Discipline. It’s one of those things we all claim to want, but at the end of the day, we end up reverting to our old habits. We end up falling short of our goals. What is the key to staying on task? Thinking bigger picture!
How do people get up at 5 or 6 every morning? Is it because they are just “morning people?” How does someone say no to sugar when they decide to eat better? Is it because they just no longer like sugar? How does someone stay with a project for months, or even years, continuing to work on it before they see results? Is it because they just have nothing else to do?
It can be easy to see someone succeeding at something and to simply say “Oh, they must have a special power, or something.” The truth is that they don’t have anything more than you do, except practice and a long-term picture.
So, how do you get from where you are today to that person who is disciplined, dedicated, and motivated? I will warn you that there is a fairly simple answer, but not an easy one, or one that is a magic pill where suddenly your brain never wants anything but success. It is a conscious effort that you have to make daily.
Becoming disciplined starts with recognizing that you always do what you want. If you sleep late, then what you really want to do is sleep more than getting up early. If you eat donuts instead of just nuts, then you really want the donut more than you want to be healthy. Unless you are willing to admit that you don’t do anything you don’t want to do, you won’t take responsibility and you will see yourself as a helpless victim. You will sabotage your own success because you will tell yourself “I really want to be healthy, but I just CAN’T resist this donut.” When you admit that you wanted the donut most, you can decide that you have control over what you want, and you can change it if you don’t like it. When you take responsibility, you give yourself power to be in charge. Now you can use that power. This is probably the hardest part of change which leads to success.
Discipline is simply a result of taking charge of your choices, and making the choices that give you what you really want. As I was working at building my morning routine and getting up early every day, I saw that if I didn’t have something specific that I was going to do when I got up, I struggled to get out of bed when I thought I wanted to, and some days I slept in. I had to decide the night before when I went to bed what specifically I was going to do when I got up the next morning. That way when I woke up I would tell myself, “If I get up and do this task, then I can go back to bed,” knowing that if I could get myself out of bed, and open my computer to write, or to read, that I would be winning the hardest part of the battle: getting out of bed. Not getting out of getting up by reasoning with myself why I needed more sleep. Then once I was up, I would rarely go back to bed. It wasn’t that hard to stay up, because I had already committed to an action and didn’t want to lose my progress.
The key to this equation is reminding yourself of what you are gaining by following through on the choice you have already made. Remind yourself of what you’re trying to do, and how that will make you feel versus how you feel when you fail. If you are trying to lose weight and find yourself tempted by ice cream, remind yourself of how you will feel tonight if you give in, even though you want to in that moment. How will you feel tomorrow, or next week, when you haven’t been able to meet your weight loss goal? Is having an ice cream cone now really worth the feeling of failure you’ll have when you look back on today? Think about the difference in cost; it’s just not worth it. It would be like taking $100 bribe from someone to lose a game so you can buy an Xbox, and not caring that it could ruin your career in sports.
Think beyond your current moment. That is what discipline is. It isn’t some magical power that a chosen few have obtained. Discipline is making it through this moment by reminding yourself of what your actions will add up to if you do them for a week, a month, or a year, and basing your choices on that. If the choices you make today produce the only results you are allowed to experience for the next year, what choices would you make today? Would you work harder at your job? Would you make it a priority to work out today? Would you skip the burger and soda and instead save your money and eat at home? That’s discipline.
You have the power to choose. You are not a victim of your circumstances. What you do today creates your tomorrow. No one can tell you what kind of success your discipline can create. It’s up to you! Now what are you going to do about it?
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