An Ascetic Life

I recently learned a new word and it has been stuck in my brain for weeks. I don’t believe I knew the word before I read it in a book. The book is Titan, a biography of John D. Rockefeller, the richest man the modern world has ever seen.

The word is ASCETIC. Its meaning most simply is severe self-discipline. The word was used to describe Rockefeller and how he lived his personal and professional life.

When I read the phrase “severe self-discipline” I knew instantly I had a new tool to measure myself, a new idea to work towards, and most importantly a little expansion of my mindset and thinking.

Discipline is critical to success. When motivation wanes discipline is there to move you forward. When you have a setback discipline is there to get you back on track. Discipline keeps you on your path.

It is not easy. It takes huge amounts of effort to be disciplined. The good news is that it is a skill. Self-discipline is something that can be worked on. You can get better at it. Just be aware that progress is slow, hard, and there will be setbacks.

To help develop the skill there are some strategies that you can implement to get you moving forward.



To make any lasting progress in the development of self-discipline you have to have something deep down within yourself to pull strength from. Why are you trying to get better? For whom are you doing what you do? What is the long-term end goal you are trying to achieve? Answering these questions honestly and fully may not be easy. Some people can’t answer them at all. That’s ok. There are as many reasons for trying to improve ourselves as there are people. Think hard about your why and you will be able to use that when you don’t feel like doing what you need to do.



Discipline is about consistency. When you are working on being more disciplined making wholesale changes in your life will not work. You need to identify an area of your life to develop and pick just one action to focus on. For example, I am trying to be more disciplined with my reading this year. To practice, I read every night instead of turning on the TV. It is a small change and it can be easily followed through on. However, I do fail, often. But I recognize it and do better the next time and take a step forward in the practice of becoming more self-disciplined.



When you have figured out your why and identified a small action you can work on you have to make the commitment. The commitment is to yourself to keep working on the small action day after day no matter what. If you feel tired, you work on your action. If you are not motivated, you work on your action. If you have had enough, you work on your action. The commitment has nothing to do with how you feel and all to do with the actions you carry out.


Developing self-discipline is hard. From all I have learned so far in my life I believe that discipline is the best path to success. The more disciplined you can become the faster you will be able to reach your goals.

And don’t worry if you fail. Everyone fails. Everyone must fail. It is the only way to get better. It is a prerequisite. However, you must start again. That’s the discipline. That’s how we get better.



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