Rock-Solid Discipline: 4 Secrets to Fully Committing and Getting Ahead
Did you make sure no one could see your screen before you clicked on a self-discipline article?
Discipline is a quality entrepreneurs take a lot of pride in, which means it’s also really uncomfortable to admit when we’re not showing up for our dreams the way we want to.
We’re supposed to be relentlessly driven, right? We’re supposed to be customer obsessed, work obsessed, and determined to succeed. Aren’t these qualities natural to every business owner?
Natural? Not always. Crucial? Absolutely. Possible to cultivate? One hundred percent. But here’s the problem:
It’s really tough to do the hard thing just for the sake of doing the hard thing. And that’s basically what we do when we exercise self-discipline. We choose the hard thing over the easy thing.
Again and again and again.
Why would we do that?
If your answer is something like, “Because you can’t succeed without discipline” or “Because my dad taught me about hard work,” you’ve probably found the reason why discipline is hard to build and maintain.
You haven’t given yourself a good enough reason to make the choice that sucks in the moment.
What you need is a mindset shift. Here are the four discipline secrets that are going to transform your concept of hard work and commitment for the better.
#1: Discipline is Not What You Think It Is
Discipline is the act of following through on your commitments to yourself.
That’s what it really is.
It’s not about what you prove to the world or to your family. It’s not about how virtuous you are or how much hardship you can stand. It’s not even the act of building a business… not at its core, anyway.
Discipline happens when you decide you’re going to do something and then you do it.
Why does it matter that you define discipline this way?
Because this definition shows you what’s really at stake. We tend to think that our failures at discipline feel bad because it betrays a lack of drive or sets us back in our careers. But really, the big loss here is the loss of our self-trust.
By not showing up for yourself, you tell yourself that you’re not reliable. Worse, you betray a lack of faith in your own ability to turn today’s unpleasant commitment into a better future.
But when you do follow through on your commitments to yourself, you affirm over and over again that you are worth your own investment.
Sure, it sucks waking up at 4:00 a.m. And it’s not even remotely fun to spend your afternoon hearing the word “no” eight times in a row as you make cold calls. And of course you’d rather be watching T.V. with your kids than working on a business plan.
But if you’re doing these miserable things, it must be because you know it’s all going to be worth it.
You know that if you give time, energy, and resources to your dream, you’re going to turn those gifts into the life you’ve always dreamed of.
When you nurture that kind of self-trust, nothing can stop you. But it’s still easier said than done. That’s why you need the next three tips.
#2: Know Why You’re Doing This
Motivation matters. And some vague idea about wanting to do what you’re “supposed” to do… that’s not adequate motivation.
Here are a few other so-called motivators that fall short when that early morning alarm goes off:
- The expectations of others
- Material things
If you want to be someone who consistently follows through, you have to know your Why.
Your Why is the desire that lies about ten layers deeper than your obvious goal. It’s connected to your sense of purpose, a longing for fulfillment. Your true Why is never a physical object, and if you don’t know what it is, start with your current goal and keep asking “why” until you can’t anymore. Like this:
“I want to improve my sales so I can make more revenue.”
“I want to be richer.”
“I want to be able to afford a bigger house in a better neighborhood and take my family on incredible vacations.”
“I want my family to feel safe, supported, and enjoy each other.”
“Nothing is more important to me than my family’s well-being and the time we spend together.”
When it’s time to make those dreaded cold calls, what do you think would motivate you more? The thought of having a bigger number in your bank account? Or the thought of having more time, freedom, and resources to share this one-and-only life with the people you love most?
#3: Forgive, Let Go, Start Again
Inevitably, your discipline will slip. Even with a solid Why and a true commitment to self-trust, there will be moments when you don’t show up for yourself.
And the worst thing you can do in those moments is beat yourself up about it.
When you get down on yourself, you internalize the belief that this is who you are. You’re unreliable. You’re undisciplined. One slip up becomes two, then three, then four.
But “undisciplined” is not who you are. Who you are is a limitless human being, capable of growth, just like everybody else. So grow.
Forgive yourself for the slip. Recommit. Show up.
#4: Start Small to Build Your Discipline Muscle
I saved this one for last, but it’s huge.
Don’t try to overhaul your life overnight.
Business owners do this all the time. They get inspired to turn a new leaf, try a new project, get in shape, double their revenue… in an insanely short period of time.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m all about big goals. But when you try to tackle a big goal all at once, you set yourself up to fail. It’s too much to sustain. Inevitably, you slip up, resent yourself for slipping up, and tell yourself that you’re either not disciplined enough or not capable of achieving that particular goal.
Neither of those things are true. You can do anything you want to do. You just have to train that discipline slowly, piece by piece.
Start with one new goal. If your larger objective is to take better care of your body so you have more energy on the job, hold off on the strict keto diet. Start with drinking a glass of water first thing every morning. Or bringing almonds to work as a snack instead of your afternoon Dr. Pepper.
Do one small thing every day for a few weeks. When that new commitment starts to feel easy and natural, you’re ready to make a slightly larger commitment. Soon, those healthy new habits will snowball, you’ll make rapid progress, and you’ll find you have more faith in your own discipline.
And—as I said—trust in yourself is the greatest benefit of cultivating discipline. Nothing will serve your life or your business more than your confidence in yourself as leader.
And believe me: you have every reason to be confident.
Further Resources on This Topic
Blog Post: How to Build Good Habits That Actually Stick
Free Video Course: Personal Development for Business Success