I think we need to define discipline. I feel like there are two things that people mean with discipline, and one is doing a thing regularly even when you don’t want to and the other is delayed gratification, so doing stuff that sometimes takes a while to be really gratifying.
I kind of think discipline (in the sense of doing things really regularly even when you aren’t in the mood) like a side effect and not a goal itself? Like I am “disciplined” about fitness…because if I’m not I will immediately suffer physical consequences. I’m also “disciplined” about cooking, because I love it and it makes me feel good and it helps me save money which makes me happy, so when I don’t feel like cooking I still do it…because I have the motivation to do it because it’s what I really want. I was also “disciplined” about ballet because it was (at the time) the love of my life and my absolute passion, so it was easy to make myself get up early for rehearsals and say no to other things that would take away from it. It was natural!
By contrast, I was not very disciplined about studying in college…because I could get away with the bare minimum and still get good grades. I wasn’t interested in the courses and I didn’t have to be disciplined, so I wasn’t. I’m also not disciplined about things like having a schedule, because I don’t like having a set schedule and my life is such that I don’t have to have one. Yet, when I had to work full-time I was “disciplined” enough to get up at 6:00 am every single day, do cooking on a certain day of the week at a certain time, etc. I was able to be disciplined enough to have a schedule…because I had to have one.
I really liked the idea of learning to draw, but I couldn’t develop the discipline to do it. That’s not because I lack discipline, it’s because I didn’t actually want it enough. I didn’t enjoy the learning process, and I didn’t really want to put in the time required to get good…I just wanted to be good. I’ve learned not to fight this when it’s something nonessential. I let it go and chalk it up to not a thing I care enough about at the moment! So, I don’t see my inability to draw today as a reflection of my discipline level but of my interest level. I don’t have the interest level needed, I like the idea of an rdaneel0 who draws quietly alone and creates beautiful art…but that’s not rdaneel0 today! Today rdaneel0 wants to use feel-good time for climbing or cooking or making friends! It’s a preference, not a failing.
“Discipline” I think, is what happens when you have a strong drive to do something either because you want it, love it, or have to do it, and there is a strong component of delayed gratification inherent in a lot of forms of discipline. So I think it’s twofold, for someone like you who has proven they can have discipline (i.e. you graduated college, got an impressive job, saved a ton of money, paid off a house, etc.) maybe it’s worth looking at the types of goals you set more closely, and what you’re trying to achieve with those goals, and what you really really want versus what you like the idea of? Just spit balling here…
ETA: I also totally agree with the idea of setting up systems for things and making the have to do stuff as automatic as possible. For me, stuff I have to do that I hate…I find a way to not hate it if at all possible, usually through gratitude. I have actually shifted the way I feel about stuff this way. I used to really hate cold weather, cleaning, doing taxes, lots of stuff, now I kind of like those things so it’s way easier to be “disciplined”. Like cleaning, I focus on how much I have to clean, how fortunate I am, and how many people would love to “have to” clean such a beautiful space. Then after I’ve cleaned I soak in how much I love it, light candles, really celebrate it, so it’s now a pretty pleasant experience.