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The Consistent Application of Discipline

| April 02, 2018
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As I sit in an airplane at 34,000 feet, I finally have some time to evaluate the progress of my goals for the first part of 2018. I’m on my way to see my business coach for the 2nd out of 4 in-person sessions during the year. The Internet connection is slow, the flight is bumpy, and I’m eagerly watching for the seat belt sign to go off so I can get up and stretch my legs on this rather lengthy trip out West. I just got back from a week of skiing in Montana, so my legs are tired and I feel energized to get working again. But, is there any merit to how I feel about what I’ve accomplished this year so far?

I have the usual goals that any slightly overweight, nearing middle-aged professional might have in this country:

  1. lose 25 pounds
  2. be a better father and husband, and
  3. have a better plan for finance and business in 2018

While I assume everyone has New Year’s resolutions – “New Year, New Me” - and goals they want to see happen, the fact remains that most of those goals go unattained. Why is that - Is it because my goals were too big? Am I too lazy? Are my goals too vague?

Simply put, goals go unattained - whether in your personal or financial life -  because of the lack of consistently applying three things: action, discipline, and patience.

Action

While my goals sound great and auspicious, they lack an attack plan. Yes, I want to lose 25 pounds, but what is the first thing I need to do? I mean, the very first thing. Some would say it is to make up your mind to take action. While that’s great, for me, my very first step was to set my alarm for an hour earlier than I was used to. I repeated the next day. Then I did it again. And then again. And then again, until it became a normal part of my life. Next, I stopped drinking sodas for one day. Then I stopped drinking sodas the next day and the next day after that until now it’s been nearly two years since I last drank a soda. I have taken action each day and then taken action the next day. I’m not focusing on getting up next week, I’m only focused on waking up today, not drinking sodas today, and doing it again (Of course there are other actions I’ve taken in regards to exercise and diet. But for brevity, waking up and not drinking sodas were two huge steps for me).

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this phrase from people I know: “Bryant, we want to meet, we just don’t have any money. As soon as we get things in order, I’ll call you.” My job is very simple: I help people take action with regards to their finances. My job is to help you “get things in order,” not to wait until you do it yourself. If you could do it yourself, you wouldn’t need my leadership. The Internet is filled with financial education. But the Internet lacks action. And action is the first, most important step in achieving any goal, especially in finances.

Discipline and Patience

I have heard my business coach say before, “In order to achieve discipline and patience, it requires you to be disciplined and patient.” That reminds me so much of my relationship with my family - how I want to be a better father to my children and a better husband to Stacy. If I am to be the father and husband I desire to be, I must exhibit discipline and patience, both in my admonishment of their behavior and my behavior towards them. In other words, if I want my children to be well behaved, I cannot simply correct their behavior once and expect them to forever remember my advice. As you can probably relate, we have a constant struggle with our son on how much technology he should or should not be allowed to enjoy. So, I have to be consistent in my discipline of time limits and usage. I have to be disciplined and not give in to his desires – a very hard task to overcome since we love him so. And, I have to be patient when he doesn’t remember the guidelines to which we’ve agreed.

But, consistently applying discipline and patience in his life will make him a better son, student, future husband and leader as well. And that same consistent application of discipline and patience in my own life will produce the results I desire in my relationship with wife, my colleagues, and my clients. And the same discipline and patience, financially, will produce the results my clients desire for their own lives. If you only save sporadically and don’t employ discipline to saving the right amount of money, you will find unfavorable results in the end. And if you lack the patience to see the process through, you will become discouraged at the first sign of market turmoil and unpredictability. For it is patience that allows a disciplined saver to see the fruits of his labor. And it is discipline that allows the saver to be patient.

It is the consistent application of action, discipline, and patience that allows my pilot to smoothly land the airplane shortly. If he ignored the fact we were one degree off of our course, or was inattentive to the warning signs on his radar, or lacked patience for the plane’s autopilot to correct itself, we wouldn’t be landing in the same airport as we originally set out.

It is the same consistent application of action, discipline, and patience that allows you to succeed financially.

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