How much better could your life be with more self-discipline?
What would you be able to accomplish?
Self-discipline is absolutely essential for achieving meaningful and fulfilling things in life.
Why? Because achieving these things requires extra effort, quite likely doing something uncomfortable, challenging, scary, or simply not as fun as other things (a.k.a. boring as hell) and for that one needs to be disciplined.
Now, let me ask you this:
On a scale from 0-10, how disciplined are you?
Where ‘0’ would be: I cannot get myself to do anything I want to do.
And ’10’ would be: I‘m tough as nails, I don’t procrastinate, and I get myself to do anything I set my mind on.
Be frank with yourself.
What would you love to be disciplined with?
If your self discipline were 9 or 10, what would you use it for?
Some personal goals?
Getting in shape, learning to play your favourite song, quitting smoking, learning a new language?
Maybe something in your professional life?
Finally getting that promotion, making more sales calls, or just not submitting your work last moment?
Have a think for a moment… what would you love to be disciplined with?
What do you know would make a real positive impact on your life but you’ve been struggling to get going with?
I have great news for you.
Self-discipline is simply a skill.
Yes, there are tools and techniques you can use that will help you be more disciplined, but it’s much more about mental tools and methods as self-discipline starts in the mind.
In this article I want to help you understand how self-discipline works, what are some of the bad habits that may be causing lack of discipline, and most importantly, what are the 9 key areas you need to improve.
The biggest Self-Discipline Misconceptions
One of the biggest misconceptions about self-discipline that I hear time and time again is that people think it’s simply willpower: i.e. using a brute mental force to get yourself to do something.
While it can certainly work, the problem with it is that it’s not a long term solution.
It’s a bit like being in a kayak trying to paddle against the current, where the current is your resistance to do something, and you paddling against it is your willpower.
Let’s suppose you’re strong enough to out-paddle the current.
Great, but for long will you be able to consistently paddle like that?
And what will happen when you stop?
The current will carry you back to where you started.
Clearly, this is not a solution.
There will always be resistance to doing challenging and uncomfortable work, it’s just human nature. However, rather than trying to out-power the current, with the right tools, you can actually harness the forces of the current.
Think of it as sailing. A sailboat can go against the current and even against the wind because of the design and geometry of the sails and how they are positioned against the wind.
This is how self-discipline works when you use the right tools.
The three main reasons people are not disciplined
When it comes to the lack of self-discipline, people often say things like:
“I don’t get it, why can’t I just do it. What’s wrong with me? I guess I’m just lazy.” etc.
It usually boils down to some of all of these three key problems.
Overwhelm is real. Sometimes it’s because we have too many options or we put so much on our plate and it’s just falling on us. Then it’s hard to focus and see the next steps or in what order we should go through them. All this can crunch us into inactivity and standing still because you just don’t know what to do next.
Lack of motivation is often the reason why we feel we can’t do something. It’s like our mind is trying to find any way to wiggle out of it. We build a case in our head against doing the tasks we need to do, and our inner voice finds a million reasons why it’s too hard, not the right time, or not worth it.
All this will then result in simply not seeing the point of doing what we need to do.
So we don’t do it.
There are many reasons why we get stuck. But one of the most common reasons is: failure. We tried something, we gave it a decent shot, maybe even stuck with it for a few days or weeks and… you failed. It may be because of your doing or not, but it just bombed. Again! Now it seems so hard to get moving again.
Moreover, this is another failure you’re putting on your resume and it’s making you question if it’s even worth it, or maybe you even question your own capabilities. Are you really that undisciplined?
The good news is that all of the three blocks can be prevented or overcome with the right tools.
Now you understand and perhaps identified with the three reasons why people struggle to be disciplined with their habits and goals.
So let me share with you how to turn them around and develop unbreakable self-discipline.
Simply put, we want to turn these three mistakes in to three strengths.
The Goal is to turn…
Overwhelm into Unwavering Clarity.
Lack of motivation into Burning Passion.
Being stuck into Consistent Action.
Let me show you how…
The 9 Pillars of Unbreakable Self-discipline
Overwhelm and confusion only get’s you stuck.
Do you want to be disciplined? You need clarity!
Being clear on what it is we actually want to achieve and why it’s important to us is extremely important.
Without clarity, we’re confused. When we’re confused we are likely to set the wrong goals or take the wrong action. And when we feel that our goals or actions may not be right, we procrastinate because, well, we don’t want to do the wrong thing.
There are three pillars to developing clarity that will help you be more disciplined.
1. Irresistible Goal
The first step to clarity is to have an irresistible goal.
