Everyone has ambitions and goals they hope to one day achieve. Not everyone knows how to bring them to life. Translating your dreams into reality takes a variety of skills and a certain attitude. While it might seem that this is reserved for only a special few and that you must be incredibly lucky in order to see your goals through to the end, this is not the case. Anyone can develop the necessary skills to achieve their full potential. The most important of these is discipline since it feeds into learning all other skills. Keep reading to find out more about how to improve your discipline to reach success.
Discipline or Motivation?
Many driven people are fuelled by a strong motivation that pushes them in the direction of their goals. This motivation could come in a variety of forms, such as a desire to live a particular lifestyle, provide for your family, or make a name for yourself as an influential person. No matter how compelling your motivational reasons may be, relying upon them to encourage your actions even at your low points will not be enough to achieve success. Motivation is useful and important, but even more important is discipline. When you rely upon discipline rather than motivation, you are much more likely to continue working towards your goal. This is because discipline means you will have embedded these processes into your routine, whereas motivation alone often causes a person to wait for inspiration to strike before action can be taken. With strong discipline, you will be less likely to pause your progress when the going gets tough.
How to Cultivate Discipline from Scratch
Depending on your own personal temperament, upbringing, and experiences, you might already be quite disciplined in life. You might also find that, when trying to make progress in a certain direction, you notice yourself relying upon inspiration and motivation for encouragement. When these two occasionally lapse, discipline can be there to keep you going. Here are a few ways you can start practicing better discipline:
- Try something small at first. This could be a simple task, such as cleaning the dishes. If you know that the task will take less than five minutes to complete, do it immediately. This way, you prevent procrastination.
- Delay gratification. This step takes a lot of patience and practice since most people are accustomed to satisfying their needs within a short space of time. When you feel a pang of hunger, don’t instantly give in to the temptation to get a snack. Finish whatever you are doing and make yourself wait.
- Reduce friction for boring or unappealing tasks. There are certain jobs that nobody enjoys but must be done anyway. If you don’t like sweeping the floor, make it easier for the job to start by putting the broom somewhere visible. The visual reminder and the fact that you don’t have to go and retrieve the broom reduces the friction ahead of the task.
Specify Your Aims
Discipline without an aim can result in a needlessly strict lifestyle. Use your discipline for positive change in your life, such as pursuing success and simplifying your worries. For example, if you want to become a teacher, break down your goal into actionable steps such as applying for online masters programs in education. By outlining your goals to yourself, you will be better able to pinpoint areas for progress and advancement.
Define Your Idea of Success
When you are using discipline to work toward success, you will first need to know precisely what your idea of success looks like. Success is different for everyone, and what you feel is merely a milestone might be the ultimate goal for someone else. Be clear and honest with yourself about what you want to achieve so you can focus your efforts accordingly. Vague notions of advancing without direction or purpose won’t get you very far. Since discipline is often about building habits, you must know which habits are best suited to pursuing your specific goals. This is discovered by outlining how you view your future success.
Develop Healthy Habits
As mentioned above, habits play a vital role in developing strong and reliable discipline. By connecting your habits, routine, and way of solving problems, you can build up a solid foundation from which you can work toward achieving success. Of course, this is easier said than done since breaking bad habits and incorporating new ones into your life takes a lot of effort. If you want to retrain your mind with new habits, you can:
- Attach a new habit to an existing one. For example, if your goal is to become more conversant in politics, then attach the habit of listening to a political podcast while you go for your run or make your breakfast.
- Maintain a growth mindset. This means that instead of pessimistically believing that your abilities are unchangeable, know that you can learn and grow when you put in the effort.
- Examine why you aren’t already practicing the habits you wish you were. If you can figure out the reason for not having started this habit already, you are in a better position to remove that obstacle and introduce the desired habit effectively.
When you start to gain momentum as someone who practices regular discipline, you might feel that it works so well you can’t let up. However, the importance of meaningful breaks cannot be overstated. Meaningful breaks involve taking the time to properly relax your mind and body rather than simply scrolling on your phone while working. Build these breaks into your disciplined routine if you have to. It’s also important to celebrate whenever you reach a milestone that leads toward your goal. This reinforces to your subconscious mind that hard work and discipline are rewarding, not painful. When you reach an important milestone, reward your efforts with a meaningful break.
Now that you have the tools and information to develop a strong sense of discipline within yourself, you can set your goals and achieve success.