Are You Suffering From Discipline Burnout?
Updated: Jan 20, 2018
It's said that discipline is like a muscle. You can strengthen your discipline over time by practicing good habits, but discipline is also like a muscle in the sense that you can only use it a limited amount of times through the course of a day before it becomes weak and fatigued. Once your discipline muscle is exhausted, poor decisions can quickly snowball.
If you get to work and a co-worker tells you they brought in a box of donuts, it might be easy enough to tell her, "No thanks, I just had oatmeal for breakfast." You'll probably be strong enough to turn down a slice of your
boss' birthday cake after lunch. At about three o'clock when your buddy says an extra candy bar fell out of the vending machine and asks you if you want it, you'll still be able to say, "Leave me alone already!" But by the end of the day, if you're left to decide, you'll probably end up having pizza and ice cream for dinner. You wouldn't even stand a chance.
Discipline. It seems to always fail us when we need it the most. One of the best ways to improve your discipline is to stop depending on it so much. This is how the Nutrisystem diet program works. They send you pre-packaged meals and snacks in proportions designed for you to lose weight. When on the Nutrisystem plan, you only eat the food they send you plus some fruits or vegetables. This system saves you from repeatedly relying on your discipline to make healthy eating choices by aut
omating your meal plan.
Diet and money are two areas where most people depend too much on their discipline and end up struggling. In David Bach's book The Automatic Millionaire, Expanded and Updated: A Powerful One-Step Plan to Live and Finish Rich📷, he suggests automating as much of your finances as possible. By automating your finances, you create your own personal finance "Nutrisystem" plan and set yourself on course for automatic financial independence.
Here are some categories David suggests automating:
1. Paying Yourself First
You probably spend more hours of your week at work than anywhere else. Yet for all those hours you work, how much of your paycheck do you use to pay yourself vs. paying everyone else? If you do nothing else with your finances, at the least, automate a direct deposit into a retirement account for yourself.
2. Building up an Emergency Savings
I've talked about the value of emergency savings before. Set up a direct deposit from each paycheck so that you build up your emergency savings without ever having to think about it.
3. Paying off debt
Set up payments for credit cards, personal loans, and your mortgage to be automatically deducted from your checking account. Try your best to set this up for more than just the minimum payments to help you pay down the debt even faster.
4. Accomplishing Your Goals
This is so important. You need to set aside money to accomplish the things you really want. Set up an automatic deposit into a savings account for a dream vacation, a car, or a new house. If you don't set aside money to do the things you want to do, you can start to get mired down in life and try to make up for it with poor short term decisions.
Use Free Online Banking to Establish Multiple Savings Accounts
I've used Capital One 360 Online Banking for my savings accounts for almost a decade. Why it works so well for savers is that you can quickly and easily open multiple savings accounts and set up automatic savings plans. They even have an easy option to set savings goals and track your progress. I currently have 15 savings accounts with them ranging from Christmas savings, to car repairs, to vacation savings. You can easily view all of your account balances on a single page and instantly transfer from one account to another.
By setting yourself up on the automatic plan, you minimize the amount of financial discipline you need to depend on. If something is a priority to you financially, automate it. Once your automatic payments and transfers have all been made, it almost doesn't even matter what you do with the rest of your money. Since you won't be burning out your discipline muscle on your finances, you'll probably be able to count on it more in other matters, like when a bacon cheeseburger is calling your name.