Commit Once: A Primer on Self-Discipline

Let me put this plain and simple. We all need discipline. 

Everyone could use more of it. It is the single most important element of success in any endeavor.


Yet seldom can one find a more misunderstood term in the English language.

From an early age we are subject to “discipline”. For me it ranged from cleaning my room, to taking out the trash, to doing push-ups with my gym teacher bearing down on me. I used to scoff at the word as a child, and then somewhere along the lines forgot about it completely. The reason I forgot about discipline was simple: I went to college.

Suddenly there were no longer any rules. My parents still loved me, but they could only stand by while I ate cheap greasy diner food day after day, drank like a hog, and kept a sty for a room. My gym teacher, a full time weightlifter and trainer, would have been appalled that I called cramming for exams and fighting hangovers forms of “exercise”. I didn’t care about them.

Then one day I realized that I didn’t care about myself either.

It took a good three years to realize this, but I’m glad I did.

When I did, I had a new perspective on the idea of discipline. I saw that instead of picking up where my parents and teachers had left off, I had found discipline for the FIRST time. Let me explain.

Discipline isn’t something anyone else can impose upon you. It is something that you offer to yourself.

It is a gift. Like so many ironies in nature, what may seem like a tool for bondage and restriction is actually an instrument of liberation. When you employ discipline, you are free. You can finally surge past the gate of dreaming, and start on the road of achieving. Instead of being muddled in the mires of inconsistency, you can establish a clear life and identity. Free time opens up like a waterfall, but you will be able to channel every drop into sculpting your vision.

“But what about passion?”

Let me tell you something. Passion, despite all its beauty, is not nearly as vital as discipline.

Unsuccessful people have all the passion in the world. Failed artists, failed poets, failed anything’s are failures not because they lack passion, but because they do not employ self-discipline. Sure, passion will get you out of bed, and will get you started on that painting or novel that you’ve swore to create. Passion is great at getting you started- No doubt about that. But mark my words. That particular flavor of passion WILL FADE overtime. With only a faint memory of past euphoria, you will wonder why and how you fell out of love with your dream. You will want to procrastinate, and you will want to distract yourself. Worst of all, you will want to give up altogether and go in another direction. After all, nothing gets dopamine flowing more than the tantalizing prospect of novelty. With your passion gone, and your motivation low, where will you go then?

To answer this, I offer you a quote from a true self-made man.

Brain Tracy, a millionaire and motivational speaker, once said:

“Successful people are those who do WHAT they should do WHEN they should do it, regardless of if they FEEL like it or NOT. Successful people are simply those with successful habits.”

Simply put: You do and do and do, and you do not stop. You do what you can, when you can, and you do it consistently. You let the temptations and distractions come. But you do NOT stop doing what it is needed of you in the moment. It takes practice, but the fact of practicing discipline IS discipline. It is a positive feedback loop that appreciates in strength over time. Justify your actions to yourself. No one else is needed.

Commit once, and never look back.

The strange thing is, somewhere along the way the pleasure WILL return. Only this time, it will be ten times as strong as before. There you will realize that it is because YOU have grown ten times as strong as you were before.

In that light, here is my present reality:

I no longer dread the push-ups- I begin my day with them. I workout four times a week. Sun. Rain. Busy. Exams. Tired. Doesn’t stop me.

I no longer put off cleaning my room- I clear my mind and DO.

I do not worry about my diet- I eat healthy and in fact have no desire for sweets and deserts. They annoy me.

I do not sweat the hard work- I embrace my sweat (as nasty as that sounds, I can confidently say that a good many athletes/bodybuilders share the same fetish).

I do not fret about the future- I make a plan of action and follow through. Period.

These are my habits, and I am nowhere near finished improving myself.

Your habits will be different. I don’t care. Remember that the theme of this blog is the journey, and not the reward. The reward is living the life you want to live and loving your work.

So go and have some discipline, and achieve.

Get busy creating.

Get busy winning.

Until next time.

Your disciplined friend,



  1. But…how do you do it? How do you commit and actually stick to it?

    When the all-powerful disciplinarian in your head goes away…when you finally realize that neither God or Parents are going to “punish” you for not doing what you’re supposed to, for not sticking to your commitments…how do you *make* yourself do what you want?

    I make commitments all the time…the “me” who decides to commit is very determined. But the later “me”, the “me” who must get up and exercise at 6:00 AM, the “me” who must choose to eat salad instead of pasta when I’m hungry…often just won’t do it. It just doesn’t seem to care about long-term consequences at all.

    So how do you discipline yourself? How do you force your id to “go along with the program?” How do you get your superego to stay in the driver’s seat EVERY time the temptation of self-indulgent behavior comes up?

    For years people have told me to “just do it.” You “just make yourself.” “Just commit.” But I have repeatedly failed at that.

    They also say, “If you can’t do it, it means you just don’t care enough.” I acknowledge that may be true…at least, a PART of me doesn’t care enough. And I have no idea how to MAKE it care enough.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Actually what you are asking is reasonable. I am in the process of writing an article about procrastination, which I think is very much relevant to what you are experiencing.

      EDIT: Here is the article: 5 Ways to Conquer Procrastination

      Briefly, things I can suggest (but ultimately you have to interpret in the context of your own life) are:

      1. Set realistic, even small goals to start. Don’t need to get up at 6:00 everyday. Go for a run every now and then, or do some p90x when you have free time. You don’t need to, and in fact cannot climb the mountain in one step.
      2. Have a short to do list everyday, i.e 3 things.
      3. Do the top thing on your list first thing in the day. Set aside 1 hour or 2. Do it, and then it is done.
      4. Learn to move beyond the “I want it now” attitude.
      5. Move beyond self blame, and beyond comparison. Getting off of social media is a good start.

      Hope this helps.


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