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Discipline: A Simple Plan for Cultivating a Crucial Habit

We all want more discipline than we have. Discipline requires dealing with discomfort, which is something we all instinctively avoid. However, all the amazing things you want to have and achieve will require at least a little discipline.

Without discipline, luck is your only other option. Luck is great when it happens, but it is a poor strategy. Discipline is a tremendous advantage to have.

Use these techniques to create the life you desire with discipline:

Practice dealing with discomfort. Discipline is uncomfortable because you’re either doing something that you don’t want to do right now or you’re avoiding doing something that you want to do right now. Neither one is as enjoyable in the moment as following your impulses.

  • When you feel discomfort, notice where you feel it in your body. Describe it to yourself. What does it feel like? Continue objectively observing it until it goes away. It will go away.

Examine your excuses. What are the excuses you give yourself for eating that ice cream, staying up late, skipping the gym, or not getting your work done? How do you justify your lack of discipline?

Choose your goal wisely. A highly meaningful goal is much more motivating than one you feel lukewarm about. You’ll do more and endure more to achieve a goal that means a lot to you. Life is too short to spend your time on anything less than goals that are spectacular to you.

Do it every day. Practice discipline each and every day. You can make yourself stare at the wall for 10 minutes. Make yourself sit up straight at work. See if you can actually work for 30 minutes without checking your email or phone.

  • There are plenty of opportunities to build your discipline muscles!

Reward your successes. When you successfully show a new level of discipline, give yourself a reward that doesn’t break the bank.

Do it earlier in the day. Discipline tends to be higher in the morning. Use that to your advantage if possible.

Have a plan for when you falter. What will you do when you start to slip? What is your plan when you have the urge to order a pizza, call your ex, or buy something you know you shouldn’t?

  • Will you call someone?

  • Go for a run?

  • Eat a carrot?

  • Take a nap?

  • Listen to your favorite song?

  • What are you going to do?

Slow progress is acceptable. A little progress each day is more than enough. Big changes rarely stick unless life and limb are at risk. Be thrilled with making consistent slow progress.

Focus on the action rather than the desired outcome. If you want to lose weight, the scale matters. However, it’s even more important to follow your diet day in and day out. It’s more important to keep saving part of your paycheck than to have a specific bank balance.

  • Keep doing the right things and the results are guaranteed.

We admire those people with high levels of discipline. We often associate discipline with elite soldiers or Buddhist monks, but most people can train to have just as much discipline as either of these groups. Remember that discipline simply means choosing the future you desire over the thing you desire in this moment.

Your level of discipline impacts the quality of your future. Are you willing to give up meaningless short-term pleasures for a great future? If so, you can have the future you desire.


Thank you for reading our blog!

- Mike Acker

Check out my new book on Public Speaking: Speak with Confidence, published by WILEY.

A breakthrough to develop confidence in speaking, leadership, and life. A follow-up book to my best-selling book, Speak with No Fear

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