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Do You Really Need More Discipline? Or Do You Need Integrity Instead?

Ever hear quotes like this?:

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments.” -Jim Rohn

Discipline is often touted as exactly that, “the pathway” to accomplishing your goals. We’re told:

  • If you want to lose weight, you must have discipline.

  • If you want to save money, you must have discipline.

  • If you want to learn a new skill, you must have discipline.

While I believe there’s a time and place where discipline may help you achieve your goals, there is actually another approach that aligns your actions, perspectives and thoughts to your own personal core values. And that’s called integrity.

What’s the difference between discipline and integrity?

Let’s consider the Oxford Language definitions of discipline and integrity.

  • Discipline - the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.

  • Integrity - a quality of being honest, being whole and undivided.

As you read these definitions, what comes to mind?

Perhaps reviewing the meaning of these words gives you insights about why you were not able to be “disciplined enough” to stick with your savings plan or practice the piano every day.

The Impact of Disciplining Yourself

When your actions are guided by discipline, there’s an underlying sense of being right or wrong, good or bad; when you get off track there's an implicit threat of punishment or restriction until you get back on track.

When viewed from this lens, it’s clear why it’s so hard to use discipline as a motivator to stay on track to meet your goals.

As busy people with complicated lives we can easily get off track. This can feel like defeat, or like it’s easier to give up altogether rather than label yourself or your actions as bad or wrong or even face some sort of punishment or restriction.

Who wants to punish themselves for celebrating with loved ones and eating a piece of birthday cake? Or force their body to exercise on a rigid schedule, regardless of what it actually needs at a given moment? And all based on the assumption that if you are “disciplined” you are good and if you’re not then you’re bad?!

I certainly do not want to equate my worth as a human being to the steps I take or grams of sugar I ingest.

Discipline is about obeying rules, it does not allow for flexibility or take into account an individual needs.

Discipline can actually disconnect us from our own needs, wants, and desires, instead of connecting us to our authentic selves.

Integrity, on the other hand, connects us to our core values– what really matters.

When you use integrity as your guide to accomplishing your goals, you align your actions, perspectives, and even thoughts with your personal values and what is most important to you.

When your values are clear, you’re able to regain momentum after a setback because you can return your personal why to motivate you, rather than a fear of punishment or being labeled as bad.

Here is a little secret… At times, your actions may be exactly the same whether you’re guided by discipline or integrity, but it's your thoughts, your feelings, and your inner dialogue that shift.

The good news is you hold the power to make this impact shift from discipline and obeying rules to integrity: following your passions and what is truly important to you.

Reframing Thoughts, Motivations and Actions with Integrity



Aligning your actions to your values

Acting out of obligation

Acknowledging mistakes

Punishing yourself for mistakes

Recommitting to your goals

Giving up so you don’t “fail”

Making choices to promote well-being

Restricting things you love

When you have clarity about your core values, you use them as your guide and truly become free to make choices based on what is most important to you.

I love working with clients as they uncover their personal values and begin to align their actions with their values. It brings them a sense of peace and they feel fulfilled in all areas of their life.

Sometimes, getting clarity about what you value most can be challenging– especially if they’ve been obscured by years of obligation and external expectations.

If you’re ready to start living with more integrity, then you’re likely ready for coaching.

Reach out! Let's work together and explore what’s possible for you when you decide to live guided by your values.


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