Virtue is not a mushroom, that springeth up of itself in one night when we are asleep, or regard it not; but a delicate plant, that groweth slowly and tenderly, needing much pains to cultivate it, much care to guard it, much time to mature it, in our untoward soil, in this world’s unkindly weather. —Isaac Barrow
If self-discipline were like a mushroom that springs up of itself without the need for a gardener, everybody would possess it. Unfortunately — or fortunately, depending on how you look at it — it’s more like a plant that you need to constantly cultivate, or else it withers.
Some people believe that one either possesses a “green thumb” or not — as if one person were born with an inborn talent to care for plants and another not.
In reality, the person with the supposed green thumb is simply more attentive to their plants. They make sure their plants have everything they need to thrive and regularly check up on them to make sure they stay healthy.
Think of self-discipline in the same way. You plant its seeds the moment you decide it’s time to stop coasting through life and prioritize long-term rewards over instant gratification. However, this moment is just the very beginning; as in the case of planting the seed for a new flowering plant,
there’s a lot of time and energy you’ll still need to invest to make it bloom. If you want to have a beautiful plant, you can’t water it occasionally or move it from one place to another every other week.
Ask yourself: what kind of a gardener am I for my own self-discipline? If your self-control were a plant, how would it look based on how you’ve been cultivating it the past years?