Self-discipline. Sounds hard. Boring. Takes forever. Maybe all of the above are true on occasion. But self-discipline is one of the necessary keys to your success in life. So what exactly is it and how do we acquire it?
Speaker/comedian Andy Andrews defines it like this: “Self-discipline is the ability to make yourself do something you don’t necessarily want to do, to get a result you would really like to have.” So it is, in every sense of the word, an inside job. Nobody can do it for you or to you. Rather, it is a combination of commitment and hard work, often over a long period of time, to get where you want to go. It all starts with your ability control your thoughts and actions through discipline. This means managing your thoughts, your behavior, your personal habits, and your emotions. You must keep all of them in check. Does that make you into some kind of unfeeling robot? No, definitely not.
Your self-discipline starts when you learn how to create a personalized set of habits that will enable you to keep moving ahead when the going gets rough. Is it easy? No. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it and everyone would be ragingly successful. As you look around you, you are well aware that’s not happening.
Consider this contrast: in one month, 2,800 people searched the Internet for “self-discipline.” More than 200,000 searched for “fun.” So most people would rather have fun, that quick hit of instant gratification, than go through the lengthy and sometimes painful process of controlling their thoughts and actions and sticking to a job until it is complete. Because after all, isn’t it easier on a cold, dark morning to hit that snooze button and catch an extra hour of sleep that to roll out of bed, make a cup of coffee, and do some inspirational reading? The choice is yours.
Most successful people are long-range planners. Consider these contrasts.
• Short term: grab that beautiful outfit on sale at your favorite boutique. Long term: pay off your credit card debt.
• Short term: grab a cigarette to help you relax. Long term: breathe deeply and get healthy.
• Short term: join the office gang for happy hour after work. Long term: save a few bucks and fatten your savings account.
You get the picture. And you probably know which actions you would be most likely to take.
Whether or not you choose to develop self-discipline is strictly up to you. But before you decide on your next move, consider what NOT having it could be costing you. Listed below are just a few areas of your life where having self-discipline brings success and not having it leads to discomfort, unhappiness, and possibly outright failure.
Self-discipline means looking at the various aspects of your life and quitting activities or habits in those areas that are producing unhappiness and outright dysfunction. Consider how you are functioning in each of these areas of your life right now.
• Physical health
• Mental health
• Important relationships
• Job and career
• Spiritual life
It’s entirely possible that you are functioning at peak performance in some places and not in others. For example, many people are so focused on their job, their career, building a business, producing an income—that they are neglecting their health and their important relationships. Right now you can choose to bring things into better balance. You can see the areas where you need to change and begin to develop habits that will bring your whole life picture into clear focus.
The secret to successful change and habit-building is to begin with micro-changes. Let’s say you know your work is consuming the majority of your energy and you’re neglecting your significant other. A micro-change might be to sit down together for a glass of wine one evening a week. Devote all your attention to the other person. Don’t discuss your work, or theirs. And here’s the REAL secret: be consistent. If you’ve promised yourself to do this once a week, do it no matter what. Don’t do it once or twice and then go back to your old ways. That is not habit forming!
An organized life is a disciplined life. Do one small thing each day to improve your personal and business environment, your health, your relationships. That’s all it takes. Before long, you will have become a self-disciplined success.
“An excerpt from my book Prepping For Success: 10 Keys to Making it in Life
Visit www.PreppingForSuccess.com/book for more