How Contagious Discipline Killed the Bear (Market)

By Jimmy Turner, MD
The Physician Philosopher

[If you haven’t checked out the new Student Loan Refinance Page, go check it out.  I have spent hours of work on it and loaded it with information and good deals].

Walking into my best friend’s dorm room in college our sophomore year, I noticed a wooden sign that hung over his sink.  It defined the word discipline, and read:

“Discipline is doing what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, when we don’t want to do it” ~ Author Unknown

It sounds like a simple premise.  Just get your act together and do what needs to be done even if you don’t want to do it.  The great irony, of course, is that it is not always simple.  That organic chemistry homework or memorization of anatomy will not happen on its own.  Ironically, the very friend of mine who possessed this awesome wooden sign had very little discipline in most areas of his life.  The reason?  Both discipline and a lack of discipline are contagious.  I prefer to seek out contagious discipline.

Why Should I Care?

Though the Bear Market has been mostly sleeping since the late 2000s, it’s time is sure to return. You know how we will defeat it when it awakens? Unadulterated Discipline.

A plan that was attempted and failed is always better than failing to plan.  Right?  If you don’t plan at all, you are just guaranteeing failure.  Being mentally, relationally, spiritually, physically, and emotionally disciplined all have guaranteed dividends.

Mental discipline might even lead to better finances, sound investments, and returns. In fact, discipline is a huge part of how you Slay a Bear Market (post coming soon) and make sure that your finances continue on the course you originally set.

We all know that eating better, exercising more, praying/meditating more, being more mentally present are all good things.  How do we make that happen?  How do we accomplish not only setting goals, but pursuing them passionately and with a purpose?  The answer, of course, is with discipline.  Doing what needs to be done, even when you don’t want to do it.

Yeah, but how do I start?

Here is the trick.  We know that discipline is a good thing whether it is seen in our finances, our home life, or our job.  The key is to focus at becoming disciplined at one particular thing and then to let that spread throughout your life.  It usually happens through a spark or revelation of some kind.  Maybe a line has been crossed, you read an inspiring book, or attended a fascinating conference.

Maybe you start by committing to exercise daily 3 days per week.  Wake up in the morning, work out, and get it done.  [I take a pre-workout energy drink that kicks in about 30 minutes after taking and makes me want to work out]. Or maybe it’ll be setting up your finances to be automatic by paying yourself first.  Contribute straight off the top to that 401k/403B and/or (governmental) 457!  Watch as your assets grow and your discipline spreads like a wildfire.  Good decisions beget more good decisions.

What about you?  How do you start your journey of the disciplined life? For every person it is different.  For me, it was exercise.  I started working out consistently a year ago, lost more than 20 pounds (despite still partaking in my fair share of poor eating habits).  This spread to me writing regularly (and even starting this website), praying more often, and helping out around the house more than I had been.

In order for you to figure out how to get your life in order and start the viral contagion of discipline, you need to find something that is really important for you to fix (like being 25 pounds overweight when you have a loving wife and three kids you want to be around for later in life.  That’s what it was for me).  You need to find your “Why” and you need to be passionate about it.

TPP Prescriptions for Starting Your Contagious Discipline Life

As a physician I don’t normally encourage contagious activities, but I guess today is as good as any day for a first time for such a thing.  Here are some areas where you can spark that wild fire of discipline that will grow to help in other areas:

  1. Financial:  As mentioned before, learn to pay yourself first before you even see your pay-check.  Start small if you must.  Choose 10% and watch the assets grow.
  2. Physically:  Do as I did, start exercising regularly.  Exercise has benefits of helping prevent burnout, depression, and weight gain!  It’ll also potentially keep you around for longer for those that you love.  Doctor’s orders.
  3. Family life:  Commit to putting your phone down from the time you start dinner til you go to bed.  Commit to being intentionally present with your family.
  4. Financial 2.0: Start a budget!  Track some spending! Show yourself that you, too, can be disciplined and stop the floodgates from opening in your bank account.  If you don’t know where it is going, you certainly cannot stop it from leaving instead of going into investments!
  5. Spiritually:  Decide to pray or meditate more often.  This is usually best done at times that are quiet in the day (the mornings work best for my schedule).

What do you think?  Have you noticed increased discipline in certain areas of your life that started with discipline in other areas? Leave a comment.



  1. Doc G

    I think the key is intention. Face obstacles with the right intentions and you will develop discipline.

  2. Mark

    Hey good pointers. I need a little more discipline – just read a post by a CFO on LinkedIn. He had what he called the five hour rule which I think I might incorporate – devote an hour a day reading – discipline. All successful people read so I liked that

    • ThePhysicianPhilosopher

      Absolutely. I’ve heard many say that if you read on a topic for 30 minutes each day, you’ll be an expert in five years.


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