I’ve talked a lot about how discipline equals freedom. I first heard this idea on Jocko Willink’s podcast. And as crazy as it sounds, I never had thought about how discipline could mean freedom before. But it makes so much sense.
We all know that motivation will only get us so far. We aren’t going to be motivated every day to work out or do what it takes to reach our goals. What will carry us through those times is discipline. And discipline doesn’t come from anything external – it comes from within.
When you take complete ownership of your life, you take responsibility for yourself. You see, it’s easy to fall into the trap of a victim mindset by believing that you don’t have a choice. While you may not be responsible for certain things that have happened, you are responsible for your response and what you choose to do – even if you choose to do nothing. And if you choose to do nothing, that’s totally okay if you are good with it.
But if you want freedom and to be more than who you are today, you must choose discipline. There is no easy path to anything great.
So how can you become more disciplined?
1.) Understand your why. Why are you doing this? I find that writing down all my reasons why am I doing something and reviewing it first thing in the morning keeps me focused and disciplined. It reminds me every day what I am playing for, so to speak.
2.) Do what you need to do when you don’t feel like doing it. I know, that sounds pretty obvious. But it can be really hard to do when you don’t have motivation. What I find helpful is using the Pomodoro Technique. Say I have to complete a project that I feel overwhelmed by. I break it down into manageable chunks and set a timer for 25 minutes. For those 25 minutes, I focus on the task at hand and block out everything else – which are usually my excuses about why I can’t do it or get into the right mindset to do it. When the timer goes off, I take a break. And usually, just by forcing myself to take action, I am able to get into the right groove and mindset.
3.) Become intentional in what you do. All lasting changes you make in your life come from the small choices you make, consistently, every single day. Know what you need to do and make a conscious decision every day to do those things. Understand what your pitfalls might be and have a plan on how you will combat those things.
4.) Forgive yourself when things go wrong but keep going anyway. There are going to be timeswhen you will fall short of your own expectations or fail at being disciplined. That’s okay – it means you are human! When you fall down, get back up, dust yourself off and get after it. When things don’t go according to our plans, we tend to feel overwhelmed and second guess what we are doing. It’s kind of like when you’re trying to eat better, and you overindulge in one meal and the rest of the day becomes a free for all mini game of making bad dietary choices, because, you know, you can just start fresh tomorrow. Acknowledge what happened, take it as experience for the future, forgive yourself and move on in the direction you want to move in.