Discipline on Steroids: How to Boost Your Discipline
One of my deepest beliefs is that there is greatness in each and every one of us.
However, to unlock it, we must commit ourselves to a greater purpose, devote ourselves to a cause greater than ourselves, swear into excellence, and constantly strive to grow. I believe to live a happy and fulfilling life, a life that you love, you must stay consistently dedicated to the visions that ignite a flame within you.
Lack of discipline is possibly the greatest inhibitor of living success. Think about it… if you mastered the discipline to do everything you are supposed to do when you’re supposed to do it, even when you didn’t feel like it, how much more successful would you be in life? How many more goals would you already have accomplished?
Mastering discipline will undoubtedly transform your entire life. Discipline in the context of this article refers to the ability to get the things that need to get done exactly when they need to get done, whether you are in the mood to do them or not. Discipline, in my opinion is the most important but, ironically, the most under-emphasized factor for success.
Look back at your accomplishments and tell me honestly, did any of them come easy? Didn’t each accomplishment take a certain level of commitment, consistency, and dedication?… Now think about those goals you allowed yourself to slack off on… Didn’t they take longer to achieve? Or worse even became unattainable? Discipline is the difference between accomplishment and failure.
‘Be honest with yourself as to what it’s going to take for you to achieve your goal. Will it take you longer hours or early mornings…? Be honest with yourself.’ – Sean Combs.
The reason why a great majority of us struggle with maintaining discipline is because we have a misconception of what it truly means to be disciplined. You may have the notion that discipline can only manifest itself when we are either greatly stimulated or obsessed with what we are doing… and in a perfect world this would be the case.
We go wrong because we expect discipline to be easy and delightful. But this is not the case… no matter how obsessed or passionate you are about your goals, sometimes you just won’t feel like getting to it, sometime you will be tempted to procrastinate, to give yourself an undeserved break, to sleep early, or to wake up later… True discipline is not about being in your comfort zone, it’s about breaking out of it. Consistent discipline is an extremely difficult habit to acquire, but its rewards are great.
Do not panic just yet, discipline can be mastered by any one of us and this is the purpose of this article. The article aims to inspire you and educate you on habits that you can acquire to get your discipline level on steroids and keep it there.
WHY DISCIPLINE IS SO IMPORTANT IN LIFE
Discipline entails doing the things you think as opposed to acting in accordance with how you currently feel. For the most part, discipline will involve sacrificing momentary comfort and pleasure for what matters in the long run. It is discipline that will push you to wake up as early as you had planned to, to say no to your distractions, or even to work on that project of yours after the initial excitement has faded.
I can confess that discipline has been a struggle for me in the past. A lack of discipline is what has stopped me from achieving certain goals that I have had for a while… like learning how to swim. I know, it might sound funny and even insignificant, but this is just an example of how indiscipline can hold you back from achievement, big or small.
But before we talk about how you can boost your discipline level, let us first explore why discipline is so important/necessary in a person’s life.
Leads to Happiness
I know, I have mentioned that discipline is not meant to be easy or pleasant, but that is just in the moment you’re pushing yourself to go against you’re current state of mind. Consider a scenario where you pushed yourself to handle a task even when you were not in the mood, or a time when you turned down an opportunity to hang out with your friends in order to complete a task. After that task was done, didn’t you feel much better, even happy?
I think that kind of happiness and satisfaction emanates from knowing that you are that much closer to your goal when you would have been that much further had you given into indiscipline.
Everyone has their own definition of success because we all have different goals. However, one definition I’m certain we can all agree on is that true happiness is a consequence of success and we have already inferred that discipline precedes success, therefore, discipline leads to happiness…Makes sense? You deserve happiness, true lasting happiness and mastering discipline will give you exactly that.
Think of the things that matter to you, make a plan, and decide to stick to it no matter how you feel. Completely starve your distractions and watch yourself achieve goals with ease… then tell me if that that doesn’t make you genuinely happy.
