Chandler Moisen

Discipline vs. Systems

November 30, 2020

Say you are trying to accomplish something. Perhaps you want to learn a new language, understand sacred geometry, or build a half-pipe in your backyard.

Whatever your goal, you only have two approaches to work through the ups and downs of any arduous task. You either:

  1. Rely on your discipline
  2. Enact, and rely upon, systems

Naturally, these two approaches are not mutually exclusive. You will likely drawn upon your discipline and the systems you have created to see yourself through to your goal. This said, the fewer systems you put in place, the more you must rely on your discipline and vice versa: the more systems you erect, the less you need your discipline. This is because discipline is finicky - sometimes you have it…other times not so much. This lack of consistency obviously jeopardizes the velocity at which you accomplish your goal as well as the quality of your overall work.

An example of the systems-over-discipline approach would be the application of a “program” to one’s exercise regimen. Sure, you can approach a weight-lifting routine with the understanding that “I will lift four days this week”, but you are more likely to stick to the routine if you set a system of lifting on very specific days and performing very specific exercises on those days.

Of course, you do need the discipline required to work the system to begin with, hence discipline and systems not being mutually exclusive.

Other examples of the systems-over-discipline approach:

  • Social accountability
  • Batching of work
  • Time-boxing

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