“Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power.”- Lao Tzu
There are many parallels between those who succeed in sport and those who succeed in business. In both worlds goal setting and planning are keys to success – and positive thinking is vital to ensure that self-belief is the order of every day. But there is one secret weapon that sets the winners apart from those who fall short of their true potential – and that is the sheer power of self-discipline. Without it, it is all too easy to lose your focus and be easily distracted from your goal.
How many times do most people attempt to achieve a goal before giving up? Would you guess 1, 2 or 3? The real answer is more likely to be 0.5. The majority of people give up before they even try. Self-discipline is a hard-won habit that will tune up your brain for focused action, even when you would prefer to be doing something else. Strengthening your capacity for self-discipline is like building a personal investment fund for future success. Becoming more self-disciplined today will help you to deliver greater and more positive results tomorrow. In my experience, it is the core trait that sets successful people apart in every field of endeavour. It’s all about what are you prepared to do to get the outcome you desire. Without it, nothing will ever happen and nothing will ever change. Those who are willing to use their time wisely, as well as putting in the hours and the effort, are more likely to achieve their goals – on time, and ahead of the competition.
Self-discipline is easier to maintain when it is a habit. It is similar to building a fit body. You have to do it today, tomorrow, every day. Perseverance is the key. Build your self-discipline muscle, daily. Watch your attitude to food, exercise, watching TV, using social media, playing computer games and so on. Be honest with yourself – what die-hard habits are taking you off-track? What changes in your approach will make the most difference to your success?
Ask these questions to yourself and you will realize what is it that is stopping you from moving ahead.
- Do you leap out of bed with determination to get on with the day, or do start the day with a delay, by hitting the snooze button?
- Do you eat only when you are hungry, or do you ‘treat yourself’ to snacks throughout the day? Do you enjoy a dessert or a glass of beer out of habit rather than choice?
- Are you the kind of person who is punctual, who manages their time carefully and plans ahead? Or are you undermining your professional reputation with a frequent apologies and excuses for being late?
- Are you a spender or a saver? Do you spend first and worry about the money afterwards, or do you always save up for what you want?
By becoming more self-aware you can observe and choose to modify your behaviour. By matching your desires to the actions you need to take to make your dream a reality, you can apply the self-discipline required to make your future a certainty. It is always possible to be more self-disciplined in your choices and more efficient with use of time.
The evidence doesn’t lie. Self-discipline creates self-reliance, which feeds self-confidence. If you know you can rely on yourself to deliver results, you are more likely to aim high because you know from experience that you can and will achieve your ambitions.
Stay on course. Self-discipline goes hand in hand with effective planning and time management. It ensures you are in the driver’s seat, leading the action, rather than reacting to others’ demands. If you know what you are doing, and when and why you are doing it, you will be less likely to get taken off track.
Don’t just list it – Do it! Self-disciplined people have a long-term plan that sets out their goals and ambitions, supported by a short-term plan in the form of a daily ‘Do It!’ list. If you create a plan and stick to it, you will achieve more, more efficiently, and create more hours in each working day.
Walk tall. Being self-disciplined sends a clear message to others that you can be relied upon. You will attract like-minded people to do business with you and to work with you.
Make a habit. A habit of self-disciplined approach to life enables your auto-pilot to take over on those occasions when the going gets tough.
Those who have the self-discipline habit put the needs of the goal ahead of other tempting diversions. Instead of ‘pressing the pause button’ to question whether they want to do something, self-disciplined people are more likely to just get on with it! A self-disciplined approach delivers improved performance and successful results.