8 Ways To Cultivate More Discipline In My Life
One thing that I've really tried working on is improving my discipline. I'm disciplined in some areas of my life, and lacking in discipline in others. Discipline is the difference between someone who is unemployed and someone who is a Vice President at a thriving company. It's the difference between a profitable business and a startup that's on the road to nowhere. Below are some ideas for how to cultivate more discipline in my life.
Ideas/Credit to Brent Gleeson. Yes....another Navy SEAL discussing leadership. I know. But the fact remains: they're good at leadership and they're good at building strong mindsets.
1. Break bigger goals into smaller, more manageable goals.
Everyone, including myself, wants to be a millionaire with a beautiful spouse, kids, perfect health, etc. overnight. Unfortunately, this is not reality. If we always compare ourselves to an impossible standard, we'll get discouraged, overwhelmed with our seemingly lack of progress, and we won't be satisfied with the smaller goals we hit along the way.
On a long, frustrating job search? Don't expect to get a VP level opportunity in the first couple of months. Are you starting a business? You probably shouldn't compare yourself to Mark Zuckerberg. Just beginning your fitness journey? Don't compare yourself to Olympic athletes. Learn from them what you can, but don't hold yourself to impossible, unrealistic standards.
"How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time."
2. Surround myself with people that are more disciplined than I am.
When I spend time with smart people, I become smarter. When I spend time with organized people, I become more organized. When I spend time with stupid people, I become stupid.
I've befriended several black belts in an effort to learn from them and hopefully, become more disciplined.
3. Self Awareness: Know your strengths and weaknesses
We all have weaknesses: alcohol, tobacco, drugs, porn, unhealthy food, etc. One weakness that I have is that I'm messy. I grew up in a messy home (my grandparents and my parents could be considered hoarders) and I think that this disorganization has leaked into other aspects of my life. Smart people say that delegating the things that we're not good at is a vital skill to have. I've looked into hiring a cleaning service to help with this, but they're not cheap.
Too often people either try to pretend their vulnerabilities don’t exist or they succumb to them with a fixed mindset, throwing their hands up in defeat and saying, “Oh well.” Know your strengths, but more importantly, own up to your flaws. You can’t overcome them until you do.
4. Remove temptations.
If you want to eat healthier, get rid of the chips and soda from your home. Tired of the beer belly and the hangovers? Get rid of the booze. Want to become more productive at work? Turn off your cell phone and manage your to do list.
5. Change your belief about willpower.
If you believe you have a limited amount of willpower, you probably won’t surpass those limits. As I mentioned previously, studies show that willpower can deplete over time. But what about changing that perception? The person who believes they probably won’t achieve their goal won’t succeed. Why assume our will to win can only take us so far?
When we embrace the mindset of unlimited willpower, we continue to grow, achieve more, and develop mental toughness. It’s the same philosophy as setting “stretch” goals. In short, our internal conceptions about willpower and self-control can determine how disciplined we are. If you can remove these subconscious obstacles and truly believe you can do it, then you will give yourself an extra boost of motivation toward making those goals a reality.
6. Practice daily diligence.
We aren’t born with self-discipline; it’s a learned behavior. And just like any other skill you want to master, it requires daily practice and repetition. It must become habitual. But the effort and focus that self-discipline requires can be draining. As time passes, it can become more and more difficult to keep your willpower in check. The bigger the temptation or decision, the more challenging it can feel to tackle other tasks that also require self-control.
So, work on building your self-discipline through daily diligence in a given area associated with a goal. This goes back to step three. In order to practice daily diligence, you must have a plan. Put it on your calendar, your to-do list, tattoo it on the back of your eyelids - whatever works best for you. With practice, anyone can push the boundaries of their comfort zone every day.
7. Give yourself a backup plan.
The best leaders always have contingency plans. Psychologists use a technique to boost willpower called “implementation intention.” That’s when you give yourself a plan to deal with a potentially difficult situation you know you will likely face. To be clear, I am not referring to a backup plan under the auspices that you’ll probably fail at Plan A.
Let’s say you aspire to become a trapeze expert, but tell yourself, “Well, I’m probably not going to excel at this, so chances are I’ll be sticking with miniature golf.” That’s a lame backup plan wrapped in mediocrity. We are talking about contingencies for intentional course correction, not planning for failure. So be bold and keep moving forward. Going in with a plan will help give you the mindset and self-control necessary for the situation. You will also save energy by not having to make a sudden decision based on your emotional state.
8. Forgive yourself and move forward.
Even with all our best intentions and well laid plans, we sometimes fall short. It happens. You will have ups and downs, great successes and dismal failures. The key is to keep going. A very close SEAL buddy of mine has had a lifelong dream of not just serving in the SEAL Teams but also making it to our tier one special missions unit. He has every qualification this unit could possibly want, but for some reason they didn’t select him on his first application attempt. Did he wallow in sorrow? Not for one second. He immediately developed a plan to request even more “schools,” train even harder, and he transferred to a different SEAL Team for a better chance to get picked up next time. Easy day.
If you stumble, find the root cause by asking the five WHY’s and move on. Don’t let yourself get wrapped up in guilt, anger, or frustration, because these emotions will only drag you further down and impede future progress.
Learn from your missteps and forgive yourself. Then get your head back in the game and violently execute. Good luck!