Say that you become a disciplined person. You get up daily at pitch black, and you exhaust yourself to a near-flat line well before others have brushed their teeth. What do you think is the main problem to keep this operation going for eternity?
There are self-discipline problems that a lot of people never consider. Hell, I never thought about them until recently. But as these remain unaddressed, they become the reason we re-enter the state of lethargic existence – the one we fought so long to escape from.
I am not talking about self-discipline challenges – things that prevent us from becoming holders of the holy force of willpower.
I am talking about problems that emerge when you are now successfully living a life of monotonous sameness that is yes, dull, but it’s propelling your ass in a nice upwards trajectory.
What Do I Mean When I Say Self-Discipline Problems?
See, the struggle to become a rebel against chaos by turning every moment into a symphony of order is obvious. There are countless courses, videos, books, and a bunch of people on Instagram trying to convince you that attaining a level of sameness in your life is going to be easy if you follow their guidance.
What I am addressing in this article is something else.
The problems that emerge when you already are self-disciplined.
It sounds strange, I know.
“Isn’t becoming a monotony maestro by following the same daily routine a ticket to an error-free life?”
Well, I thought the same for a certain period of my life, but that belief was interrupted after the first issues of my routine life emerged.
What I mean when I say self-discipline problems is the following:
You successfully create a morning routine followed by a set of daily rules that keep you focused on your desired personality, habits, and values. However, as you resolve problems here and there, you notice how others start to avoid you, and/or you start to avoid them.
I noticed this a couple of months ago.
After working for more than four years on my desired daily routine, I realized how unwilling I am to participate in group activities.
Here are a couple of examples:
Others invite me to a birthday party?
I don’t think about the potential fun I will have there. My mind enters schedule mode, trying to determine the best time to leave the party, so I can go to bed on time in order to get up fresh in the morning.
Others invite me to a spontaneous trip to a nearby country?
I don’t think about taking pictures for my Instagram followers. My mind enters math mode, trying to calculate if this unplanned expense won’t cause a lot of problems to my well-set monthly budget.
Others demand that I should go to a conference in the other hemisphere?
I don’t think about using the event as an excuse to not follow my daily regime. My mind goes into a planning phase, trying to figure out in advance when and how I will work out.
I don’t know if you think about these topics. But I do.
Gradually, I shifted from being a “hell yes” type of person to an “absolutely no” type of guy.
Let me explain…
Years ago, when I used to laugh at people who had daily schedules and eating regimes. I was always saying yes to every invite – no matter how crazy or stupid it was.
- A friend wanted to go out? Sure.
- A friend wanted to travel to another city? Absolutely!
- A friend wanted to get wasted in the middle of the week because he had a fight with his partner? Count me in!
I was doing everything possible to avoid being alone with myself. I was seeking the company of others not because they were (always) a good company, but because I couldn’t bear my own company.
This was the purest form of escapism. Going out to avoid going in – not exploring why I don’t want to face my own problems.
But as I replaced the existing activities in my life with such that are extraordinarily unexciting – i.e., good habits. Things changed.
I became less interested in going out, and more interested in staying in. Spending time on the activities that help me progress, not such that lead to regression.
Eventually, as I hinted above, this not only diminished my enthusiasm to go out the way I used to do. But also resulted in others no longer inviting me – as they used to do.
What Are Common Self-discipline Problems?
Being a disciplined person requires constant repetition of the same routines. You abandon the belief that there is a state where you are forever fixed. Plus, you realize that there is no permanent correction. In other words, there is always work to be done.
With that being said, below I will list the problems that arise from this monotonous lifestyle.
Note that these might not all apply to you – it might even be that none of them do. Still, listing these issues not only helps me better handle them. But it can also help you – the reader – tackle these even before you decide to enter a life of methodical existence.
1. Social Isolation
I started drinking as a teenager. Not because I loved the taste of liquor – who does, right? But because I struggled a lot with socializing.
Drinking gave me a ticket to hang out with the other kids – the cool kids. Thanks to liquor, I was no longer this nerdy boy who couldn’t say a thing to a girl. I was outgoing, funny, and charismatic.
I won’t talk here about the problems related to drinking – there are plenty.1 Or the benefits of not drinking – these are huge, too.