‘If you do not conquer yourself, you will be conquered by yourself.’ – Napoleon Hill
Enlightens you on the Importance of Time
Discipline brings to your attention the importance of time. The reason you find yourself slacking off on your tasks sometimes is because you don’t realize how precious time is. Once you have mastered discipline, you come to the realization of how much valuable time you have been letting go to waste… you become more productive, you start breaking ground in your work, even surpassing your own expectations and targets.
Discipline teaches you to exercise control over the use of your time as well as how others consume your time. This control in turn avails to you the opportunity to tap into your full potential and achieve your goals. Discipline offers you a new found insight on how your time has been used and abused in the past so that you can readjust and better position yourself for the achievement of your goals, for success.
Makes you Decisive
‘Enter Action with Boldness.’ – #28: 48 Laws of Power
All accomplishment is preceded by deliberate action. I highly doubt that there is such a thing as accidental accomplishment, even Christopher Columbus had to brave the unforgiving Atlantic Ocean to stumble upon a continent the rest of the world knew nothing about continent.
He set out to explore and that is what he found, it wasn’t purely accidental. Discipline wakes you up to the fact that any kind of accomplishment can only be followed by decision and action.
By mastering discipline you will find yourself becoming increasingly decisive, which fuel your productivity by constantly pushing you towards action… and the cycle continues, constantly feeding on itself to make you a hub for achievement and success.
Enhances your Self-Control
Perhaps what encourages indiscipline more than anything is our indulgence in our distractions and vices.
‘Starve your distractions, feed your focus.’ – Unknown
With discipline comes self-control and you might feel that self-control limits your freedom but it is actually the contrary. What enjoyment is there in giving yourself an undeserved break to hang out with friends or attend a recreational function when you have the fear of incomplete tasks at the back of your mind? Can you really be free? I don’t think so, and even if you seem free, it’s only superficial while it’s really anarchy in your mind.
When you master discipline, you don’t procrastinate; you set very specific timelines for the completion of tasks. Apart from the productivity that comes with enhanced self-control, discipline deters you from acting on impulse and you gradually find your life falling into a state of order as opposed to the anarchy that comes with indiscipline.
8 HABITS THAT BOOST YOUR DISCIPLINE EXPONENTIALLY
Exercising discipline and maintaining it at a healthy level is not an easy task. A lot of us make the assumption that in order to feel encouraged to do something we have to find it entertaining. But the truth is, even when you find something stimulating, there will be more than a few times when you just don’t feel like engaging yourself in it. It’s quite normal.
The most successful people, however, power through their feelings and do what they know they are supposed to do when its time. Executing tasks based on whether or not it feels pleasurable in the moment is a recipe for disaster.
There’s a quote by Muhammad Ali that impacts me every time I hear it. It encourages me to stay disciplined, especially coming from a person who beat so many odds and accomplished so much success, both in and out of the ring. You can imagine just how much sacrifice, how much effort, how much discipline it must have taken to achieve that kind of success.
“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life a Champion.”
So, what are some habits you can adopt in order to truly master discipline?
Remember, however, the only way to truly master lasting discipline is to have a deep resolve to master it.
Meditation and Visualization
This is a common method used by professional athletes to motivate themselves. Visualizing victory entails projecting yourself to the future where you meet your goals. Train yourself to meditate regularly and imagine the taste of success when you finally reach the finish line.
This method when practiced regularly will help you stay motivated to stick to your schedule, eventually reinforcing your discipline. When you make mediation and visualization a routine, it keeps you at your most productive, propelling you to success in the long run.
Meditation and visualization enable you to put your mind at ease; it centers you mentally and sets your state of mind at ‘ready’ to handle whatever task lies ahead. In the long run, meditation creates an avenue for growth, which greatly impacts your ability to master discipline.
