Do you consider yourself to be disciplined? Do you find it easy to follow through with plans, health goals, financial goals, or anything else you set yourself to do? I learned many years ago that being disciplined is the special tool that we need in order to be successful. Regardless of what you are trying to do and where you are at in life, you need to be disciplined if you want to see any results.
Do you want to know why? Because when you set a goal that you want to achieve, you will usually feel motivated at first and excited to see results, but guess what, results take time and you won’t always feel motivated. And that’s why, when motivation starts getting weak (it kind of goes in seasons), you will need the discipline to keep you on track and get you closer to your goals.
What is the purpose of discipline?
Have you ever tried to lose weight but when you went to check for results, you didn’t notice a huge difference so you stopped only to start again from square one a few months later? Have you ever worked so hard to grow your business, but even in spite of all your efforts, you still saw no or little growth so you just stopped working as hard? Let me share something with you, that you have probably heard so many times already, but it’s just the truth: you won’t feel motivated every day, and it’s not your motivation that makes you achieve your goals.
What makes successful people successful, is the fact that they never gave up, even when they wanted to, when they worked so hard but the progress was so little, even when they thought it didn’t make sense to keep going. They kept going anyway, because they had developed self-discipline, because they knew that if they just kept going, eventually the results would have arrived. And of course, they did.
Before I go on to tell you a personal story, I suggest you check out my post where I share with you my #1 secret to achieve your goals – spoiler alert: it’s discipline’s best friend!
I’ve always been very driven, always had a to-do list on my hand, and always wanted to achieve my goals. Through first-hand experience, I learned that whenever I failed at something or didn’t do as well as I wanted to, 90% of the time was because I hadn’t been disciplined enough. I’ll stick to the examples of health and wellness just because I’m really passionate about it, but you can apply the same concept to any area of your life.
I’ve been yo-yo dieting since I was 13 (which affected me to a whole other level but it’s not what I’m talking about today). I’ll turn 25 this year and though I have finally learned to accept and love myself, the journey wasn’t easy and I failed many times. I can tell you that every single time I failed in this area, was because I hadn’t been disciplined enough. I’d follow a very strict diet and do well for a while, and then I’d just get tired if I wasn’t seeing results quickly enough, so I’d go back to overeating because “the diet hadn’t worked anyway”. When I finally changed my mindset, I understood first of all that I didn’t need another yo-yo diet but a change in my lifestyle, and since being healthy and aging well is one of my goals, I needed to be consistent and disciplined even when I wasn’t feeling like it.
If you are still with me, I want to say that being disciplined is also linked to being patient and remaining focused on your goals. If you want to know more about how to set your goals and stick to them, check out my post.
Another example I can give you is exercising. In case you don’t know me, you should know I DO NOT enjoy working out. I enjoy the feeling afterward, but not getting into workout clothes and staying there from 30 minutes to an hour feeling pain in every part of my body. I’ve always lacked discipline in this area unless I made a financial commitment or had an accountability partner, and therefore I didn’t see results, so I always gave up eventually. I’m also really good at making excuses like “I’m so tired today it’s been a very long day so I should rest”, (though I’m actually not that tired, just lazy). Or I would say all the time that I don’t have time to exercise because I’m so busy and whilst that is true, it is also true that if I really wanted to do it I would make time for it.
When the lockdown began, this excuse wasn’t even valid anymore cause I had PLENTY of time, so I reminded myself again of why exercising is important and how good I feel after, and I can proudly say I’ve been working out 5 days out of 7 since.
How do you keep yourself disciplined?
Here are a few things I started to do when I decided I was determined to be disciplined in every area of my life, and you can try them too:
1. KEEP YOUR GOALS WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM
Have you ever heard of vision boards? They are a visual way to show your goals, where you would like to be in a certain period of time, and what you would like to achieve by a specific deadline. I haven’t done that yet physically – though I have created my vision board on Pinterest, so I usually just write a simple list of my goals (yearly, weekly, or very specific to a certain period of my life) and keep it where I can easily see it. Sometimes I’ll write even more than one and put it in different places, or type it on my phone too so that I always have it with me no matter where I am. So when I don’t feel like doing the task required to get closer to my goal, I practice discipline, look at my list and get to work.