I am going to share the problems related to not drinking when you have literally spent years building a reputation as “the party guy”.
When big books change the way I think for the better. Quite naturally, I terminated my relationship with destructive inclinations.
This caused something unexpected – at least something I considered surprising then. Instead of my friends cheering me for my abstinence. They were surprised that I was no longer willing to enter the alcoholic paradise with them.
Of course, here you can conclude that I had bad company to begin with, but this is not the case. My friends are pretty bright people who are quite smart and caring. They simply don’t want to let go of their relationship with alcohol. No judgment here.
But this difference in how a Saturday night should be spent changed our relationship.
I eventually figured out that the fabric that had held us for that long was alcohol. Since I was no longer holding my end. This naturally led to our disengagement.
When I began to prioritize getting up early in the morning instead of going home when it was morning. We simply started to talk less frequently.
2. Others Start to Find You Annoying
My “party guy” identity was careless. I didn’t comment on the flaws of others because I was quite flawed myself.
Plus, I wasn’t able to draw such conclusions because I was constantly in a state of being either partially drunk or partially hungover.
However, when I adopted the self-discipline lifestyle. And when I started to take care of myself, I also began to see how flawed others around me were.
It’s like a bunch of foggy clouds were lifted – allowing me to finally see my defective actions, what others were doing, and the world in general.
I am not saying that I am now faultless – I am most definitely not. I am saying that I am able to spot why people around me are struggling.
What I also learned – the hard way. Is that people don’t want their issues highlighted.
They don’t want to hear:
“No, it’s not your boss’s fault that he’s not paying you enough money. It’s your fault for tolerating this low salary for years. Smoking, drinking, and complaining won’t fix your situation. You need to get together and either find another job or get your ass on a chair, start learning, and switch careers.”
Absolutely not. People want you to agree with them, so they can feel better at the current moment.
And while I no longer try to give advice to other people. I can’t help myself when it comes to those closest to me – my wife, son, and best friends.
I believe you can guess what happens when I try to provide a gentle critique – it backfires. I am labeled as indifferent, bad, and emotionless.
3. Increased Pressure and Loneliness
Striving to live a life of rules and routines others find strange is hard. Not only physically, but emotionally. You feel a dose of pressure to do everything flawlessly. Once deviations from the original path occur – as they always do – you start to freak out.
However, this is not the worst part.
The hard thing for me is, again, related to other people.
For example, I have a rule that says: “No sugar after 6 p.m.” Once the clock hits this hour, I no longer eat cakes, donuts, waffles, and other calorie-rich foods. Yet, when I am out with a company, and when I say no to a dessert, they will try to question my choice. They will start to persuade me to fall prey to the temptation.
Suddenly, not only are you leading a personal inner battle to resist the dessert. But you are also grappling with an external opponent – defending your choice.
That’s only part of the problem…
Since the activities society considers appropriate all involve a degree of degeneration – drinking, partying, sitting idle in front of the TV, social media scrolling, video games, dining, etc. It’s hard to find support and company for doing activities that lead to progress – working out, running, hiking, saving, investing, fasting, reading, etc.
I mean, 99% of the people I know are a call away from going to a bar. Sadly, I don’t know plenty of people who love reading and, at the same time, are interested in healthy living.
All of this kind of repeats the first point, but here things are a bit different.
You are pressured from two fronts.
First, there is the pressure you put on yourself to execute your pre-set regime. Secondly, there is another wave of pressure coming from the outside. This tension is created because your lifestyle is now miles away from what is considered “appropriate”. Others talk about famous people on social media, but you want to talk about notable mental models from books.
How Do We Typically Try To Solve The Self-discipline Problems?
As I sobered up and started publishing book summaries and writing about self-discipline, critical thinking, and more. I felt embarrassed to discuss my writings and doings with the people closest to me.
I feared that others would judge me for my publications and my new lifestyle. Find me inadequate to write about such serious topics. After all, only a few years ago, my life was the complete opposite of serious.
Instead of firmly declaring that I was no longer interested in alcohol or parties. I created a version of myself to better cope with others. I acted as if I were the same person – a party monster. However, this was just a facade. A mask I put on when I was out to prevent friction in my relationships.
