I was reminded this morning as I was offering Mass that a disciplined life is good for all of us, even though we might not always like the discipline that we are called too! If one is to have a strong physical body, one is called to discipline one's eating and exercise habits to give the greatest potential.
If one is to have a good working experience, one is called to the disciplines of the trade or profession to attain success. If one is to have a good spiritual life, one is called to the discipline of spiritual exercise or habits that will give an ultimate goal of fulfillment and peace.
Like so many disciplines we start out strong, learning and developing the skill-sets we need to succeed. New Year resolutions come to mind, setting goals and starting strong. However, like the New Years resolution, disciplines are hard to continue! We have a goal in mind: losing weight and firming up the body, developing our skill or profession by reading or practicing the task, or deepening our understanding of God and the workings of God by praying, reading the bible, or by sharing faith. We are easily distracted by the events of life and individuals who might not share our goal or well wishers that distract our attempts to attain our goal: you look fine, you don't need to lose weight; you are doing fine at your job, why are you reading that book or taking that course; or you have a good relationship with God, why do you need to be attending religious service.
Soon, what was a reasonable and attainable goal is more difficult to come by and distractions and excuses easier to come by.
The challenges of goals are: first, identify what is the goal with clarity of intent; second, what are the steps or action plans that are needed to obtain the desired outcome; third, what are the evaluation tools that will tell you that the goal(s) are on track; fourth, re-evaluate the goal (has it been reached, do changes need to be applied); fifth, if a distraction or a "bump in the road" has occurred, get back to the goal and try again.
The above is a disciplined way of approaching a goal. We are never able to accomplish goals in a vacuum; we need others to aide us by mentoring, teaching us skill-sets, motivating, directing, and walking with us through the journey or task. It may be dull and boring but the end results are grand and life-giving. Strive for a more fulfilling and life-giving life, discipline your desires and they will make you whole before others and, more important, before God.