The Pain of Discipline vs. The Pain of Regret

We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.
— Jim Rohn

I love this quote. So I thought for today’s post I’d riff on it. 

The idea that we will all suffer from pain sounds miserable. But if you think about it, it's actually pretty liberating. It’s freeing to accept the fact that pain is unavoidable. Pain, the way I’ve defined it, is not just a physical sensation. It’s emotional and mental as well. 

If we accept that it’s unavoidable, we don’t have to cower in fear that we might experience pain. We don’t have to nervously look over our shoulder for it’s looming shadow. We don’t have to try to perform some crazy gymnastics to dodge it. 

But many people try to avoid pain at all costs. By focusing so much time and energy in avoiding pain, they end up being too distracted and distraught to appreciate the positive parts of life. Being overly focused on avoiding pain takes away their ability to appreciate the joy and beauty of life. 

So, if pain is unavoidable, is that it? Do we just throw up our hands and say, “well, I might as well give up because there’s going to be pain either way?” (Obviously not, this would be a terrible blog post if the answer was yes). This is where the next part of the quote comes in.

We get to choose between the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. 

The pain of discipline is felt every day. That’s why it only weighs ounces. 

  • It’s the discipline to sprint the last 3 steps of a conditioning drill. 
  • It’s the discipline to write down your workout before you go to the gym. 
  • It’s the discipline to train the skills that will benefit you the most, not the ones that are the most fun.
  • It’s the discipline to cheer on your teammates, and keep positive body language even when you’re having a crappy practice.

Each day, there are hundreds of little moments that invite discipline. At each moment, you can choose to be disciplined now, and face a small pinch of pain, or avoid that pain and delay it for later. 

Each individual moment weighs very little. But added up overtime they weigh tons. That ton of pain ends up swinging back around at the end of your career in the form of regret.

  • You regret not knowing what you’re capable of.
  • You regret not going after your dreams.
  • You regret not giving your best effort for your teammates.
  • You regret not going all in.


These regrets are monumentally heavy. They’re the “what if’s…” when you look back on your career.

The pain of regret is a burden that sticks with you. On the other hand, the pain of discipline is a series of small pains that disappear quickly. 

You can look back on your career and be proud of your discipline to put the work in. Or you can look back and regret not facing those pains earlier when they were much smaller.

The choice is yours.