How To Build Discipline
One of the most reliable qualities for success-minded freelancers, entrepreneurs, and business owners is discipline. If you possess it, discipline will pick you up when the chips are down. It will stand by your side in good times and bad. It will help you move the needle forward day in and day out regardless of how you are feeling.
But how do you build your discipline? How do you transform yourself into an even-minded, forward facing success seeker? That’s exactly what we’ll take a look at in this post.
Accept that discipline is built, not bred.
For starters, it helps to think of discipline as akin to a muscle. It’s not something you are born with. And it’s not something you can just pick up overnight.
Instead, self-discipline is earned through making the right decisions over and over again until they become a habit. The more you exercise your discipline, the stronger it becomes. And, just like a muscle, once you build it up, it’s not going to weaken overnight either.
Adopt the right mindset.
When it comes to learning how to build discipline, what you are really striving to do is store up your reserves of willpower. Research has shown that a person’s willpower is sort of like a form of mental fuel. When it’s burned out, we have difficulty making the right decisions.
But, we can also increase the size of our fuel tanks. And science has shown that a major factor in how far we can grow our willpower is our own perception of our ability to do so.
In other words, if you believe that you are capable of becoming more disciplined, then it will be easier for you to do so. So one of the first steps is to tell yourself, “You can do this!”
Know your own shortcomings.
A large part of better understanding how to build discipline is identifying the hurdles that will challenge it. If you know you have a weakness for sweets, then they will drain your willpower. If you know that you can be sucked into social media for hours, then it will hinder your efforts to become more self-disciplined.
Take some time to determine what your weaknesses are. What drains your willpower, taxes your energy, distracts your attention, or increases your stress?
Once you’ve identified the things that will hinder your self mastery, it’s time to get them out of the way as much as possible. Remove the temptations ahead of time so that you don’t have to spend your precious willpower to fight them off in the future.
Empty your house of the junk food. Delete the apps off your phone. Put your alarm clock across the room so that you have to get out of bed in the morning. Do whatever it takes (within reason) to give yourself the best bet of avoiding obstacles rather than tripping on them.
Set goals and track your progress.
Just like learning any new skill, you’ll better succeed at building discipline if you have a clear target in mind.
If you are trying to create a solid morning routine, for example, you may decide that your goal is to wake up at 5:00 AM and spend 15 minutes meditating for 30 days straight. Or, if you are trying to build discipline regarding your diet, you may set a goal of not eating fast food for six weeks in a row.
Whatever areas of your life you want to build discipline in, set yourself concrete goal posts and then measure your progress regularly. Tracking your progress has two significant effects: (1) It helps you revel in your victories, and (2) it allows you to correct your course along the way.
Take baby steps.
Remember that willpower is a finite resource. No matter what sort of superhuman you believe yourself to be, everyone will reach their limit eventually. So avoid trying to build too much discipline in too many areas of your life and business at once.
Take New Year’s resolutions, for example. Rather than starting the new year off with 12 goals that you are going to start working on January 1st, it would be much better to start with one goal and add a new one in each month. You’ll be less likely to burn out and more likely to see significant progress in all of your goals.
Choose difficult paths mindfully.
One of the reasons that people lack discipline is because they routinely choose the path of least resistance. When their willpower is tested, then, they are so used to avoiding difficult choices that their mind doesn’t know how to respond to the test. They fall back on the easiest, least harmful option.
You can counteract this inborn nature by making conscious, mindful decisions to take the difficult path. If you make a habit out of challenging yourself on your terms, you’ll be better equipped to stand up to challenges when they catch you off guard.
You can probably think of plenty of difficult paths to take mindfully in your life, but here are a few ideas:
- Choose the stairs over the elevator.
- Skip out on dessert.
- Set the thermostat a few degrees in the more uncomfortable direction.
- Volunteer your time or money to a charitable cause.
- Walk when you could drive.
- Park extra far away.
Develop healthy habits.
The great thing about willpower is that building it up in one facet of life will help you out in others. Studies have shown that your willpower reserves are universally applicable.
This is why a stressful day at work can affect your decision making skills all around. Things go bad during the day, and you don’t have the willpower leftover to resist the temptation to binge on food and Netflix when evening comes.
The flip side to this is that the more you develop any healthy habit, the more willpower you’ll store up for any situation life can throw at you. So building the discipline to eat healthy, exercise regularly, sleep well, or work efficiently will all help you achieve more success in life and business.