Why Self-Discipline = Freedom

Written by Lifebook Wisdom Curator, Jessi Kohlhagen

I wear a lot of hats in my life (and, if you’re a fellow human of the 21st century, it’s safe to assume you do too!).

I’m a wife, mother, careerwoman, homeschool teacher, yogi, maid, chef, chauffer… and underneath it all, I’m a human being who wants to create the best possible life for myself, and the people I love most.

If I had to pinpoint the single most important characteristic I employ to be the very best woman I can be in every area of my life, it would undoubtedly be self-discipline.

Self-discipline is the key to freedom and fulfillment everywhere in my life.

It seems counter-intuitive, I know. Self-discipline implies restraint, control, and limitation — where freedom embodies flexibility, allowance, and even indulgence.

But in my own experience, I’ve found that these two traits are inseparable… You can’t truly experience the power (and privilege) of freedom without first activating self-discipline.

You can’t have a vibrant, healthy body without applying willpower toward what you eat and how often (and well) you move.

You can’t experience the enjoyment of having a peaceful, beautiful home without spending some amount of time organizing and caring for it every single day.

You can’t be a rock star in your career without getting your hands dirty and putting in the necessary hours to get the job done well.

And we all know you can’t drink the sweet, healing nectar of a blossoming love relationship without daily cultivation and devotion to its growth.

Self-discipline is the giver, not the taker, of freedom.

By applying self-discipline I get to show up as the woman I really want to be in every area of my life, consistently.

With uncompromising self-discipline I get to accomplish light-years more than usual, and even the days that end with unfinished business feel rich with a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that I simply can’t achieve any other way.

Of course, self-discipline is a lifelong practice that I’m trying to strengthen every day. I have my great days, and I have my not-so-good days, but the key is to flex these muscles as much as possible, so they become more second nature to me.

So here are some of the specific self-discipline habits I’m strengthening in my own life to create a happier, healthier, more harmonized experience for my entire family (and an all-around extraordinary quality of life):

  • I put myself first. Wake up at least one hour before my babies so I can move, sweat, breathe, shower, and make myself beautiful. My own essential needs are fulfilled for the rest of the day, and I’m free of the stress and guilt that go along with not knowing if I’ll get to fit them in.
  • I put myself last. Ultimately, I put myself first for a reason… so I have the inner reserves to put myself last for the rest of the day. This manifests itself in simple but very important ways…
    • Patiently doing the things that are required of me, regardless of whether I feel like it (dirty dishes, email replies, and answering my toddler’s same question 15 different times… I’m looking at you).
    • Responding to my husband with kindness even when I may be frustrated out of my mind.
    • Responding to my children with loving patience, even when my 4-year old is driving me up the wall.
    • Skipping a very enticing afternoon siesta to get my best work done while I have a solid block of childfree time.
  • I make the hard, good decisions. I choose salads over sandwiches, deep breaths instead of angry words, saving instead of spending, books over TV, creativity over consumption, playing with my kids instead of resting, tea instead of wine.
  • I remember that I’m the heartbeat of my home. This boils down to being conscious of the power I hold as the queen of my kingdom, and wielding that power wisely. The emotional atmosphere of our home hinges greatly on the energy I (as wife and mother – or you, in whatever role you play) bring to it. Our family’s happiness and harmony depends on our own. And that is a choice we must make every single day… but especially in the challenging moments.
  • I prepare the night before. I’ve always been a list-lover, but never have lists been as important in my life than they are now. The one that works best for me is a simple weekly checklist. I have one weekly sheet with a block for each day, and just keep my checklist organized by day. This way I can plan my entire week in advance, and add tasks as I go, based on my true availability. At the end of each workday I plan my entire next day (sometimes if it’s a super busy day I’ll even time-block things to make sure I’m being realistic with my workload). I go to sleep with the glorious freedom of an empty mind.
  • I sleep in a clean nest. I never, ever go to sleep with a messy house. Every single night I do a quick walk-through and put everything in its place, making it a beautiful, clean space to wake up to. (This is especially important because we homeschool, and our environment determines much of the energy we share throughout the day.)

Now I’d love to hear…

What are some of your most treasured self-discipline habits, and how do they contribute to greater freedom and fulfillment in your quality of life?

As always, thanks for reading and sharing the journey!



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