Will you choose discipline or disappointment?

January 31, 2012


“We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret and disappointment.” – Jim Rohn

With our sneaky tactics and internal mind games, we all think we can somehow avoid pain, dodge doing the difficult things in life. But there is going to be pain – it’s just part of the deal. Why do we so often choose the pain of disappointment over the pain of discipline?

Discipline is doing what you know you need to do: writing 500 words, spending an hour on the treadmill, having a difficult conversation with an employee, cleaning your closet, getting your annual physical.

We avoid this “good pain” because it’s acute, intense, even excruciating in the moment. We don’t consider that it’s also usually short-lived.

When we procrastinate the things we need to do, here comes the chronic pain of disappointment, regret, worry and guilt. This “bad pain” is low-grade and therefore tolerable, but constant and hovering.

The good pain, the pain of discipline, gets relieved when you push through the task with a sense of accomplishment and feel great on the other side. The pain evaporates, replaced by feelings of well-being and self-esteem. Conversely, the bad pain, the dark cloud of disappointment, tends to get lightened by half a bottle of wine and a large cheese pizza.

OK, I know – it’s really easy to state this logically and REALLY hard to do. Maybe if we’re a little more aware of the trade-offs, we can try to make better choices more often.

In the moment, it’s much easier to not do the thing (whatever it is), not suffer it, avoid it. And you totally can. Though the chronic pain begins immediately, it still seems like a good trade in the moment. But the pain of disappointment is ever-present and building up – and it adds up to nothing.

Discipline, although painful, adds up to something great: accomplishments and legacies and well-being and self-confidence.

The Buddhists say, “Life is suffering.” We are going to suffer pain – it’s part of life. As much as possible, let’s choose the good pain of discipline that leads to greatness.

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2 Comments on “Will you choose discipline or disappointment?”

  1. Mel Says:

    Way to go Gretchen!

    That’s a great blog post!
    I sure needed to read that! You definitely helped
    me put things in perspective.

    Keep up the great work!

    Loyal follower,


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