When my information changes, I alter my conclusions. What do you do, sir?
—John Maynard Keynes
I like to say that self-discipline is a powerful force, but only as long as you apply it deliberately in the right circumstances.
Blindly exerting self-control when your efforts are fruitless and unlikely to lead to positive results is dangerous because it’s not only a waste of time, but may also lead to bitterness.
“I was so self-disciplined and yet I failed! Self-discipline is overrated, I’m done with it!”, a person might exclaim upon realizing that their efforts were for naught, but failing to notice that their self-discipline wasn’t to be blamed — it was their wrong use of it that resulted in wasting time.
For example, I once worked in the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) industry. I helped clients build backlinks to their websites so that they could rank higher on Google.
In addition to client work, I built my own sites. At one point, I had 40 sites, each targeting different keywords and covering a different topic. I was extremely self-disciplined about this business, as I was building new sites every week and constantly writing new articles for them.
When my revenue had finally shot up to around $1000 a month, Google introduced an update to their algorithm and my most successful sites dropped in rankings. My income fell by over 50% overnight. I discovered that it wasn’t anything new in the SEO industry. Google periodically
introduced new updates and people like me regularly had to rebuild their businesses according to the new rules.
Upon realizing that my business would forever stand on wobbly legs, I stopped working on new sites and retreated from the industry. Choosing to stay self-disciplined would have been the wrong choice, because it would probably never lead me to building the lucrative, stable business I was
seeking to achieve.