“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” Jim Rohn

Discipline is the bridge? Hold on, that’s your “secret” to keeping my resolutions? Oh man. Thanks for suckering me in, but I’m going to respectfully decline to read any further.

WAIT! Don’t go just yet.

This word has always made me nervous too, if I am being honest. I can tend to be a bit of a perfectionist and am generally good at following through with tasks that are given to me, because of this, people may think that discipline is not something that I struggle with. But, can I be vulnerable? It definitely is… and I don’t think I’m the only one. Besides, discipline is just a by-product of the “actual secret” I want to share.

Yes, we have all read the “new years blogs” that come out just a couple weeks after the ball drops telling us to: get accountability, to change one behavior at a time, to keep track of your progress, to be realistic, and to reward yourself when you reach a goal. This is all good advice, but this is still “the what” and we need to figure out “the why behind the what.”

Do you know why you want to change? If not, you will not invest the needed discipline to achieve it (I am speaking from experience). If I have decided that I want to be a better father to my daughter or husband to my wife (the why) and that in order to do that I need to be intentionally working on being self-sacrificial (the what: i.e. not pressing snooze, making my wife lunch, initiating conversations that make me uncomfortable, speaking less so that other’s have a chance to talk, etc…) then I have greater motivation. Being a good dad and husband motivates me, and should motivate me more than the fear of being a bad dad and an unloving husband.

Do you see the difference? If I am motivated by fear, I tend to fail to exercise the discipline required to transform my “what” into a healthy habit. Instead, the opposite happens because I become consumed by that anxiety and fear and end up returning to an old bandaid (temporary solutions to a much deeper pain).

The Secret

These are Jesus’ words. They hold the real secret. Surrounded by some of His closest followers one day, He says:

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ (Luke 14:18-30).

Do you know what my biggest problem is when it comes to sticking to my goals? I always thought it was simply “a lack of discipline” but I have come to realize that it’s actually a couple of things:

1. I often fail to estimate the cost.

It’s so important to ask this question… “What will this cost me?” Will I have to give up a substance or behavior that takes away my stress? What will I do without it? How much will this cost financially? Will I need to invest some of my money in this to make the change I desire? If I continue on in my bad habit or lack of discipline, what is the cost? What are the consequences of not changing? 

2. I allow the enemy to convince me that I don’t have enough.

Ever faced a challenge or goal that seemed exciting, but daunting? Maybe you are going to be a new parent or a newlywed? Or you have a goal to stop smoking, lose 80 lbs, or commit to daily spiritual growth? Have you ever heard those dark words whispered in your ear?

You’re not good enough, you don’t have what it takes. This is the lie from all the way back in the Garden. The enemy whispered to them, “What you have isn’t enough… you need more. Eat of the tree.”

You and I have been practicing this statement for far too long, and it keeps us from reaching our goals. If I practice a thought like this for long enough, it will transform into a more core belief. Core beliefs can be challenging to change and cause us to act in accordance with them. For example: If my parent tells me “You will never amount to amount to anything”- I will either submit to that belief and act accordingly; or I will decide to challenge this negative belief and choose to believe what Christ says about me.

Phil 4:19 tells me that God will meet all my needs and that He is sufficient. If this God dwells inside of me (1 Cor 3:16), then that must mean that I DO have what it takes… that I have enough.

Allow these two truths to propel you into action! Discipline flows out from the estimation of cost and the understanding that you have what it takes. Whatever “tower” you find yourself building, you can do it if you will partner with the God who meets all needs. My challenge for you is to take Jesus’ words and put them into action so that you may experience the discipline you need to reach your goals in 2016. 

“In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty” (Proverbs 14:23)