11.18.2013

why discipline is freedom (or why INFJs need budgets)

I don't know why, but I love personality assessments. I think they help me gain insight into why I am the way I am. I have never taken the official Myers -Briggs Type Indicator, but I have taken plenty of shortened versions online. Every single time I have come up with the same result: INFJ. One of the traits of INFJs is a lack of interest in details and minutia. I strongly identify with that - and if you don't believe me ask my mother about my wedding-planning involvement. (Hint: little to none). 

I think that might be why the beach life calls to me. I always imagine it as a simple life where I rarely have to wear shoes and can enjoy the simple pleasures. 

Through trial and error, however, I have discovered a profound truth of life: details matter. 

This is unfortunate for me. 

But here's the good news. If you pay attention to the details, and if you remain disciplined, it leads to a life of freedom. When I follow the budget and balance the checkbook, I feel free to spend the money I have allotted for food or clothes. If I don't follow the budget, I feel guilty about every extra dollar I spend on non-necessities. 

When I set goals for each day - the top 5 most important things I want to do that day - I feel free to relax over a cup of coffee in the morning. When the things I want to accomplish remain in a jumbled cloud in my mind, I tend to feel tense throughout the day, like I am forgetting something. 

The same logic applies to working out, eating healthy meals, and reading the Bible. 

By paying attention to a few important details up front, my life feels as laid back and carefree as any beach vacation later on. 

Being disciplined can seem boring and regimented to many people. I sometimes worry that if I pay attention to details and stay disciplined, then how can I be spontaneous and laid back? The way I have reconciled it in my mind is that discipline does not mean rigidity. In fact, being disciplined allows me to splurge, cheat, and be spontaneous. If I have faithfully kept to a budget in order to pay down student loans, then I have the financial freedom to travel if the urge strikes. If I have faithfully eaten clean, healthy meals, then a rare pizza night or ice cream sundae is no big deal. 

(by the way, whenever I need a reminder to stick to my goals, I read or listen to a little bit of Zig Ziglar - the guy is a genius on this very topic)

Although some days it goes against every fiber of my being, I strive to remain disciplined only because I crave freedom from details so very much. 

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