An irresistible goal is crystal clear, it’s exciting!
To make it exciting you need an Inspiring WHY, which is a deep and meaningful reason why you want it.
And when you have a clear goal with an inspiring ‘why’, it’s easy to create a strategic game plan.
2. Laser Focus
Research shows that our attention span and ability to focus and stay focused in the short term and in the long term has gotten worse over the last few decades. We live in a world full of distractions.
It’s essential to re-develop this skill so you can stay locked on the tasks you’re working on without distractions as well as not getting allured away from your long term goals by other “shiny things”.
3. Winning Mindset
If you want to be a champion (of your life), you need to learn how to think like a champion.
Having your inner game strong is just as important as your action, if not more. Everything starts in the mind.
Unfortunately, we’re not being taught how to manage and master our thoughts and emotions. But it is a skill anyone can acquire.
The second big element is…
While we can force ourselves to do almost anything for a short period of time without feeling passionate about it, it’s pretty much guaranteed misery. Passion is the spice, the fire, the excitement for doing something. When we feel passionate about doing something, we’re happy to do it even when it’s difficult. We don’t really need any willpower for it.
What usually kills our passion?
Negative thinking – unreasonably indulging in how things could go wrong or how they are not good enough.
Excuses – when we make excuses we’re giving away responsibility and power.
Playing it too safe – when our goals are too easy, it’s just boring.
4. Unstoppable Motivation
Ha! Motivation. I wish I had a dollar for every instance I heard someone saying that they didn’t do something because they were not motivated.
Motivation is not something we have, it’s something we DO.
We can become motivated in an instance if we know how to get motivated – how to control our thoughts and focus.
If you focus on how hard or boring something is, that will kill your motivation right away.
But if you understand what really gets your passion burning… you’re like a rocket on a launchpad ready to fly.
You just need to press the launch button.
5. Unwavering Commitment
Ever had one foot out of the door on something, being half-committed?
Then you know that your level of commitment was very low and I don’t even need to ask you how hard you were willing to work for it or how much you were willing to risk for it.
But, have you ever set your mind on something (or someone) and thought – “I’m going to make it happen no matter what!”
THAT is a commitment.
Not only it helps you achieve more, but it sparks a whole new level of passion because you’ve just decided you will make it happen. There is no doubt in your mind.
6. Unbreakable Toughness
I hate to say it but… we are soft.
Life has just got so comfortable that any kind of challenge is a big deal…
Jumping across the road to the shop… ugh
Getting off the sofa to get something from the fridge… ugrrrhhh
Hey, we all’ve been there.
But all these things make us softer and softer.
And when a real challenge shows up, as part of our goal, it seems unconquerable.
How can we pursue our goals for months or years if we find simple things challenging?
Toughness is something we can develop in the same way athletes do.
When you raise the bar of what is challenging… everything becomes much easier.
Unfortunately, you can have all the clarity and burning passion, but if you don’t act on it, you’ll be standing still.
To be fair, that rarely happens.
When you know what you want, why you want it and you’re just buzzing with enthusiasm, it’s hard to not act on it.
Getting started is usually quite easy.
There are several different challenges when it comes to action.
7. Bouncing back
Studies showed that over 70% of people quit their New Year Resolutions by 21st of January. The reason for it is usually a broken streak of the activity they set for themselves.
Somehow people prefer to quit for good rather than bounce back and resume with perhaps just a few missed days.
The ability to bounce back is a virtue of winners. Nobody is perfect. No one has a completely clear streak.
However, winners understand that it’s a part of the game and bouncing back is part of the game.
This is something you need to be prepared for and have good strategies that will help you to just jump pack on and continue.
8. Acceleration Formula
The best way to develop discipline and willpower is to start with one particular area, whether it’s maintaining a healthy habit, learn new skills or stick with your new morning routine.
But at some point, you’ll want to apply your new consistency to other areas of your life.
People often make the mistake of starting with too much or too quickly, or both.
That will always lead to failure.
You need to grow gradually and accelerate without jeopardising what you’ve gained.
Start small and build it up.
9. Identity Upgrade
A true change happens somewhere deep within us.
True mastery of self-discipline is much more than just a new behaviour, learning how your brain works, staying on track for a bit, or having some extra self-control in resisting temptations.
When you stay consistent for a long period of time, something changes within you.
Self-discipline is not just something you do.
It’s something you are.
You BECOME someone who is disciplined.
This is where true transformation happens because then NOT being disciplined is almost unthinkable because it will just feel wrong.
I call this… The Identity Upgrade.
If you’d like to improve your Self Discipline, check out my Unbreakable Self-Discipline Program.