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Discipline Can Be Habit Forming


"Do every day or two something for no other reason than that you would rather not do it, so that when the hour of dire need draws nigh, it may find you not unnerved and untrained to stand the test." — William James, Habit

Good and bad habits are tiny daily choices that accumulate. Each choice is a small wire that is woven together with hundreds of other little choices. Eventually these wires form a strong cable. Like a child that grows a tiny amount each day, our tiny choices accumulate without much notice. By the time we realize we have either a good or a bad habit, the habit has us.

Most of our daily choices are made automatically without even thinking about them. To change our habits, we first need to be aware of them. Then we need to work backward from the habit to the daily practices that form it. To change the habit, we need to change those practices.

Procrastination is a good example. Putting things off until tomorrow is a popular labor saving device. However, as actor and comedian, W.C. Fields, once said, "there comes a time that you must take the bull by the tail and face the situation." Failing to face tough situations usually makes them worse. But it's a habit. The more often we procrastinate, the more natural it is to do the next time. The opposite is also true. If we practice doing those things that we most want to delay first, we find that it wasn't so bad after all. And everything else that follows is all that much easier.

Our discipline and habits spring from our passion and commitment. I find that when I have the least amount of self-discipline and have the greatest trouble forming a success habit, it's often because my heart isn't in it. So to motivate myself, I need to find ways to increase my passion.

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