Discipline is the MOST IMPORTANT factor in the FIRE ideology.
It is not simply a matter of income or frugality. One without the other will not lead to the promise land. Plenty of times we have seen the high income earner go down in flames because they lack the ability to control their impulse spending or at least stick to a budget.
While all the best frugal tips still can’t make money appear, without improved income you are just good at being poor.
Discipline is the common thread that unites these halves and forges them into true wealth accumulation.
The discipline to sniff out the money in the first place. To earn it. To constantly try to improve both the quantity and variety of its sources. The discipline to live below your means. Discipline to invest wisely and constantly stay on top of the Merry-go-Round of income and expenditures.
But where does this discipline come from? Are we born with it?
My wife has never left her car keys in the same place twice EVER. This phenomenon is a approaching a mathematical paradox. My keys are in the ignition, or my right hand pocket, or on the kitchen island next to my wallet. That’s all. One of 3 places since time began. Why are we so different?
training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character.
I have been to boot camp, I actually enjoyed it. I suspect I knew this even as a child. Are we drawn to discipline because it was lacking in our childhood? Do we rebel against discipline because our household was too strict? Can you change throughout your life?
I suspect the answer is clearly yes, it’s the mechanism that’s fuzzier.
Personally I have practiced little exercises my entire life that I believed help me to build up my own personal discipline. I would deny myself things for no real reason other than to fight to urge to gratify every little whim and desire (give my candy away). I would also play little games involving purposely repeating some task even when it was a waste of time and energy (walk the long way around the fence). The task must be completed just because that was the intent of the exercise.
I worry sometimes that this might be borderline OCD, but it was not constant and always consciously for the end result of practicing discipline.
It seems that two methods of developing discipline occur with or without your participation.
You did not really have any control over the environment you were raised in, that ship has sailed. You can be subjected to someone else’s punishment/reward system like school discipline, or the boss’s rules at work.
It is the last and 3rd method that seems to be the one with any sort of realistic choice component, putting yourself through the paces of your own devised system for developing discipline.
Whether or not you do this consciously is not the point.
Our brains crave structure.
Human nature wants to have the parameters of acceptable behavior to be clearly defined.
We seek out the methodology that gets us what we want. Almost everybody who reads a blog like this has or at least understands the need for a mental discipline that will allow you to whip your financial house into order.
Short of sending our young off to the military starting at age 7(the norm in ancient Sparta), does anybody have some input on how to improve your personal stockpile of willpower, let’s hear it.
I did find this interesting article that says willpower is a finite resource and may have an effect on one’s ability to escape poverty. Read it here.