It took me many years to realise that discipline is not a dirty word, that discipline is the true key to success, all of the other success factors will not work without discipline.
I fought hard against this fact for many years. Stubbornly I wanted to do it my way. I have always hated to be told what to do, desperately pushing against the norm and status quo. I finally realised that my struggle was against myself that there are times when we need to follow the crowd and do what countless others have done to be successful.
It all starts with making the right decision, having the right goal…
When you set a clear goal that you know is right for you, it is easier to employ self discipline to achieve it. If you choose to run a marathon, it is very clear with the right training plan what you need to do to achieve that goal. If you choose to start a business, get healthy or be a nicer person, these goals are a little more open to interpretation and unless you get specific about what exactly that means to you, you are less likely to be successful with your goal. When setting goals be clear about what it is you are striving for and then break it down into the steps necessary to achieve the goal. After doing this it will be easier to track and reach the goal.
Create the right habits
When you decide on the goal, and after making sure that goal is something that feels right for you and you have the capacity and motivation to achieve it, you will need to break down the goal into monthly, weekly and daily habits that will support you to achieve it. When you create habits it takes the daily decision making away from you. It makes it easier to do what you have to do because you have already made the decision in advance. Decision making tires your brain. When we use our brain power with one activity our mental capacity may be hindered in another activity, related or not. When we create habits we take this load off the brain and allow our brain to focus on solving serious problems being creative or more strategic.
Don’t question the process
When you set your goal and work out the steps or plan that is going to get you there don’t spend time questioning the plan. Now of course there may be the odd occasion where the plan you have laid out for yourself needs tweaking or an event in your life might steer you in a different direction but in general if you have decided on good information that this is what is required to reach your goal then do it. In order to write a book, perhaps you have decided you need to write 1,000 words a day, then you need to write 1,000 words a day. When you start to give yourself leeway on how many words you need to write or skip today and write 2,000 tomorrow you are setting yourself up for a big fall. Trust the decision you made at the beginning, don’t allow your brain to sabotage your plans by telling you it’s not such a great idea and have the discipline to see it through.
“Systems are the safety net for when motivation is not there” Justin Welsh
Act as if you already are
Psychologist Jamil Querishi says “act as if you already are”. If you aspire to be something or someone act as if you already are. Refer to yourself as a writer or a marathon runner or a business owner and do the things that you would do when you are reach your goal. Would a bestselling author spend more time watching Netflix or writing? So do what you would do if you already were who you want to be
Overcoming the Bad Days and & Bull
There will be days when you are too tired, too lazy or full of self pity to follow through. These are the days that you need to be prepared for. These are the days that you watch out for. The days you need to overcome your bull. The negative self talk, screaming at you to take a break, to skip today, and get back to it tomorrow.
Take note: these are the traps, these are the obstacles your brain will throw your way to avoid the discomfort and resist the change. Recognise this and fight back. Just for today continue with your habit, do your training, your writing, your healthy eating and if you still need a break tomorrow take it tomorrow. Win today’s battle and feel that sense of pride and accomplishment that you had the mental strength to say no, I don’t need to skip this session I value myself too much for that.
Immediate Gratification vs Long term success
The biggest challenge will be to put off the immediate gratification in order to see the long term success.
Tim Urban of waitbutwhy.com says that we all have an instant gratification monkey that hijacks our rational decision making brain and makes us do enjoyable things that actually turn out to be not so enjoyable because they are shrouded in guilt! When we stay focused on the end goal we are more likely to be able to banish the instant gratification monkey and do what we need to do stay focused on the long term goal, keep your goals close by to remind yourself of what and why?
employ a Tracking system
Using a tracking app or a wall chart can help you to stay on track. One we don’t’ want to break the chain and two we get a hit of dopamine every time we tick the box to say we have done what we said we would do. Remember discipline is what separated high achievers from the rest of the world so if you want to be a high achiever. have the discipline to do what you planned to do.
use the 10 minute rule
Before letting your brain coax you off track, commit to only 10 minutes of your goal your habit or whatever you have previously commit to doing. If you only do ten minutes you will have done what you said you would do and you avoid the spiral of disappointment and regret. Often when you do ten minutes you are motivated to do more but even if you are not you will feel better about yourself.
Remember that discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment, stick with it, not only will you reach all your goals and dreams but you will be among a group of elite humans who have a rare strength to overcome their sabotaging mind and stay focused on their success.