If Only I Had Enough Money (even though self-discipline has no price tag)

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“With self-discipline, most anything is possible.” Theodore Roosevelt (“And without it, not much gets done.” S. Kim Henson)

“With self-discipline, most anything is possible.”
Theodore Roosevelt
(“And without it, not much gets done.” S. Kim Henson)

“If only I had enough money, I wouldn’t need self-discipline.”

I was walking our puppy when that thought popped into my head. It blew up just as quickly. The noise seemed so real, I almost expected the couple walking by to turn around and stare.

Until that moment, I hadn’t recognized how close I was to settling for jobs (just for the money) and a lifestyle to replace self-discipline.

I had big plans for my bank account. It was going to buy our adult kids what they couldn’t have when we lived on a budget, allow us to make an offer on another home to distract us from the harder work of working towards our ambitions, and buy a good life from the shelves of Target and Eddie Bauer.

Like a friend said when we talked about her economic plight, “Friends keep saying, ‘Money’s not everything,’ but I need it to keep on my lights.”

She’s right. A million dollars would light my way around self-discipline, I was pretty sure of it.

I mean, I’m only writing stories to get a paycheck, not touch lives, right? So, why not get a real job and give up on the patience and self-discipline it takes to write a book?

We’re only eating at home and healthier until there’s extra in the budget for fast food, yes? Why not skip the time and self-discipline it takes to plan a meal and cook it?

And my husband and I are talking in the evenings about ways to deepen our marriage, but just until we buy more TV time or online time or iPhone apps, true? Why not avoid the discomfort and self-discipline it takes to get in touch with how we feel?

After years of knowing better, it took me by surprise to find myself pondering on, of all things, the thought that money, not self-discipline, would enrich my life. For maybe the first time ever, I truly took note that I can’t hire out the really important things in life like purpose, health, and healthy relationships.

Life improvement starts with self-discipline, which starts with starting.

If you’re anything like me, how many times do we have to figure this out before we get out of our checkbooks and off the couch?

A few tips for startup:

  • Get a pen and paper now. I’m doing the same since writing down our ambitions is an important first step.
  • Write down the thing in your life you want to do, but avoid. Write down what you’re willing to do today to make it happen. Also write down what you’re willing to do tomorrow.
  • Make time today to make it happen. Do this every single day except your day of rest, and preferably do it first thing in the morning, even if you’ve only got 10 minutes to spare. That’s a start and that’s self-discipline.
  • Undertake one thing at a time so you stop walking in circles. Figure out the first step to eating your frog, which may be as simple as pulling out a sketchpad and sharpening your colored pencils.
  • Do not make excuses. Stop telling everyone why you’re not eating your greens. Either eat them or don’t.

What purpose, health issue, or relationship in your life needs a dose of self-discipline?

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – Let’s spend the next 10 minutes working towards the thing we want most and avoid most. Sign up for an exercise class, write a paragraph, order the book or DVD, address an envelope, have the conversation. Whatever it is, do it now.

On the side: A funny thing happened on the way to my blog – I wrote this post a month or so ago, before I heard our church was offering Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.

One of my husband’s and my ambitions in 2005 was to be financially free in five years. We didn’t make it happen because, at the time, we didn’t care much for self-discipline. It’s 2013 and we still don’t care much for self-discipline, except Dave Ramsey says the dirty D word (discipline) is the only way to financial freedom (and any freedom, for that matter).

My “first step” was to sign up for his classes, which started two Wednesdays ago. I’d love to hear your first step.

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10 responses »

  1. Great Post Kim! It spoke to me on so many levels. Maybe I’ll have Mike (my husband) read it! 🙂 We’re terrible in the self-discipline area. I’m struggling with letting something tangible go in order to do what my heart is telling me to do. There’s a nasty voice inside of my head telling me that I’m fooling myself. My dreams are just dreams and nothing more. But there’s another voice telling me to obey so that God can throw open the storeroom doors of heaven. I’ll pray for both of us.

    • Andy, you have such a way with words and being honest. The voice you mentioned must be commuting between Wilmington and Myrtle Beach. Let’s work together to stop it. Stop it right now! Both of us!

      My husband and I are going through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and it’s already opening our hearts and minds after just three lessons. It’s not just about money, but about our behavior and hearing God’s voice.

      The cost is only $99 and once you’ve paid that amount for the kit, you can go through it online or in a group as many times as you want. It’s life-changing.

      Yes, let’s pray for each other. I’d really like that.

  2. Kim, this is a great post. I love the fact that you spell out the steps. Sometimes I have great intentions, but don’t always get started. This really helps. Thanks!

  3. Kim,
    Good points!

    The D word is almost a four-letter word for me. I suppose “order” is not in my nature. I’m much more right-brained than left-brained, much more intuitive than logical, and the negative side of it is that my bedroom, my house and my LIFE can get VERY chaotic. I tend to focus too much on my feelings. Feel inspired? I write or do whatever I’m supposed to be doing with a passion that surprises even me. Feel bored? Anyone can tell.

    When inspiration “assaults” me, I can write like a maniac and look back on what I did (or a “muse” which I identify as the Holy Spirit). When I feel plain and not that talented, I stare at the blank page in total panic and hate myself and want to call it quits.

    I decided to major in Translation instead of Literature and Creative Writing, partly because it was easier to repeat what someone had to say than to find my OWN voice. It was my own lack of self-discipline and the F word (FEAR) that stopped me pursuing my dream.

    Not too late. I’m 35 now. And for the last perhaps 10 years I’ve been learning to be more disciplined. Some areas are pretty well covered. Others… Don’t ask!

    • Carina, your comment is so comforting. Every sentence I read, I thought, “I’m not alone. That’s so me.” I related to Every. Single. Word.

      I know discipline is the answer. My wish for both of us is we practice it until it no longer seems like a four letter word … until we both recognize it’s actually loving and lucrative. 🙂 Wanted to alliterate and that sounded good for our writing careers.

      I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your comment. Thank you.

  4. I’m going to introduce my best friend, Procrastination, to your new friend, Self-discipline, and hope that the saying “opposites attract” is a truism! If not, in spite of being a very loyal person, I may have to seriously consider dumping Pro. Thanks for the motivation!

    And enjoy the DR class – it’s good stuff!

    • Shel, I got sidetracked onto your blog (which is very informative, by the way) and almost forgot to approve and comment here. Bet you’re not only impressed with my self-discipline, but also my focus. 🙂 Just remember, if you hang around here much, do as I say, not as I do.

      Thanks for your fun comment. We’re really impressed with Dave Ramsey’s course so far.

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