5 Tips for Becoming a More Disciplined Person
If you struggle with the discipline required to do the things you need to accomplish the goals you have set for yourself, you are not alone. It takes discipline to be disciplined.
“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” Jim Rohn
The reasons we struggle can range from wanting instant gratification to not wanting to feel the discomfort of doing hard things on a schedule. We struggle with the unending string of distractions that appear every time we prepare to execute our daily disciplines.
It’s also easy to view your daily disciplines as painful and uncomfortable. As Jim Rohn says, “We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.”
Jocko Willink, retired US Navy Seal and expert on the importance of discipline to achieve anything, describes discipline as the root of all good qualities, the driver of daily execution, and the core principle that overcomes laziness and lethargy, and excuses. Jocko is famous for saying, “Discipline is freedom!” How can that be? Well, as Jocko explains it, if you want financial freedom, you better be disciplined with your finances. If you want to be free from bad health issues, you better be disciplined with your healthy diet and exercise habits. If you want more free time, you need to be disciplined about investing your time.
“Discipline is the foundation upon which all success is built. Lack of discipline inevitably leads to failure.” Jim Rohn
Becoming a Disciplined Person
First, as Jocko says, “Pick a target and engage.” This simple statement says a lot. We often fail at a disciplined approach to pursuing our goals because we have not picked a target. We pick many targets and then try and engage across too many fronts. Decide what outcomes you want and the 2-3 things you need to do to get there. Then do those 2-3 things.
Secondly, recognize the importance of consistency. Author James Clear says, “You need consistency more than you need intensity.” We often make our daily disciplines so intense that we can embrace excuses not to do them. Instead, make the daily disciplines you need to move forward small yet meaningful and then do them every day. For example, if you wanted to develop a reading discipline and set a goal to finish a certain number of books in a year, it could be overwhelming to think of that stack of books. Instead, if you set your daily discipline to read two pages every day, you could easily accomplish your goal and establish a discipline for reading. Did you only read two pages a day? No. If the conditions were right, you might read two chapters, but you never read less than two pages a day.
Third, pay attention to your mindset. If you go into each day with the mindset that you “have” to do your daily routines, your mind will be open to the many distractions and excuses that will inevitably present themselves. Instead, adopt an “I get” to do these essential tasks, and they will help me get where I want to go. It’s a small change with significant results.
Fourth, don’t miss twice. Let’s face it; you will slip up. There will be days when life might get the best of you, and you miss or ignore your daily commitment. James Clear reminds us that “consistency does not require perfection.” He also points out that “individual mistakes do not matter in the long run. Instead, it is the second mistake that is far more important.” If you make a mistake, miss a workout, fail to read, just don’t miss twice.
Finally, recognize the choice. This all comes down to the choices we make every day. Often the choices are so routine that they don’t seem like choices, but they are. Sleeping in, a choice. What I eat today, a choice. Getting a workout in, a choice. The challenge is often that it is not good versus bad; it is between two good things. Let’s say you chose to skip your morning run so you can work on a project for work. Those are two good things to choose from; however, having a daily discipline tells me that the reason I woke earlier than usual was so I could get in the run AND then work on the project.
Are you Preparing or Repairing?
The problem with not doing what needs to be done when needed is that we set ourselves up for what John Maxwell calls a cycle of repairing from yesterday instead of preparing for tomorrow. Establish a few disciplines that will prepare you for your future success, and then do them daily.
Perry Holley is a coach and facilitator with the John Maxwell Company’s Corporate Solutions Group as well as a published author. He has a passion for developing others and seeing people grow into the leaders they were intended to become.