When I look back, I feel ashamed. Ashamed of myself for not showing my new side – my true side – sooner.
I’ve put a lot of effort into projecting a false image rather than simply living as I was.
All of this made things far worse. I was putting a lot of energy into powering up the false front. Not only did I have little left for anything else, but I started to feel hatred – both toward myself and toward others.
I wanted to communicate my new desires with others. But I had lived in a lie for so long that I didn’t know how they’d respond.
Until, at a certain point, I stopped caring.
Handling The Self-Discipline Problems
Looking back, I understand why I did it. Why I was putting on a false front.
Like any other human being, I want to feel support from others – feel socially accepted and emotionally safe.
I was afraid of communicating my new lifestyle because I feared social rejection and isolation. I was afraid of these things because back then, I wasn’t a fully functional adult. I wasn’t truly independent. My personality was tightly related to my friends and to what others thought and said about me.
But as I progressed, I no longer needed – nor craved – social approval. I individuated.
This means that I kind of no longer need to prove myself to others.
My self-esteem is no longer powered by the comments of others. I don’t need to spend a bag of money on goods, please everyone, or do what everyone around me is doing to feel accepted – comfortable in my own skin. I began focusing on my own desires and my own wants.
I know, it sounds depressing and probably sad.
And it is sad.
Partly because you are often misunderstood.
People give you odd looks when you tell them that you are not on social media, you don’t have a Netflix account, and the only color of your clothes is black.
But let’s get back to the question here…
How to handle the self-discipline problem of being perceived as emotionless and uninteresting.
You can’t control what others will say about you.
You simply stop giving a damn.
You no longer adjust yourself to fit the situation. You stay true to yourself and let others decide whether they’ll like you or not.
Naturally, if you relate even a tiny bit to what I’ve said above. You will probably recognize that stop giving a damn is a good advice. However, you probably don’t know how to do it.
- You want the comments.
- You want the likes.
- You want others to talk about you – be the center of attention.
Since to stop caring will make you less likable. You don’t want to let go of this false front.
An interesting angle to look at here is this… Why?
Why do you desperately need acceptance?
Because your internal support system is missing.
To be whole and confident from the outside, you need to be whole and confident from the inside, too.
The less in line you feel with your values and wants. The less comfortable you will feel to confront the social norms.
Plainly, to tackle the problems that emerge from being a self-disciplined person who others find odd – strange even. You should first start by clearly defining your core values and your long-term goals.
“How?” You are asking?
There are many ways for you to do it.
Here are a few starting points:
- Sit down with a notebook and simply start writing – don’t stop until you have a good idea about what you want.
- Do a core values exercise.
- Do a beliefs audit.
Whatever you choose to do, the goal should remain the same: Pause and think about what you want to want. The more you ponder on this question, the more you should stray away from the unhealthy aims defined for you by others and finally set your own agenda.
Some Closing Thoughts
From the outside, I know that my life probably appears boring and dull.
I have nothing extraordinary to show because my day-to-day existence is a thread of ordinary moments.
Not that happiness is a permanent resident on my shoulder. But I no longer seek happiness by impulsively buying stuff online and later presenting them to the public – hoping that these will win me a place on the podium of fame.
I’ve been a victim of the consumerism mentality for too long – thinking that things will forever fix my mood – to know that this never happens.
So, to stop feeling guilty about your probably bland existence, start with this:
Instead of tailoring yourself to others. You adjust yourself to… you.
Note that it’s not going to be easy. You will often feel rejected, misunderstood, and probably receive the label of being selfish – among other things. But as you keep going in the direction you want – not the direction others are telling you to steer towards – you will start to emerge both different and stronger.
“Doing boring things without getting bored is a competitive advantage.” Shane Parrish
If you found this post useful, I have an online course where I unpack the full range of things one should do to instill self-discipline. You can find more about it, here: Beyond Discipline Course.
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Join Going Further: A 13-day email series on how to keep progressing in a world tirelessly pushing toward regression. Great for people who feel stuck in the endless loop of not doing.
- What alcohol does to your body, Brain and Health. Huberman Lab. Available at: https://www.hubermanlab.com/episode/what-alcohol-does-to-your-body-brain-health