There is Freedom in Discipline

I am, by nature a little chaotic and well, rather disorganised. At work I used to think I did better this way, achieving more when under pressure. ‘I thrive in an environment of pressure…’ my CV would espouse.  But realistically, I crammed in everything at the last moment. I may have completed the most pressing task without fuss, yet I would be in a state of flux, dropping the ball on everything else around me – including my personal life.

With today’s technological filled distractions, it is more important than ever to retain focus – focus retention will be the next big thing in the corporate environment – watch this space! 

I still tend to start a task, get excited by another, move on, find another, move on and on and on, often never getting back to the first. (Don’t ask how many degrees and courses I’ve begun…or how many tabs I have open right at the moment).  I, like many of us, have lost the ability to have a lengthy commitment to my attention span.

With so many balls in the air to juggle – including the parenting ball –  it’s only a matter of time before one drops.

The below is an extract of a speech given by Bryan Dyson, the former CEO from Coca-Cola. It is the closing of a much bigger, profound speech, and the following says it all.

“… Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling five balls in the air. You name them – work, family, health, friends and spirit, and you’re keeping all of these in the air.

You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back.

But the other four balls – family, health, friends and spirit are made of glass.

If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged, or even shattered. They will never be the same.

You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.”


The question is – how do we achieve balance?

Most of us tend to drop the health and wellbeing ball first.  We stop taking time for ourselves – yet we all know our health is our greatest asset, the most important thing we have. For if we lose it, we lose absolutely everything.

During my yoga teacher training course, we had to read the Diana Farhi book, ‘Bringing Yoga to Life’.  It was in a chapter called ‘The Freedom of Discipline’ I learned how to get closer to achieving balance.

It was the first time I recognised how having a disciplined routine created the free time to do other things. It actually liberates time. By focusing in on the moment and reining in the mental excuses, clarity and self-control can be developed.

I used to watch people around me, disciplined in their strict routine. I thought they lived a constrained existence with limited space to be genuinely free to have fun. I was the freedom fighting fairy flitting from one thing to another, never having enough free time to squeeze in anything for my own growth and wellbeing.

Yet these disciplined folk were – are – the successes –  they get things done at work and in their personal lives. They accomplish so much in the day, finish what they start, usually fit a sport or gym time in and still make it home in time for dinner.  They even have time to read or watch a set box series!  They are the guiltless.  

It is ironic, but real freedom comes from discipline. Discipline comes from self-control. Self- control allows us to focus on what matters.

It is much easier to allow our mental energy to follow the path of least resistance.  If we can’t control ourselves, we allow our circumstances to control us and even create excuses in favour of our circumstances.

We are led astray by short term satisfaction.  We hit the snooze button for 10 minutes of extra slumber, only to start a battle raging in our head. The good guy telling us to, ‘get up and exercise’; the bad guy reminding us, but how good does it feel in bed’; the good guy telling us, ‘you’ll feel amazing after you do yoga’; the bad guy telling us how, ‘sleep improves the ageing process’; the good guy yelling at us, ‘you’re not sleeping anyway’; the bad guy smugly agreeing, ‘I know, I win, too late to start anything now…’.

Yes, sadly this happens to me frequently.

Yet, the 2 mornings a week I teach yoga – there is no battle.  The alarm goes off, I pause for a moment, realise I can’t let the mental battle begin, so I get up, get dressed and head out the door.


The mental energy being used up with the battles in our heads can be rerouted and transformed on the yoga mat, by going for a run or with a burst of creativity in another activity.

By pausing to make a conscious choice, to harness and channel self-control, we can create time, the guiltless freedom to embark on other activities throughout the day with a renewed sense of focus and energy.

Achieving your aspirations can be found in your daily routine.

You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. 

An aspiration is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going. Setting a routine eases you into it.

If your intention is not to drop the ‘health’ ball, let’s work together for the next 17 weeks until Christmas, to create a new healthy habit.

Put it out there.  Create the routine. Offer yourself a reward.

Check in regularly.

Notice the little demons and their excuses, but don’t buy into them. While noticing them simply begin.

Soon you will develop “automaticity” – the notion of acting without thinking.

Keep checking in…..