When my wife and I first got married, I was lazy…I mean really lazy.
It wasn’t just that I didn’t wash dishes or do laundry…I didn’t even take my dishes to the kitchen and my laundry piled up on my floor.
It wasn’t that I was busy, I was just lazy. You know the drill: TV, video games, internet, repeat.
Now, I work full time for the military, run 15 miles per week, lift weights 5 hours per week, write for an hour each day and still manage to help my wife with the dishes and the laundry. Did I mention we are a family of 6 and family time is also very important to us?
So, what changed? Did the military instill this discipline in my life? Not really…
It was mostly about small changes, creating habits and keeping the momentum up.
I also realized a very important point…
“We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” -Aristotle
I figured out that I was full of excuses and that’s why self discipline wasn’t part of my vocabulary.
Here’s How Discipline is Created
Discipline is created in one way: building small habits overtime and growing them into larger habits.
Keep it easy, especially in the beginning. Build the habit of doing, it doesn’t matter how much you do.
Build the discipline of going to the gym, even if you only stay for 5 minutes.
Build the discipline of reading everyday, even if you only read one page.
You have plenty of time to build the habit bigger. The important thing is starting.
Success ultimately comes from discipline in one way or another. That’s why discipline is so important.
If you have failed in the past, learn from it. Look at the patterns of your failed disciplines and habits. Figure out what you should do differently next time.
Use Action, Not Motivation
Do something you don’t want to do and see how it feels. Action cures fear.
If you know you need to make a sales call, read a book or do a workout…try just doing it. Once. See how it feels. It’s never as bad as we make it out to be.
The longer we procrastinate, the worse the task seems.
If you are afraid to do something or start something and you do it anyway, you will be surprised at how easy it was.
Don’t wait until you feel like doing something. Don’t wait until you’re motivated. Act first and the motivation will come.
Listening to motivating audio while you’re getting stuff done is a great idea and it works, but you shouldn’t be listening to 3 hours of motivational speakers, just to build up the courage to finish the task at hand.
Motivation is nice, but it’s also highly overrated. If you think you’re going to be motivated to everything you have to do, when you have to do it, you will be disappointed.
Don’t wait until you want to do it, do it now because you know you need to.
One of the Best Kept Secrets About Discipline
When I first started writing finance and productivity articles, I noticed that I would get up each morning, at 5am and write for an hour…sometimes longer.
Never in my life have I consistently been able to wake up that early and do one task for that long. What was going here? It’s simply this:
You are more likely to consistently practice self discipline in the areas that you are the most passionate about.
That’s it. If you’re having a really hard time with discipline, you may be doing the wrongs things. And this applies to every single area of life. Think about it…
- Exercise: If you can’t get your butt out of bed to go run every morning, maybe you just don’t like running. Try biking, swimming or possibly even taking a class like yoga, spinning or martial arts.
- Work: If you despise waking up each morning to go in to work, maybe you’re in the wrong career. We only have one life…why spend it doing something you hate? It may require drastic changes, but it’s doable.
- Learning: If you want to be a reader, but can never actually make yourself read, try a different format, like audio or video. Or maybe you’re just reading the wrong books. Choose your learning based on your main interests.
It all comes down to just doing it, but when you pick things that you actually want to do, it gets a lot easier and you’re more likely to actually do this stuff.
Stop making excuses, but make it easier on yourself. If you want to do something, don’t make it an option, just get it done. Remove as many temptations as you can, but understand that you’ll always have some sort of temptation.
Finally, just as you should reward yourself for accomplishing your goals, you also have to forgive yourself when you miss the mark.
Be sure to also read:
- How to Create More Self Discipline in Your Life
- How to Create Good Habits (And Stick With Them)
- How to Create a New Habit (Even if You’re “Too Busy”)
- Do You Really Have to Practice New Habits Every Day for Them to Stick?