on the weekends. I wanted to “have fun.” You know what ruins my fun? Knowing that I have dreams and goals that I am not working towards because I am chasing “let’s just see what happens” and worrying about FOMO (fear of missing out.) At some point, we have to say “no” to these distractions if we want to do anything with our lives.

OK, but how do I start?

There is no trick to getting that initial push to start doing and stop thinking, but here are some things that helped me:

Journaling about my goals and values: Do not underestimate the value of the written word. If it isn’t written down it doesn’t exist. If it doesn’t exist it doesn’t happen.

Surrounding myself (virtually) with people who were doing the things I wanted to do: Be mindful of who you surround yourself with. I listen to a ton of podcasts and read many books and they were all telling me to “just start.” Eventually, I started. Even better if you actually know people who are doing what you want to be doing. We are products of our environments.

Creating systems of accountability: By setting up a weekly newsletter I must commit to creating content every week. Automating savings and bill-paying makes it easy to never get behind. Having a gym buddy will get you to the gym. My next step will be to create a Maddy Money community on Facebook where we can share our goals and be accountable to each other. My next step is to start a podcast. See, just by sharing it in this post, the more likely it will get done.

So what are you going to do? What is your next step? How are you going to start? You can always email me at maddycashmoney@gmail.com or tweet @maddymoneycash. I will respond. We are in this together!

2 thoughts on “On Discipline

  1. Great message. Practical, hopeful, and inspiring!
    Thank you for sharing. It’s great to hear that you’ll be posting more!

    I’ve been getting disciplined about:

    HOUSEWORK -even if that means I do everything for a while until others come along. I’ll keep setting the right example, and holding them accountable.
    EXERCISE -running at least 5k every other day, push ups / sit ups / pull downs on the others.
    DIET -I eat better than 99% of the worlds population.
    CALENDAR -owning my time, and prioritizing accordingly.
    BUDGET -finally outgrowing Google Sheets, probably moving to Mint. Also resuming a plan for debt reduction and saving toward: emergency fund, future purchases to eliminate financing, retirement, investment vacations, fun & entertainment, gifts, and charity!

    I have a multi-faceted business concept that I need to BEGIN. I’ve been walking around the idea for years now: looking at it, thinking about it, talking about it, and even exploring a bit how I might get started. I still don’t feel that I’m anywhere near ready to launch, but I do need to KEEP MOVING. My next steps are:

    -Discuss a few possibilities for collaboration with directors of two local non-profits.
    -Study and test for my next level of professional credential
    -Resume working on Business Planning Tool from VTSBDC
    -Enroll in local state college for part time business classes, which may or may not lead to a degree

    That’s my plan, and I’m sticking to it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Will for being such an avid reader of this blog. I am glad you were able to take a lot away from this post.

      On housework: that is huge. I can’t focus on anything if I am in a clean/messy/cluttered space. Moving to my new, way more spacious, apartment has increased my productivity tremendously. I have also been practicing minimalism. I got rid of a ton of things when I moved. Now my space is so zen!
      Excercise: Good for you! I know this has been a goal of yours. Do you have a running buddy? There may be some running clubs near you, or you can start one!
      Diet: You and me both. My friends think I am “just skinny,” but because I acknowledged that excercise was not something I can commit to, I am an incredibly meticulous shopper and eater. Not in a disordered eating way (I am in recovery from that) but in a “choices have consequences” way. I have to say no to myself many times a day.
      Calendar: This is something I can improve on. Right now my calendar is all about obligations to other people and not myself.
      Budget: This is where it all started for me. Mint is best accountability partner for me financially.

      Starting businesses always seem daunting. Good for you for breaking the process down into bite-size chunks. One question, would you be cash-flowing the course or taking out loans for it? Schools tend to be outdated on current business best practices. Investopedia is an amazing resource. S.C.O.R.E is as well. Look for some startup / business / entrepreneurial podcasts. Some which could be helpful: Mixergy, How I Built This, and Don’t Keep Your Day Job. There may be specific ones for the industry you want to go into. From there you will get book, blog, and other podcast recommendations that could provide you a wealth of general knowledge information for free. The internet is amazing! I am not anti-education, but when significant amounts of money are at stake I always try to explore other options.

      Keep me posted!

      – Maddy


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