Today’s culture has lost its grip on productivity because it has abandoned one of its best support mechanisms. I encourage you to read this post and learn some old tricks that will support you for the rest of your life.
Today’s generation enjoys the privileges of spontaneity. Impulse buying, random TV watching, ubiquitous choice, self-indulgence and untamed spirits are the rule of the day.
Today people are guided by such maxims as: If it feels good – do it! Just Do It! Please Yourself! Have it your way! And so on.
Self-determination has been exalted to the level of a lifestyle, where people are motivated by whatever their latest intention is. Everyone seeks to be able to do what they want to do, the way they want to do it, and when they want to do it. Human “intention” thus rules their lives.
It could also be described as “impulse living“. When people feel inclined to eat they will pull into a fast food place and eat. When they feel like taking a movie, the movie houses have multiple choices and multiple screening times to suit each person’s predilection.
People resent missing out, or having to wait, or having to tame their intention. Thus we see evidence of impulse violence and such things as road rage. Another word for impulse living is an untamed spirit.
Before today’s highly self-indulgent lifestyles, where people can afford to indulge themselves, people had two other anchors to their lifestyles which are less evident today. People guided their lives by moral standards which they learned from the Christian training. Generations of westerners built for today’s wealth and prosperity, by upholding moral standards which restrained their choices and guided their actions.
Today’s impulsive, self-serving citizens are destroying the society which their forebears built up through godliness, morality and discipline which today’s citizens either know nothing about or despise as repressive and restrictive.
Habits and Routine
Along with the moral basis for people’s lives there was also a suite of disciplines which people were subjected to. These disciplines, mostly externally imposed, taught people to develop internal personal disciplines. Those disciplines empowered them to tame their spirit, defer gratification, submit to authority, achieve tasks, handle responsibility and so on.
Along with those disciplines were a variety of habits and routines, which served the disciplined life. Educators, parents, societies, employers, churches and families relied on various habits and routines to ensure they maintained their performance standards and achieved the objectives they had to meet.
Habit is a powerful motivator and can be an effective change agent.
Building Support Systems
Many things cannot be achieved on pure motivation alone. Disciplines are incredibly important but they have been sacrificed on the altar of self-determination. Today’s generation has generally reacted to historical expressions of ritual, tradition and discipline, yet those very processes provide powerful resource to life and lifestyle.
Habits that are put in place with understanding and personal commitment become powerful supports to personal achievement of objectives. Traditions, liturgy and the like are very valuable.
Paying for Motivation
Evidence that today’s generation has lost resolve and the discipline muscle in the pursuit of self-will can be seen in the way people engage external motivators and disciplinarians to help them enforce their own will.
We have spawned burgeoning industries of support staff, such as personal trainers for fitness, business coaches for our business activities, financial advisors to guide our investments and even psychologists to tell us how to manage our emotions and thoughts.
People pay money to others to motivate them, due to their own lack of discipline.
Resolve to Build Habits
You don’t need to pay someone else to live your life for you. You have been given divine endowment to rule your own life and to work toward great achievement and success. Your problem is that you have given up that ability, due to the seduction of a culture that worships your independence, self-will and spontaneity.
I challenge you to choose, or resolve to build a habit. Find something that is worthy of your attention and make it a godly habit in your life. For example, read through the Bible once each year. Pray for twenty minutes every morning. Read a Christian classic each week (or month if you are slow reader).
Rule Your Spirit
As you try to set up a good habit you will probably come across your own limitations. You will probably drop the ball and want to give up on your new process. That willingness to give up indicates that you have lost rule over your own spirit. Discouragement, self-indulgence or other things have weakened your resolve.
Don’t give in to that weakness, but press on to gain rule over your own spirit, so you can build yet more godly disciplines into your life. Yielding your will to God’s claim on your life is channelling it to wise habits and routines. This can be done as an act of worship.
If you really think you need an external trainer to keep you going, then ask God to step in and discipline you. He is the best personal trainer of all.