The Paradox of Discipline

Can discipline in pursuit of a goal become a better source of joy than the goal itself?

Small disciplines repeated with consistency every day lead to great achievements gained slowly over time.” – John C. Maxwell


Big goals inspire the initial call to action, but it's the small steps we take daily that lead to lasting achievement, and ultimately great satisfaction.


My friends and coworkers have observed that I don't celebrate much after a decent race or after reaching a business milestone. It's true, and it's because I take greater pleasure in the self-discipline of daily training and preparation than I do in reaching racing or business goals.


The paradox at play here is that the virtuous cycle of self-discipline may become a greater source of pleasure than obtaining the original goal itself.


For example, expressing the self-discipline to wake up early five days per week and run for 60 minutes before the kids wake up may be become a greater source of personal satisfaction than taking a few minutes off your marathon time.


Or exerting moderation and self-control in your diet may become a greater source of satisfaction than the ordinary pleasure that comes from binge eating.


The key is to find enjoyment in the self-discipline required to reach your goals. With those two ingredients: enjoyment and self-discipline, anything is possible.


- Antonio Gonzalez

March, 2023


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