3 min read

A Confession and a Conversation on Balance & Discipline

A Confession and a Conversation on Balance & Discipline
Photo by Aziz Acharki / Unsplash

I have a confession to make - I've failed to meet my goals.

Today, I ventured to the gym after an almost two-month hiatus, even though I had initially promised myself I'd be going three times a week. My jiu-jitsu training has suffered an equally long break. Moreover, I've danced salsa far less often, something I've been consistently practicing for the last five years (barring pandemic disruptions, of course).

However, the truth is, I haven't been idling away or being unproductive. Quite the contrary, in fact. I've been immersing myself in reading numerous books, studying business, and producing free content for all of you.

This recent experience has led me to ponder over the meaning of a balanced life. I'm certainly keen on achieving professional success, but equally committed to maintaining my health and investing quality time in my relationships. But, what does a balanced life look like over the course of a day, a month, a year?

It's so easy to conflate a balanced life with an unfocused one. There's this prevailing sentiment that if we haven't addressed all aspects of life within a day—health, wealth, relationships, spirituality, hobbies, and so on—that we haven't had a fulfilling day. However, could this be a misguided notion based on how we interpret our emotions?

I recall Naval Ravikant once said, "inspiration is perishable." When you feel inspired to create something, the optimal course of action is to create that very thing while the inspiration lasts, instead of forcing yourself to do something that doesn't naturally appeal to you in the moment.

In my case, my obsession with studying business, marketing, and creating content came from the belief that this was the most effective use of my spare time, my highest leverage opportunity. But was it the right choice to make at the expense of my health (by not attending the gym or BJJ)? To be fair, I've been nursing a wrist injury throughout this period.

The counter-argument here concerns self-discipline. This school of thought suggests: if you set a goal, then just do it, even if you don't feel like it. I understand where this perspective comes from. We don't want to let our actions be governed entirely by our feelings because anything worthwhile often involves facing discomfort. If we're solely led by our emotions, we might never embrace the discomfort of a workout or of setting boundaries, for example.

Honestly, I'm unsure about the right approach - for me, or in general. I'm still figuring it out.

What I do know, though, is that momentum matters a lot. The truth is, it's easier to do something—go to the gym, assert oneself, or speak publicly without fear—if you've already been doing it.

I want to conclude with an idea I picked up from Aziz Gazipura. In his book "On My Own Side," he champions a philosophy of "relaxed discipline." The idea is to find a rhythm of discipline driven by self-compassion, not self-hate.

Following this logic, whenever you feel like you're not meeting your goals, chances are, a part of you is engaging in self-hate. A significant part of my journey will be understanding what this part of me needs and when it needs it.

What are your thoughts on this? How do you approach discipline and balance? Do you push yourself too hard? Do you try to juggle many tasks in a day, or do you prefer to focus on one or two areas for months on end, like I do? Is self-hate part of your equation? Do you utilize any planning or productivity tools? I'm genuinely curious, so please hit reply and let me know!