My friend Sue said, “I will never have more discipline than I have right now.”
She’s right. All I have to do is look at the retirement community where my mother lives to know that I have more discipline now than I will have when I’m ready to move to such a place.
And yet… somehow I look at the future and promise myself that I will do so and so at such and such a time. But the reality is that now is the time. In the future, I will not have the discipline.
This conversation came up when we were talking about making good habits. Now is the time to make good habits so that they are rote when we’re older and have less discipline.
There was a time when I smoked cigarettes. One day I saw an old woman–she looked like she was in her eighties, perhaps she was only a smoker in her sixties–sitting on a bench with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth. I can see her to this day, gray and tragic. I thought: “That will be me someday if I don’t quit smoking.” The thought was so horrendous that I quit within days. Why did it take me days? Because I had to go through a bargaining session with myself. Clearly, I had to quit between that moment and the moment I looked like that woman. When would that be? When, exactly, would I quit smoking?
It took a few days to come to the conclusion that it would only get harder as I got older. The bottom line became: If not now, when?
I set down my cigarettes and never picked them up again.
I will never have more discipline than I have right now.
There are many things I hope to accomplish (there’s that whole thing with yearning again), and they all require some aspect of discipline. Clearly, after procrastinating all these years, I can afford another week of bargaining with myself before lowering the hammer. But then I need to take action. I need to either get on with it, or give up on it.
Some dreams I’m sure I will give up.
But some dreams I don’t want to give up. So I better get on with it. Identify the goal, make a plan, and assign the discipline.
Life is short.