The Undisciplined Life: Why Broken Lives Stay That Way

Imagine standing on the sidelines waiting to get into the game and the coach turns and asks you if you have done in your spare time everything you needed to do in order to play when called on. You say yes because you want to get into the game, but once you enter everyone can clearly see that you have not been practicing, taking the extra shots needed to better your average, nor have you done the drills to build your endurance. If and when the opportunity arises again, the coach will not trust you to get in the game. Not because you are not good enough but because you are not disciplined enough.

There are many other states of mind that demonstrate a broken life but the bottom line is, people who experience loss in more than one area of their lives feel broken. A broken life is when an individual has not come to a place in life where they can look back and say I’ve accomplished my goals and dreams. It embodies a life that has been filled with one disappointment after another. When lives are broken is where people live day by day accepting life the way that it is. They don’t challenge life; they don’t push the edges of the envelope, and they live moment to moment in a state of despair.

As I look back over my life, I realize there hasn’t been one single factor that I can point to that has made a major impact. Factors like discipline and having a positive attitude (I will talk about having a positive attitude in my next post) have contributed to how I’ve lifed my life.  In life, there are many factors that separate those who have from those who have not. However, I believe that the art of being disciplined will put one with less talent, fewer abilities, and less money ahead of others. Being disciplined is more complicated than it sounds but less complicated than one might think. Discipline is nothing more than having the ability to follow through.

At some point all of us will experience that feeling of being broken, that’s normal it’s what we do after the brokenness that will determine where we go in life. People who live broken lives do so by choice; they have not taken ownership of their current position in life. In this blog, I will outline four different undisciplined behaviors that cause broken lives to stay that way. If you do the exact opposite, you will be on the path to success.

1. Holding Too Many Balloons

When I was younger, I would try to blow up a balloon, and I remember not having enough strength to blow it up. As I continued to grow, I realized that I could not talk and try to blow at the same time. Eventually blew up my first balloon. Accomplishing that goal was a major feat for me, being very small in nature at the time. When the balloon was empty, it was like every other goal that one might set flat with the option to be filled. I have never seen anyone blow up a balloon without stopping and taking a breather. Two fingers around the top of the balloon will allow you to keep the air you’ve blown in while you take a breather. You can only hold the air in for so long before it starts to seep out. There are only two positions for a balloon, you are either putting air in or letting air out. I love balloons because once they are blown up, they are bouncy and hard to manage when trying to carry too many at one time. When you carry too many balloons, some will fall, when you try to pick that one up another one or two will fall. There are times when we try to carry too many things and end up not carrying any one thing well. Carrying more than one balloon will take the focus off the main balloon you should be carrying. Undisciplined people never figure this out; they become what my mother used to call, “A Jack of all trades, but a master of none.” They never put down the balloons; they continue on their mission stopping every so often to pick up another balloon. If your life is broken and you do not focus on one balloon at a time it will stay broken, put all unnecessary balloons down.

 2. Never prioritizing

Undisciplined people rarely prioritize. They don’t understand the importance of putting first things first. Stephen Covey outlines in his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, his time management grid and where we should be focusing most of our time. For those who might not be familiar with the grid, it is broken into four quadrants. Quadrant one is for important and urgent matters, quadrant two is for important but not urgent matters, quadrant three is for urgent but not important matters, and quadrant four is for not important and not urgent matters. Undisciplined people spend their time in the wrong quadrant. Time spent on things that are not important is time wasted. Important matters should not become urgent matters if the proper attention is given to them. I received a parking violation that came with a $100 fine. It was important to me, but I ignored it. Upon the second notice, I was shocked to see that the fine had doubled. It was still important, but I got busy and didn’t pay it by the second due date. I was a city employee at the time; I was sent a final notice that said that I would be fired if the debt wasn’t paid. What was important became urgent because of neglect. I did not prioritize, and I ended up paying twice as much because of it. Broken lives will stay that way if time is not spent prioritizing.

 3. Holding on beyond the expiration date

I have learned that every endeavor has to have an expiration date. Too often we hold on to things that have expired in our lives. Whether its dreams that we have not come to pass, relationships that have gone south, clothes that we can no longer fit, feelings of rejection, love or who we used to be. When someone has been broken, I have found that holding on allows them to stay in those emotions far longer than one should. When we hold on to the hurt of a past failure no matter what it is, we relive that moment over and over again. Not being disciplined enough to let go will not allow us to put space between what happen to us and who we are. Undisciplined people allow what happened to them to effect what is happening in them. When you hold on to beyond the expiration date, it will affect other areas of your life and what should be limited to one area begins to spread throughout your life. It takes discipline to let go and not hold on to events that have changed your life for the worse.

 4. Get Back On the Bike

When I was young, my father was teaching my brother and me how to ride a bike. I’ll never forget his method. In fact, some of you probably went through similar training. My dad would hold one side of the handlebars and the back of the seat at the same time, all while coaching me to guide the bike and paddle. After a while, he would let go of the handlebars, hold the back of the seat and run along the side of the bike to let me know that he was still there. Then he let go of the back of the seat and continued to run along the side of the bike to make me think things were the same as before. It was until I heard his voice getting fainter that I realized that he was no longer running with me. In a desperate panic, I looked back and saw that he was not there, and I crashed. I scared my arms and legs and began to cry. My dad came to me in a very uncompassionate voice and demanded that I get back on the bike. Tears and all I got on the bike and road the rest of the day without help and without falling.  Once life has knocked you down, it is very important that you get back on the bike of life as soon as possible. Forget about the scars, the tears and the pain and ride. The longer you stay down, the longer it will take you to fix what has been broken. Undisciplined people never get back on the bike.

Being broken is a choice, and you can choose to put your life back together one piece at a time, or you can choose to stay broken. The choice is yours.

Curtis Hill is Founder and president of Curtis Hill Beyond Limits INC., and a keynote speaker delivering keynote speeches, motivational seminars and training.