2. MAKE A FINANCIAL INVESTMENT
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like wasting my money. So if I want to achieve something that I know will take some time and effort, I purchase something related to it. Do I want to learn a new skill? I buy an online course or a book. Do I want to be fit and healthy? I buy a whole set of home gym equipment. That way, when I don’t feel motivated to do what I’m supposed to do, I’m reminded of the money I spent and I will choose to be disciplined because I know I’m getting a step closer to my goals and I didn’t just spend my money on something I will never use.
3. REMIND YOURSELF OF HOW YOU FEEL AFTER YOU DO THAT THING THAT YOU’RE LACKING THE DISCIPLINE TO DO
For example, as I mentioned before, I don’t like exercising but I do love the feeling after I’m done. So when I don’t feel like exercising, I remind myself of all the good feelings that come after a workout, and it’s usually not long until I’m doing my squats and getting in my daily sweat. The same is valid for when I would get a good grade in school, or have a pay rise at my job, or get a new client after hustling hard for it.
4. REMEMBER YOUR WHY
This is not the same as having a vision board – though they are tied together in a way. Your why is usually a word or short sentence, which explains the main reason why you do what you do. Personally, my why is to create for myself a life that I love, having the freedom to spend time with my family and loved ones, and making an impact in this world. So whenever my motivation is low and I’m about to procrastinate on my goals, I quickly remind myself of my why. Some common “why’s” are looking after a family member, providing the best life for your children, being healthy, and building financial freedom. But there are so many other reasons, so unique for each one of us, so whenever you are feeling discouraged because you’re not “there yet”, remember you’re doing it for a bigger purpose, and keep pushing.
5. SET YOURSELF SOME MINI-CHALLENGES AND REWARD YOURSELF
Parents will know that this is really the secret to when you are raising children – 5 years of experience as a nanny, and it always worked wonders for me. When you want to teach children to not give up even though the task seems difficult, or when you want them to do something even though they reeeeally don’t want to, this step right here is one of the very few things that make them get things done.
So if it works perfectly well for them, what makes you think it won’t work for you?
If you are overwhelmed or not very motivated, but you still want to keep going, just create some sort of challenge for yourself, where every day you will have to do something -even if it seems small- to get there. And once you do get there, reward yourself! You worked for it, you earned it, and it’s certainly boosted your motivation and confidence.
What are the benefits of self-discipline?
I would say there are too many to be listed here because I genuinely believe that self-discipline is a superpower! It’s like a muscle that needs to be strengthened, but when you do, you will be invincible – and don’t be fooled, many people stop way before with their progress simply because they do not want to go through a little pain to get there. So let me list a few of the key benefits of self-discipline.
1. YOU WILL ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS
This is definitely the most obvious thing, but it is absolutely true that if you develop self-discipline in your life, you will ultimately achieve your goals. Even when you don’t feel motivated or when it’s easy to give up because you’re not getting the results you want, if you keep at it long enough, you will succeed.
2. YOU WILL GROW AND BECOME A BETTER PERSON
I don’t know about you, but I’m a huge personal development junkie. I know that we hear this word a lot and there’s a lot of fluff around this topic, but to put it in simple terms, personal development helps you to grow and improve yourself. When you invest time to grow and become a better person, your relationships become better, your career becomes better, and most importantly your relationship with yourself gets better as well. Learning to cultivate self-discipline is something that will make you stronger and build certain skills that will come with you for your lifetime, and will definitely become an asset to you.
3. YOU BECOME STRONGER
Let me remind you of something: life throws many challenges at us. If you want to be able to overcome them, you will need to have something that makes you stronger, and self-discipline is part of the answer. When you learn to have better self-control, to keep going regardless of how motivated you feel, and to keep pushing no matter what the circumstances look like outside, you will be able to face whatever comes your way with a great attitude and to press on even when many around you have given up.
If you are afraid – or have a feeling – that there is something preventing you from being disciplined and achieving your goals, but these are such rooted habits in your life that you’re not even conscious you’re doing them, then I suggest you take a look at this post where I talk about 5 bad habits that you need to break today, and how to do it.
Final thoughts on why discipline is important in life
There is no overnight success, and there certainly is no success without putting in the time, effort, and a lot of discipline. I hope you found this post useful and that you will begin to implement some strategies in your life that will help you remain disciplined and consistent even when it’s not so fun (but you know it will pay off in the end!).