Take Action Immediately
Train yourself to take action immediately, no delays. A primary school teacher of mine loved telling us that, ‘Procrastination is the killer of dreams.’
To master discipline, you can’t afford to wait, you have to be willing to overcome the fear of failure and take the first step until you reach your destination. Push yourself to take action immediately whether or not you feel motivated. Have you ever been scared of a challenging task until you pushed yourself to start and then along the way realized it wasn’t as bad as you thought then wonder why you didn’t start sooner?.. Exactly.
Now teach yourself to take action regardless of whether you are simply unmotivated or afraid. This repetition translates into habit and eventually it becomes second nature.
‘A man who procrastinates in his choosing will eventually have his choice made for him by circumstances.’ – Hunter S. Thompson
Set Specific Timelines for Specific Milestones
There is no way to master discipline if there is no way to monitor yourself. If there are no deadlines for the tasks you have there is a great risk of you going rouge and falling into indiscipline and unproductivity.
Establish reasonable deadlines for major milestones and if they are exceptionally big, break them down into smaller milestones that also have their own individual deadlines. However, note that milestone deadlines cannot work unless you have actively made a decision to meet those deadlines no matter what… and like any other practice, it will only become part of your character if repeatedly executed.
Understand your Triggers
Certain situations or people will cause you to deviate from your agenda. It’s your job to understand what situations or individuals trigger your distractions and throw you into a cycle of indiscipline.
To master discipline you have to pay attention to whom and what triggers your impulses or unproductivity. It could be something as simple as sleep deprivation or something as complex as an unhealthy relationship. Your discipline worsens the more you indulge in your distractions and it becomes harder to master discipline the deeper you delve into a cycle of indiscipline.
So regularly conduct a self-assessment and remove yourself from environments that trigger your impulses and unproductivity and create an environment that consistently encourages you to stay on track.
Exercise and Nutrition
Discipline is contagious… if you master discipline in one aspect of your life it is highly likely that that discipline will rub off on other aspects of your life. Exercise and nutrition are one of the most overlooked routes towards developing discipline and will power.
Create an exercise routine and a healthy diet plan. These will train your brain to become resilient in sticking to a plan/schedule. At the same time nutrition will give you the energy to carry through your tasks while even the simplest exercises such yoga will relax your mind, boost your mood by releasing endorphins in your brain, and the feeling of euphoria that results will have you better prepared to face the day. Make this a habit and watch your discipline level sky rocket.
‘Yes we Can.’ – Barrack Obama
It may sound simple and insignificant and maybe even a little bit insane to be speaking to yourself but self-affirmation reminds you that you are in control of the situation and that it is within you capacity to handle it no matter how challenging it may seem. You are the closest person to yourself and if the negativity of others can affect you, how much more your own?
According to research, self-affirmation helps you stick to a plan by boosting your will power and self-control when you were running low. Learn to tell yourself that ‘I can’ as opposed to ‘I can’t’ or ‘This is hard’. Every time you preach negativity to yourself you create feedback in your mind that plays on repeat constantly reminding you of your limitations. On the other hand if you preach positivity to yourself, your mind constantly reminds you of all the reasons you can make it and this boots your morale and motivates you to keep pushing forward.
Tell yourself every day you wake up that you can stop those bad habits that are holding you back and tell yourself that you can adopt new habits that will encourage your growth. This self-affirmation will boost your will power day by day, eventually making you an extremely driven and disciplined individual.
I know sometimes you feel the need to work overtime, to sleep less, and to take less breaks in order to reach your goals faster. But never overlook the importance of rest; it is directly connected with the ability to master discipline within yourself. Getting the right amount of sleep is a prerequisite of getting any task done, you will get nothing done if you feel fatigued and even if you do you will be snail-paced and that’s no fun is it?
When you don’t get enough sleep you become easily distracted, your judgment is compromised, your mood is at an all-time low and under those conditions you are more likely to give in to your vices/distractions compared to a well-rested individual.
