Discipline equals freedom
Leadership expert and former US Navy SEAL Jocko Willink discusses in his writing and podcast several principles, values and habits which make for a more purposeful and impactful life. One of these is discipline equals freedom.
At first glance it might be easy to right this off as “too militaristic” and associate it with a hierarchical, command and control type of mentality. A type of tactic leaders use to tell people what to do, with sanctions being applied to those who are not appropriately disciplined.
The way Jocko uses it – and the application I’m about to suggest relating to personal finance – is more nuanced, subversive, and powerful. The starting point is that discipline is designed and applied at the level of the individual. So, if the intention is to get in shape, then you commit to early bed, early rise and hitting the gym. Once you have committed to this way of living then you are free from the prevarication and cognitive dissonance associated with constantly making choices.
Of course, not everyone has the mindset of retired military leaders, but the underlying principle is strong and has many applications. In the world of personal finance this principle can be applied as follows:
- A certain percentage of take home pay can be automatically committed to Investments. Say this amount is 20% and take home pay is £2,500 then £500 per month glides out of the bank account and into equity investments every month.
- When take home pay increases, the automated payment will need manual adjustment upwards – but the principle is automatic.
- A limit is put on discretionary spending, this might be £200 per month. Take this out in cash or open a separate account (with no overdraft facility). You are free to spend up to this amount, but not above it.
- With items costing over a certain amount (set your limit) commit to waiting 24 hours before spending. This cooling off period helps impulse control.
- Make a commitment not to buy on credit; save and then make a purchase.
Within the economic sphere we are constantly tempted by instant gratification – and there are plenty of finance opportunities available to those who don’t have money immediately available. But by being disciplined you can find, if not complete financial freedom, at least more peace of mind.
So next time you are tempted by some marketing offer flex your financial discipline muscle, invest the money instead and build your future financial freedom.