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6 Powerful Ways to Build Unbreakable Self-Discipline

6 Powerful Ways to Build Unbreakable Self-Discipline

If you look at your life right now, what is the reason you are not as successful, happy, or healthy as you could be at this point in your life?

Apart from many excuses, there is probably just one simple reason: Lack of self-discipline. You simply don’t do what you need to do to enjoy the levels of success you want. If you think about it, what does it really take for you to be successful in all areas of your life? Chances are, it’s no secret. Everybody knows what it takes to get in shape, but how many people are? Everyone knows what to do to perform better at their job, but how many people still don’t do it? Everyone knows which foods to avoid and which ones to eat, but most people still don’t do that, either.

In short, all the knowledge in the world is worth nothing if you don’t possess the self-discipline to use that knowledge. Elbert Hubbard defined self-discipline as “the ability to do what you have to do, when you have to do it, whether you feel like it or not.” It is the one skill that is necessary above anything else to succeed in any endeavour.

Success in life comes from the actions you take on a consistent basis; and only self-discipline allows you to do that.

Here are 6 powerful ways to build unbreakable self-discipline:

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1. “If it’s to be, it’s up to me.” – William Johnson

No matter what your goals are in life, there is one great law that you need to obey in order to be successful: No one else is going to climb the ladder of success for you. No one else is responsible for your health, wealth, happiness, or success. From the day you leave your parents’ house and start to make your own choices, you are responsible for your life and the choices you make. You choose the job you work in, the person you live with, and how much you exercise every day. Only you can choose how you spend your time, and the decisions you make on a consistent basis will make or break your life.

If you want a better life, you need to make better decisions. You can blame other people for your lack of results or happiness all life long, but it doesn’t change anything. Only you can change your life by changing the choices you make. Take responsibility for everything in your life, even if you can’t directly influence it. Even if it’s not in your direct control, you can always choose how you respond.

2. The Big Enemy of Success

According to motivational speaker Brian Tracy, the biggest enemy to success is the path of least resistance. If you choose what is fun and easy over what is necessary, you will never reach the levels of success and happiness you are capable of achieving in your life. That’s because every great victory requires great sacrifice. If success was easy, everybody would be successful. But because success in any area of your life requires hard work and sacrifices, most people will never reach their full potential.

Whenever you decide not to what you should be doing, you not only waste your opportunity to grow as a person, but you also lose confidence in yourself. You start to see yourself as lazy and unsuccessful, and that self-image will become a successful prophecy.

To achieve any goal you have, there are only three things you need: A clear vision for what it is you want, a plan to get there, and massive action consistently repeated over time! While the first two parts are the easy parts of the equation, most people struggle with the last part: Hard work.

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There is nothing that you can’t achieve with hard work, so it is necessary that you build the habit of choosing what is hard and necessary over what is fun and easy to do. Doing this is probably the surest way to succeed in life.

3. Think Longterm

To quote Abraham Lincoln, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” If you ever wonder where you will be 10 years from now, look at your current life. What actions are you taking to make your goals reality? How many books are you reading to grow as a person, and how many new things are you learning? Which people are you associating with? Are you putting in the effort necessary to achieve your goals today?

People oftentimes think that their lives will suddenly change through some magical event in the future, but that is not the case. Your life changes only to the extent that you change. If you are not happy with your current circumstances, are you taking actions to change them? If not, you are just daydreaming. Nothing will ever change if you don’t change what you do daily. As Aristotle noted over 2000 years ago, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”

A great way to actively create your future is to ask yourself: If I already achieved my goals, how would I act on a daily basis? What books would I read, how often would I work out, and how would I spend my time at the office?

Once you answer these questions, you know what to do. Act as if you were already successful.

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4. Obstacles are Part of Success

In life, nothing worth having comes easy. You have to make sacrifices in the form of time, effort, pain, and hard work if you want to succeed. There will be many setbacks, and any time you get close to finally succeeding, there will be some more adversity testing how bad you really want it. Only after passing one more test, and then another, will you be able to succeed.

The great tragedy of life is that most people give up right before achieving success. They already made it to the five yard line, and all they need is one final push to make the touchdown and bring home the sweet victory. But right before they do that, there is one final obstacle standing in their way – one last failure that they need to overcome. Way too many people give up right then and there, without realizing how close they are.

If you just take one thing from this post, let is be this: Whenever you encounter failure and adversity, keep going! Success is supposed to be hard because that’s what makes it so special. If it was easy, anybody could do it. But it’s hard, and that’s your chance to separate yourself from the people that don’t want it as bad as you.

The only way to grow as a person is by facing the biggest challenges in life and enduring long enough to succeed. No matter how long it takes or how hard it gets, always remember the words of motivational speaker Les Brown: “It’s not over until I win!”

5. Rewrite Your Goals Every Day

To maximize your self-discipline every day, it is necessary that you keep the bigger picture in mind. Only by remembering why you do what you do will you take the necessary actions and follow through even if it gets hard. After all, you don’t just work so hard for no reason. You have specific goals that you want to achieve that make all the effort worth it.

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As Nietzsche said, “He who has a ‘why’ to live for, can bear almost any ‘how.'” I believe this to be absolutely true. If you know what you want to do, and you have enough reasons to do it, you will do whatever it takes.

The problem is, we tend to get so caught up in working and achieving our goals that we forget why we started in the first place. We forget why we do what we do and instead get overwhelmed by a seemingly endless to-do list. No wonder that most people seem so unexcited and even bored with life – they have no goals to strive for!

The easiest way to counter this problem is by rewriting your goals every day and imagining the future as you want it. Every morning after waking up, write down the most important goals you have for your life. This will not only immediately get you motivated and excited, but also crystal clear on what you need to do to succeed. Only when you are focused on your goals and your vision for your life are you able to make decisions that contribute to those goals.

6. Decide in Advance That You Will Never Give Up

To make sure that you stay strong in the face of adversity, make sure to resolve in advance how you will respond once it occurs. You need to have a plan for what to do when all hell breaks loose, or else it is too easy to just give up. When writing your goals, commit to making them come true, no matter how hard it may be. Determine how you will respond to failures and setbacks so you can bounce back stronger and better than ever before.

If you make this commitment and never break it, you will succeed at anything you set your mind to. Maybe not immediately, but definitely.

Featured photo credit: Jack Moreh via freerangestock.com

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Max Weigand

Founder of Secrets 2 Greatness

6 Powerful Ways to Build Unbreakable Self-Discipline

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Last Updated on June 18, 2019

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Making Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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