Why Discipline? Let me tell you, success normally doesn't happen overnight. In fact, the people who seem to be able to pull off any kind of success in a very short period of time have actually paid their dues. That's right. They weren't born that way. They had to go through a long process of disappointment, failure, and yes, pain. If you see a lot of winners around you, it's because they put in the time. The good news is, you can do the same. Discipline is not just about achieving your goals. It's also about becoming a better person. Because let's face it, if given a choice, we'd rather do things that are pleasurable, quick and easy right here, right now. Unfortunately, life reserves the biggest rewards to people who would rather wait until they eat their cookie. If you develop that skill as a little child, you will be able to become a very successful person indeed. In fact, in a long term study conducted in the United States, children who were able to delay gratification by foregoing eating a cookie now, in exchange for a promise of eating two cookies in the future, turned out to achieve higher levels of career, personal and health success. Discipline is closely related to how well you do in life. This is not something that you pick up to solve some sort of problem, and then promptly drop. Instead, this is a key part of you that you need to invest a proper amount of time, effort and energy in, which will continue to pay dividends long into the future.
Many Levels of Discipline
There are many levels to discipline. There is no one-size-fits-all set of features to discipline. In many cases, it requires adaptability, depending on the particular set of circumstances you're dealing with. With certain people, you need more discipline than others. In certain aspects of your life, like education, you will need a certain type of discipline, whereas you would need different levels of self control when it comes to avoiding drugs, alcoholism or sexual addiction. This is also true when it comes to emotional self control. Let me tell you, it's the easiest thing in the world to tell people what you're thinking. But let me tell you, that's also the easiest way to burn your bridges. If you want to become part of the solution, you have to know how to control your emotions and channel them in a productive way. All of this requires discipline.
Discipline is Something YOU DO
There are many misconceptions regarding discipline. A lot of people confuse it with other personal traits. What is discipline anyway? I have given you an earlier definition, but we're going to drill deeper in this section. Discipline involves action. It really boils down to what you do and what you choose not to do. This is the most practical way to frame discipline based on how people actually perform. Discipline is the ability to do things that you'd rather avoid. These are necessary things. These are things that can take your life to the next level. These are things that can set you up for greater success in life. These are the things that would resolve a lot of personally difficult issues, but most people would rather avoid them. Let's face it, if given a choice between emotional confrontation and just letting sleeping dogs lie, most people would take the latter. That's just human nature. Discipline gives you the ability to attack these things head on. Discipline also gives you the ability to do what you have committed to doing no matter how inconvenient or uncomfortable. If you have given your word to somebody and you have promised to do something, discipline enables you to follow through. You may not feel like it, it may not be all that convenient, in fact, it might even be a major hassle, but if you are a disciplined person, you will come through each and every time. How come? You have given your word. You have committed to that person. As you can well imagine, this can help build a reputation.
Let's face it, most people would rather flake. Most people would get wobbly and eventually just drop out. It doesn't really matter if they have given you their word. It doesn't really matter if they made all sorts of promises. At the end of the day, it all boils down to whether they are willing to stick to their promises, regardless of how inconvenient it is, or whether they just take the path of least resistance. Which brings me to the next point. Discipline also involves the ability to stick to a course of action, even if you're busy or you don't feel like it. You would be able to stick to something that you have committed to, even if you feel like you don't have the time. Discipline also involves patience in relationships. Let's get one thing clear, the person that you're with is in your life for a reason. Of the 100 different traits that make up that person, you probably love 90 to 95 of them, but there are 5 traits that you really hate. This requires patience. Everybody is a work in progress. None of us are perfect. If you want your relationship to blossom and survive, you have to be disciplined. Finally, most people have principles, but not everybody is willing to stick to them. Not everybody is willing to sacrifice for them. When you have discipline, you find the strength to stick to principles. It may not be popular, it definitely may not be convenient, but you will stick to it anyway. This builds character. This also builds reputation because you stick out like a sore thumb. Most people would rather abandon their principles at the most convenient or most opportune period. Few and far between are people who are willing to stick to something because of personal principle. This requires discipline.
