Discipline gets you up early to go for a run on a freezing winter’s day because you are dedicated to improving your physical fitness. Discipline is turning off the TV and reading some of those books that will improve your effectiveness. Discipline is to stop giving so much time to the unimportant things and directing your energy to those activities which will make a measurable difference in your life.
Discipline takes effort, willpower and courage. It leads to a feeling of confidence because you realize that you alone are the influencer of your life and if you don’t like what you see, you can change it. You shape your circumstances rather than letting them shape you.
How do you build self-discipline? It can be stated in nine words: put off short-term gratification for long-term satisfaction. You build discipline by sacrificing what is easy to do for what is right to do. When you do the things you don’t like to do, you build discipline. This is the seed of greatness.
The top performers in business and life continuously raise their standards. Leaders have the wisdom to understand that self-mastery comes one day at a time. And the days slip into weeks. And the weeks into months. And a time comes when those small, daily improvements in their discipline have created extraordinary results in life quality.
Below are three lessons for creating self-discipline.
1. Finish What You Start
This simple practice is enormously effective because, in practicing it, you are no longer a slave to your weaker impulses which silently prod you to take the path of least resistance and quit before your goal is reached, no matter how small that goal may be. Instead, you are in full control of your self and use your inner power to accomplish worthy ends, whether this means completing a hot new book, learning a new language or growing a dynamic business.
2. Be Silent
Buddhist monks have a favorite strategy to build willpower: the vow of silence. You might wonder how staying quiet for days on end builds willpower. It is because you are exerting force on your will. You are not giving into the impulse telling you to talk. You made a promise that you would be silent for a few hours or maybe a full day and then you had the courage to keep this promise. This courage and capacity quickly spills over into every other areas of your life. Following through on this small goal builds your capacity to follow through on larger goals like managing your time more efficiently or building richer relationships.
3. Get Up Early
Early rising is one of the key life habits of many of the highly successful people. I get up around 5 am and rising at this time allows me the time to write peacefully and think deeply. I wasn’t always an early riser but the more I studied the lives of those who were truly creating happier, healthier and meaningful lives, the more I realized the value of getting up early. And the more I exercised the power of my will and got up from a warm bed to do what I had promised myself I would do, the stronger it became.
The real key is to appreciate that discipline in your outer world comes from a disciplined inner-world. Your thoughts form your world. Life management begins with mind management. And as you exercise your character power to build self-discipline, meditate on these words of Emerson: “That which we persist in doing becomes easier to do, not that the nature of the thing has changed but that our ability to do has increased.”