The TRUE Meaning of ‘Follow Your Heart’ and Where Self-discipline Fits In

One phrase that has gone around these days and caught a lot of attention is this: Follow Your Heart.

Now that’s true – following your heart is definitely something that will give you happiness and without happiness what is your life anyway?

But the problem is that hearing “follow your heart” again and again makes people understand it as: “do what you feel like doing”.

And that’s the problem.

Following your heart is a really, really deep concept that leads to deep fulfillment and a life full of satisfaction, meaning and of course happiness. “Do what you feel like doing” is very bluntly put – the road to hell. It’ll really – take you nowhere at all – and make you feel pathetic if you do it too often.

What’s the difference? The difference lies in having the self-discipline to first go deep within yourself and find out what you truly, truly, truly feel like doing and then having the self-discipline to do that. That’s what following your heart is. Doing what you feel like doing means – just that – doing anything you feel like – and ending up with a haphazard mess.

Follow your heart - or not

Why Self-Discipline Is the Key

Self-discipline means having the power to CHOOSE what is TRULY important to you over that which you consciously reject as not that important.

Writing this article right now is making me happy at a very deep level and I have chosen to write it. At this instant, I could do many other things – that would infact be things that I may feel like doing. I could order some cake and eat it, I could socialize on Facebook, I could sleep, I could read a mystery novel…I could do a lot of things.

However, I have chosen to write this article because writing it makes me feel happy, and meaningful deep, deep down. That joy – or the intensity of it is much more than the joy of pursuing other activities.

Am I following my heart in writing this? I am! Am I doing what I feel like doing? I am not – I can feel like doing a hundred things!

So in a nutshell, self discipline is this: Doing what is truly, truly important to you – something that makes you immensely happy – even if this is done BY FORCE and NOT doing a hundred other things you feel like doing which won’t make you that happy.

Only a Self-Disciplined Person Can Follow His (Or Her) Heart

 That’s because only a self-disciplined person can CHOOSE to follow his heart. Only he can look within and say – “Hey, this is what is important to me and I will do it.” A person without self-discipline will just flow here and there and do a lot of things he doesn’t even care about in the long run.

Look at people who write books. Of course their life must be cool right? I mean, they write and they have fun and they invent all these creative characters – and have plots…So many of us want to write a book! But in reality, these people set goals. They sometimes force themselves to write something…anything – to get into the flow. They may even write crap the first time they write a chapter. That is because if they don’t FORCE themselves to write, they’ll never get into the flow and enjoy the bliss of creating the wonderful book.

What I mean to say is that everyone – even the person who loves every bit of the work he does – has moments when he does not want to do that work. And if he allows himself to NOT do that work, after a few days he will not feel like doing that work at all. And if he allows himself to not even feel like doing that work, a day will come when he will be sad and dejected despite having spent the entire day doing what he feels like doing. He may have watched a movie, gone to an adventure park, had fun at the discotheque – and he will still find something missing. And then he will realize how happy that work which he let pass because he did not feel like doing it, made him.

Then Where’s the ‘Passion’ Part in Follow Your Passion?

Of course there is the passion part. And I agree that without that you won’t be happy.

But – and that’s an important BUT – just finding your passion or knowing what you are passionate about is NOT enough. There are millions of people who know that and they are still unhappy and deeply unsatisfied.

What matters is: FORCING yourself to do something about your passion. Working towards it even when you don’t feel like it. Doing this not with the purpose of punishing yourself but because of the knowledge that even though you currently don’t feel like it, doing this activity consistently will give you such blissful joy that it might even make you cry.

Remember – doing what you are passionate about – is always fun. But – then STARTING any activity may or may not be fun. You may feel the passion intensely on some days and a bit lesser on other days – yet doing that work nevertheless is what self discipline is all about. It makes YOU be in control. It makes YOU pay more attention to your passion so that the passion blossoms.

Many times, I don’t feel like writing an article. But I start writing anyway. Even when I don’t know what to write! And then, after some time, after I have written hundreds of words, I can’t be stopped. I am so in the flow – writing so passionately, that if someone disturbed me – I wouldn’t wait to say – “No, don’t disturb.” And yet, the funny part is – had I done what I felt initially, I would not have started writing at all!

Develop the Self-Discipline to Follow Your Passion

If you had to take away one line from this article, let it be this: “Self discipline is JUST as important as passion or excitement or whatever.” Steve Pavlina puts it aptly when he says,

Using passion as your only fuel will no more assure you of success than being in love will ensure a successful long-term relationship. Self- discipline is far more important than passion, especially in business. In fact, if you develop the quality of self-discipline to a high degree, it will put passion to shame.

He’s right. That’s why they say hard work is the key to success. That’s not because success involves doing work you don’t like. That is because doing what you love itself requires some effort.

It requires a momentum which you FIRST need to create. And that has to be created by force even when you don’t feel like it – simply because you know how important and fulfilling that activity is deep down.

Well, wherever you are, rock your world with self-discipline and passion!