One of most important attributes to becoming successful is self-discipline. It’s almost impossible to achieve excellence without it. Self-discipline helps you stay focused; it gives you the gumption to stick with something even when it’s difficult. It helps you choose winning the long game over short term gratification. Self-discipline allows you to overcome obstacles and deal with the discomfort of pushing yourself to new heights. With enough self-discipline, you can form life-long, positive habits; once you form a habit, it no longer requires discipline and you propel yourself towards success because it’s what you do day in and day out.
What is self-discipline? Essentially, it’s the ability to control your impulses, emotions, reactions, and behaviors. It’s the ability to forego short term gratification in favor of long term satisfaction and gain. It’s basically saying no when you really want to say yes.
How does self-discipline lead to forming habits? If you do something over and over again, it eventually becomes a habit and once something a habit, life gets easier; you no longer need willpower to force yourself to do it. For example, last year one of my goals was to do more yoga. I made a commitment to do it 30 minutes every day for 30 days. I felt so much better that I continued for another 30 days which turned in 6 months, etc. Now I get up an hour earlier to start my day off with 60 minutes of yoga. I don’t have to set my alarm anymore and I do it EVERY day. If you would like more insight on how to use discipline to form habits, read the Power of Habit. It’s a fantastic book.
The word self-discipline makes most people shudder just uttering it but being self-disciplined isn’t about leading a restrictive and boring life void of enjoyment, relaxation, and fun. In fact, it’s next to impossible to be self-disciplined in all areas of your life and I don’t recommend it. Instead, you should use self-discipline to focus your energies on what’s most important to you. Let it help you make the tradeoff between the short and long term so that you make better choices. In the long run, you’ll be happier when you have formed habits that make your life better.
So how do you become more self-disciplined? Here are my tricks:
You are the master of your destiny, the creator of your life. If you want your destiny to look, be and feel a certain way, then you have to develop the discipline to form habits. Vigorous habits will help you get to where you want to be. While it seems counter intuitive, I have found that I am happier and healthier the more self-disciplined I become. I think you will find the same thing, too.
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You are a collection of all the stories you’ve told yourself. That’s right, your life is a work of fiction and you are the main character.
We all tell ourselves stories about the things that happen to us, the decisions we make, and why other people do the things they do. You make assumptions and then act upon those assumptions. That’s how you create your life; your stories become your reality. You wear your stories like a warm winter sweater because they give you comfort that you actually understand what’s happening around you. You do this because your brain can’t stand not understanding why something is happening. It is constantly looking for patterns, assigning cause and effect, then creating a narrative that you subsequently believe, even if you have no access to the actual truth. Psychologists and scientists call this the narrative bias. We couldn’t survive without it.
There’s good and bad news to consider when pondering your narrative.
First the bad news. If you create a story that is negative, inaccurate, or based on a lie you’ve been told or that you’ve told yourself, you could send yourself down a path that might lead to poor decisions, low self-esteem and needless suffering.
The good news is that you can create a different story. You can challenge your assumptions. You can think about the way you think. You can break down belief systems that hold you back. You can build upon the positive things that happen in your life. You can choose to let go and move on.
Even though your story might feel real and unchangeable, it isn’t. It doesn’t matter if you’re living a charmed life or one of struggle and despair. Your story isn’t real and it isn’t permanent.
So pick the one thing in your life you want to change or make happen and tell yourself a different story. One where you are progressing, succeeding and winning. Then start taking action to create that story. It doesn’t mean it’s easy; it just means it’s possible. Be willing to do the hard work.
I’ll leave you with this quote from Jordan Belfort, The Wolf of Wall Street. I am not saying you want his story (or maybe you do; he is very wealthy and everyone loves a comeback story) but it’s a statement worth keeping in mind.
“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.”
Thanks for reading,
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A Quick Blurb on what this blog is about.
Welcome to my blog! My name is Kerry Siggins and plain speaking, honest leadership is my mantra. My intention is to help those who lead (or want to lead) become better at saying and doing what needs to be said and done in a way that it can be heard and seen, one person at a time.