We often admire people who accomplish great things, conveniently overlooking the hard work and discipline they have put into refining their craft.
Take Gary Vaynerchuk for example. We first heard of him when he created the Wine Library. He was lucky wasn’t he? Being in the right niche at the right time? Well, that’s a simplistic way of looking at things. Because for over a decade he learned everything there was to learn about wine.
He studied it, he researched the market, he dealt one on one with customers, he taste-tested thousands of brands, and he became a connoisseur. Wine library was not the result of luck, but of work and self-discipline.
Most of us want to succeed as entrepreneurs, but here’s a question for you (one that I’ve had to answer myself):
Are you ready to develop the self-discipline it takes to succeed?
Self-discipline cannot be acquired or instilled by another person. It’s something that you have to work on yourself.
Even with massive amounts of talent and skill, success cannot come if discipline is lacking.
So if you’re struggling with getting up in the morning and going for a run, or completing a desired project in a certain amount of time, this post is for you.
What is Self-Discipline?
Using the Merriam-Webster definition, self-discipline is the ‘correction or regulation of oneself for the sake of improvement.’
Self-discipline is the process by which you train yourself to carry out certain habits and actions that will help you attain your goals. This is certainly not the most attractive trait for people who hate rules and regulations, but it is vital for your wellbeing and success.
When you have the ability to fully control your words, thoughts, and actions, you operate like a well-oiled machine that will crush other undisciplined entrepreneurs along the way.
It’s not easy, I can attest to that. But the benefits are pretty amazing; self-confidence, self-respect, time management, and physical and mental wellbeing.
What’s Comfortable vs What’s Needed
Sleep is amazing. You’re basically lying down for hours without stress and worry (unless you’re an insomniac).
Getting up from restful sleep is extremely tough. If you’re anything like me, you’ll hit the snooze button a couple of times, ask yourself whether exercise is really necessary, convince yourself that you really need 1 more hour of sleep, and then try and drift off.
Well, this is pretty unacceptable. I wonder whether Sheryl Sandberg is procrastinating while I (a ‘maybe’ entrepreneur) refuse to wake up.
While it is easy and comfortable to stick to actions that don’t require any direction or regulation, what you actually need to do is hard and unappealing.
And when you continue making unsystematic decisions that lack discipline, the consequences add up. In the morning you hit the snooze button, in the afternoon you put off work, and in the evening you ditch a networking event so that you can meet up old friends.
How are you supposed to become the next Richard Branson with this routine?
The Power of Saying No
Saying NO is absolutely satisfying, but it is also extremely hard.
We have to value our time, and when we do, we’ll realize that we can’t give it freely to anyone who asks.
So if someone asks you to write a guest post for their blog and you know the return won’t be worth the effort you’ll put in, say NO. If someone asks you to review their business plan but you’re lobbying for endorsements from an established company, say NO.
Yes some people will call you a ‘meanie’ behind your back, but they’re probably living a mediocre life so don’t let it bother you.
Free up your time so that you can focus all your energy on important tasks. If you have surplus time you can do something frivolous, but spend your time building a business that you can be proud of.
The Self-Discipline Fairy
A quick search on Google revealed that the self-discipline fairy does not exist; a quick sorry to all those who got excited.
That means that the only way to develop top-tier self-discipline is to work on it day in, day out. Here are some steps that you can take to develop your self-discipline:
1. Schedule several tasks throughout the day, and create time limits for each task. You need to stick to these time limits like a fly to flypaper. If you haven’t completed a task by the time that it is done, finish it up the next day. If you find that you finish the task beforehand, make modifications to your schedule so that you aren’t left with excess time.
You should also note that your willpower is the strongest first thing in the morning. It’s why you blaze through work between 7 and 12, and then start skulking around the rest of the day. You should therefore start with your least enjoyable tasks, and get them out of the way (some people call this eating the frog).
2. The power of routine cannot be fully emphasized. As I mentioned above, you should schedule tasks for specific time periods and with strict limits. During your scheduling, include several tasks that you will carry out on a regular basis.
This includes exercising, praying, meditating, planning, studying, replying to emails, and reading.These regular tasks will eventually form a routine that you can carry out without thinking twice.
These regular tasks will eventually form a routine that you can carry out without thinking twice.
3. Study your role models and learn from their own incredible self-discipline. One incredible woman that I respect is Serena Williams. Every day from the time she was a child; Serena Williams has gotten up at 6am and begun practice.
Whether she is tired, moody, sick, fresh off a win, or fresh off a loss, practice is non-negotiable. This incredible discipline is what makes her unstoppable; it’s what makes her the best women’s tennis player of our time, and it’s what will make her the best of all time.Studying her routine
Studying her routine is therefore the perfect way to learn about self-discipline.
4. Stop procrastinating and start now. How many times have you said “I just don’t feel like it today”, or “once work has died down I can start creating a strict routine”?
If we wait until we feel like it, we’ll be waiting forever. It’s always tough to get started, but once we have we’ll develop a flow that is easy to sustain.
5. When it comes to self-discipline, your biggest enemy is yourself. Just like you won’t tolerate excuses from your suppliers, employees, or business partners, don’t tolerate your own excuses.
So when you start to procrastinate as we’ve discussed above, say NO. If you have trouble with this, find an accountability partner. This could be a friend, family member, a professional coach, or a group or forum of like minded people.
6. Deadlines have the ability to push us past our limits. It’s why kids in college will wait 1 month to get started on a dissertation, and then complete it the night before with incredible speed and focus.
When you’re accountable only to yourself, you’ll probably delay doing something important and then cry out a defense of ‘FLEXIBILITY.’
That’s why you need to create deadlines for even the smallest of tasks, so that you can get them over with instead of putting them off indefinitely.
7. Stay far away from toxic people, as they only want to spread their negativity. A toxic person will undermine your attempts and convince you that self-discipline is unnecessary. Cutting out people who are not adding anything to your life is therefore vital.
8. Similarly, you should cut out activities that don’t produce benefits. This includes TV, video games, magazines, and blogs (not mine) among other temptations and distractions. While you are allowed to take some time to catch up on your favorite TV show or play FIFA, eliminating them from your daily routine ensures that you aren’t wasting valuable time.
9. Exercise on a regular basis. This is something that I’m trying to do, as I’ve witnessed the incredible benefits of exercise for the human body; better sleep, improved moods, reduced anxiety levels, increased energy, developed immune system, reduced body fat, and enhanced resolution, resolve, and dedication.
10. Create clear and well-though out goals that you can stick to . When you know that you have to launch your product by April 15th, your actions will be directed to accomplishing this goal. This means that you won’t waste time on activities that are outside the launch.
Having a goal(s) helps you maintain your self-discipline.
As you can see, self-discipline is vital to success. Seeing as none of us are born with this ability, we need to spend our time, energy, and effort, trying to cultivate and maintain it.
It won’t be fun and it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. Soon enough you can bask in your success and have people tell you how ‘lucky’ you are that you just opened a third branch of your business.
Do the dog work no matter what, and don’t give up.
If you found this helpful, remember to share it with your friends and colleagues. Also drop me a comment and let me know how your journey of self-discipline is going. And if you would like new posts sent directly to your inbox, sign up for the newsletter in the sidebar.
Have a great week, and I’ll see you back here next Monday.