Another noteworthy fact about sleep is that it has great impact on your immune system and general health. A person chronically deprived of sleep on a regular basis is more likely to contract certain diseases. And there is really no point in falling ill in an attempt to reach your goals is there?
You could say ‘Yes’, and that ‘Moderation is for Cowards’ and to some extent that is true. I am also for pushing the boundaries, but from a very realistic perspective the benefits of getting enough rest outweigh the perks of depriving yourself of it.
Getting enough sleep will reboot your mind, make you more alert, improve your memory, revitalize your energy levels, lower stress, spur your creativity, sharpen your attention, and boost your productivity, will power, and ultimately solidify your discipline.
Make a Disciplined Lifestyle Your Goal
This is probably the most important ingredient in mastering unrelenting discipline.
I cannot stress this enough… the only way to truly master yourself discipline is to genuinely want to master it. You must have that resolve.
‘You can take a horse to the river but you can’t force it to drink,’ – Unknown
You need to understand that discipline is not a one-time event; it is not a seasonal event. To truly master discipline you must be willing to be consistent at it, and you must be willing to inculcate it in all aspects of your life. So ask yourself, are you ready for that? Do you understand how you stand to benefit? Are you hungry enough for success? If the answer is yes, then make that decision now… choose discipline… make that decision every single day you wake up.
One of the best ways to stick to that decision is to stick to systems and routines that constantly fuel your will power… systems and routines similar to those we have discussed above… systems and routines that will consistently focus on your long-term growth and success.
It goes without saying that by choosing a lifestyle of discipline you have to be persistent, otherwise all the effort you will have put in before giving up on consistency may very well have been a waste. Persistence in this context refers to the act of refusing to give up no matter how difficult it may be, no matter how tempting it may be to deviate. Even when we do fail, persistence allows us to get back up again.
Achieving our goals is no easy task, getting discouraged and encouraging distractions is easy. Giving up on making an effort is far much easier than pushing through with your plans/schedule, don’t you think? Especially when you have to go through a lot of discomfort in order to get to your end goal, right?
But don’t be deceived, that’s exactly what it takes to accomplish, to achieve, to be successful; it’s not a free ride, it’s not that simple. When it comes to our dreams, you get what you give. All the most successful people realized what it would take them to reach those heights of success and made a decision to give their dreams exactly that kind of effort.
Discipline is essential in our lives, lack of which results in anarchy and chaos. Discipline enables us to not only dream, but actually puts us in a position where those dreams become attainable. Unfortunately discipline is like a muscle, it has to be exercised to become stronger, when not utilized for long it begins to deteriorate in strength.
The discipline muscle is the mind and the more you instill in it habits and thoughts that encourage discipline the easier it becomes until it is like second nature to you. When you start practicing discipline and become persistent in it, it not only becomes second nature but you begin to realize that you’re pushing yourself further and further, becoming stronger in discipline by the day.
The best way to go about mastering and strengthening your discipline is to pick one important aspect of your life and focus building discipline in it. Once you are certain that you have gotten into a rhythm of discipline, add another aspect of your life… in the end you will be an all-round disciplined individual, with discipline from each aspect of your life feeding off of the other, constantly growing stronger.
Discipline may seem difficult to master but if you think about it, you enjoy life more when discipline maintained. Nothing can comfortably or freely be enjoyed when you have allowed indiscipline to invade your life. For example, you cannot freely enjoy a beer with your best friend on a Friday night if you are aware that you slacked off in the past week.
Make a decision today to persistently inculcate the practices we have discussed in your life. Also note that you are not limited to these practices alone, you can also adopt any other practices you find personally beneficial in reinforcing your own discipline. Strive to build a high discipline level of discipline and believe me, it will affect every aspect of your life positively. Not only will you be more productive and effective, but also happier and freer.
The Psychology of Achievement by Brian Tracy, which was first published in 1984, has become one of …