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The Danger of Discipline without Direction

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

There is no intrinsic value to finishing what you started.

“But…but…you didn’t finish” is not an argument that you actually *should* finish.

If you’re in the middle of doing something that’s inconsistent with your preferences and principles, then you shouldn’t hold yourself hostage to your current trajectory just because you’re afraid of being called a “quitter.”

Some of our best moments as a species are when we convince one another to *not* finish something we started precisely because it’s unhealthy or unhelpful.

The value of finishing a task is relative to what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. If finishing a task makes you a better human being and you genuinely believe that it’s the right choice for you, then you should finish what you started even it’s uncomfortable. If sticking with a task robs you of your time, your money, your health, your joy, or anything else that really matters to you, however, then it’s self-defeating to keep going merely for the sake of proving to others that you’re a disciplined person.

To persist in a task that is no longer fruitful nor fulfilling in the name of “being a finisher” is to make yourself a victim of the sunk cost fallacy.

Stopping what you started can sometimes be a greater expression of discipline than finishing what you started.

When you find yourself dragging your feet down a path that isn’t serving your highest priorities, it takes a lot of strength to rethink your assumptions and redirect your actions.

The question to ask is not “Am I willing to finish what I started?” The question to ask is “Am I willing to be faithful to my ever-evolving understanding of what matters most to me? And sometimes that means finishing. And sometimes that means letting go of the things that are no longer worthy of you.

I place quitting and finishing on equal epistemic ground. If rational justification is required for quitting, then it’s also required for finishing.

“Finish what you started” is not some sort of axiom that should be greeted with less scrutiny than “Quit if you don’t want to finish.”

Both can be wrong. Both require critical thinking.

“Does that mean I should stop eating healthy merely because I don’t feel like it anymore?”

Of course not. You don’t need to be a flake in order to be honest with yourself and others about the things aren’t working for you.┬áDon’t confuse pushing yourself out of your comfort zone with forcing yourself to deny your values.

Determination and discipline are good, but nothing is more dangerous than determination and discipline without discernment and direction.

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