Key Mindsets to Adopt to Become More Disciplined
I wish I can tell you that becoming more disciplined is just a simple matter of deciding to be disciplined. It would be so easy if that were the case. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. You may have certain mindsets that you may not be aware of that can get in the way of you becoming a more disciplined person. That's right. You might be sabotaging yourself because you hang onto certain ideas, assumptions or expectations that can undermine your progress towards greater levels of self-discipline. You need to adopt the following mindsets so they can either counteract whatever negative mindsets you have or they can turbocharge your ability to develop discipline. Discipline is Like a Mental Muscle Please understand that for your personal level of self-discipline to increase, you have to challenge it. You can’t just say, “I’m going to be a more disciplined person” and refuse to put it into action. That's not going to work, not in a million years. You have to stress your level of discipline. For example, if you’re having a tough time showing up to work on time, you can't just slide back and say, “Well, it’s not going to happen”. You’re not exercising your discipline mental muscles when you do that. Instead, you try again and again to show up on time. Once you're able to do that, you step it up by trying to show up five minutes ahead of time then ten minutes then fifteen minutes. The more you stress or put pressure on your ability to act in a
disciplined way, the stronger it becomes. The worst thing that you can do is to fail to challenge whatever discipline you already have. The More I Run Away from Difficult Things, the Weaker My Discipline Becomes You have to adopt this mindset. You have to understand that when you react to your world out of fear, you become a less-disciplined person. In many cases, you don't even develop discipline in the first place. You have to understand that there are a lot of scary things in life. There are a lot of things that you’d rather not deal with. However, that's what makes life so interesting. You have to lose your fear. You have to stop viewing these things as inconveniences, hassles or “things I hate to do”. Instead, you should turn around and embrace them. Sure, they are very inconvenient. Sometimes, they’re downright uncomfortable but guess what? The more you do them, the more you get used to them. Most importantly, the more you do them, the more you're able to connect the dots and you're able to do more of them. That’s how you become more efficient. That's how you become a more effective person. Unfortunately, if you make it a habit to continuously give in to quitting, the weaker you become. You have to understand that in this life, you're going to be facing different challenges. If your number one instinct is to turn around and quit, you become a weaker person. Eventually, don't be surprised if it doesn't take much for you to want to quit. This is why you have to turn things around. You have to make this process go in the other direction. In other words, it would take harder and harsher circumstances for you to take a step back. That's the direction you should go because when you do that, you increase your levels of discipline but you also maximize your levels of personal confidence and competence. When most people would rather deal with a problem by just giving up or kicking the can down the road, you stand out like a hero when you’re the only person looking to tackle that problem. Please understand that this applies across the board. I’m not just talking about issues that you face at work or at school. This can also involve your relationships. The More I Do Things, the Better I Get at Them It may not seem like it, at this point in time, but you're actually building up competence the more you do something. Seriously. For example, if you make it a habit to walk around your block every single day, I can guarantee you that you’re probably seeing different ways to make your daily routine more pleasant. You’re probably seeing different details that you can benefit from. Simple repetition gives you all sorts of opportunities to do a better job. Again, this applies across the board. This is due to the fact that the more you do something, the less intimated you become.
Do you remember the first time you rode a bicycle? Chances are you bruised or scraped your knee constantly. After all, you were learning. However, after a certain point, you mastered your bike-riding skills, and it will take quite a bit of a hit for you to get thrown off your bike. You probably went through this process without looking at the big picture. It was just something thought you had to do. Well, assume that same attitude when it comes to the big things in life that are stressing you out. Apply this same attitude to the things that you would rather quit on. Another fact that you can take comfort in is the reality that the more you do something, the more routine it becomes. The reason people fail with certain tasks is because they’re intimidated by them. They think that it's going to be too hard, that it will take too much time or it’s just too hard to figure out. However, the more you do something, regardless of how many times you fail, you take a lot of the emotional intimidation out. It becomes familiar and, once it starts to become routine, you start breaking things down and guess what? You start succeeding more often than your failures. Eventually, you reach a point where you basically get those results that you’re looking for time after time. This really all boils down to the ability to connect the dots and see patterns. Unfortunately, you’re not going to get there if your number one instinct is to give up. Adopt the mindset of “the more I do things, the better I get at them”, and you will become a more competent person in many areas of your life. Competence Produces Confidence In US educational institutions and school districts, the idea of self-esteem as the gateway to confidence has been the received institutional wisdom for several decades now. The idea is if you make kids feel good about themselves, eventually, they will become more competent. Eventually, they will be able to figure things out and achieve. Well, it turns out that it's actually the other way around. According to research studies in the 1990s, when children become competent in something or anything, they become more confident. When they're more confident, they experiment more and they try harder and they increase their levels of competence. It turns out of that competence produces confidence which enables people to develop even higher levels of competence. Confidence does not flow from self-esteem. Instead, self-esteem flows from competence. Understand how this works. Adopt this mindset. Let's face it. You may not be all that confident about certain things in your life right now. However, the more you master them, the more competent you become. You will then feel more confident to tackle more things and go out on a limb on many areas of your life. The more confident you become, the more you try, and the more competence you build. This leads to even more confidence, so on and so forth. You just need to start somewhere, and this means doing.
You may think that you would do a lousy job today, but that's okay. You have to start somewhere. The good news is as long as you choose to put in the work to become competent, the confidence will follow. Momentum is on My Side Believe that moment is on your side. If you believe this, you will eventually reach a point where it becomes harder and harder for you to stop than to start. I know this sounds crazy at this point. At this point, you’re probably having a tough time staying from foods that you know are bad for you and sticking to foods that don’t taste all that good. The good news is the more you stick to it, the easier it becomes over time. In fact, you could reach a point of momentum where it becomes harder to stop your behavior than to start. All it takes is to keep trying and to keep on pushing. When this becomes your routine, this action changes the way you look at things and the way you feel about things. This eventually becomes part of your identity.