A friend of mine is a brand strategist, a marketing expert, and an influencer. During the past 18 months, she has produced so much online content, between free social media sessions and paid seminars and courses. So I asked her, how do you do this every single day? With all the ups and downs of life, doesn’t that impact your mood or energy? She said that she has good and bad days just like all of us and that she wakes up sometimes not in the mood to do it. Then she said, “I have one word for you, DISCIPLINE,” which is her motivator, muse, and energy source. Discipline makes her keep going, despite all external or internal factors. I recall one of her recent social media posts with a picture of a person working out at a gym and a quote under it that read, “Even if you are tired, do it tired.”
Discipline is the magic pouch that, if you drink, you will have it running in your veins, making you a superhero. In one of my previous posts, “Why should we have good habits?” I wrote about the power of having the right habits in one’s life and how to develop them to reach your goals or objectives. Discipline is what will make you stick to those new habits and respect your commitment to them and your goals or objectives. It is what will make you stick to your values in life, stand up to what you believe in, and have them in front of you at all times as your guiding star.
Since we are in the month of Ramadan, one of my kids asked me the other day, “How does fasting make us feel the hunger of the poor? I am not really hungry, and I don’t feel anything.” I immediately replied by confirming his thoughts that fasting is not about feeling the hunger of the less fortunate; instead, it is about teaching us self-discipline more than anything else. It teaches us to commit and respect a routine in our daily life that is different from our normal days, and it teaches us that we cannot serve our desires just because we want to and that we need to respect the ritual and abide by it them. Sunrise and sunset control our daily rituals and routines, and we must respect many Do’s & Don’ts during Ramadan, which require strong self-discipline.
Of course, it all depends on how much you really want to achieve that goal or dream, as just wanting something is not enough, and you need to put in the effort and have the required willpower behind it. Will Smith said it best when he played Chris in the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness” in the scene when Chris was playing basketball with his son, and he was trying at first to push his son to stop wasting time playing ball and that he will never be good at it, then when his son got upset, Chris realized that he was not doing his son any good by putting him down. So he backtracked and said, “You got a dream, you got to protect it; people can’t do something themselves, they want to tell you can’t get it. You want something, go get it, period.”
There are many sources and books on how to have self-discipline and how to adapt to this mindset, so you can commit to your goals and objectives and achieve them. Think of self-discipline as a muscle that gets in shape with time, so don’t sweat over trying to master it today, but be sure that it will get in shape with consistent effort and time. I will share with you some of my personal recommendations to develop your self-discipline
- Be very clear about what you want. The sense of direction is rule number zero, as without that, you will go in circles and not achieve anything. You need to act with the end in mind; you need to know what do want to achieve. Write it down and have it posted in front of you every day. As simple as this might sound, it’s the most challenging step, so give it enough thought to know exactly what you want to achieve. Please note that “I want to be rich” is not a goal or a dream you want to chase, as it’s not specific. But if you say, “I want to have $20M in cash in my bank account by age 40,” then that is a clear objective that you can work on backward to set the plan on how to achieve it, assuming, of course, that you are not 39 and that you still have a good number of years to work on this goal.
- Your life is your responsibility. Whatever happens to you, ups or downs, it’s your responsibility and no one else’s. Don’t blame anyone for anything that happens to you, and always assume responsibility, as only then will you be able to change it for the better. Having such a mindset will make you realize that you control your own life, you have the power, and since you have control, you can change it for the better.
- Respect your values. Those are your compass and will act as your guardian angels to keep you focused and on track. Life is filled with distractions & temptations, and we will all be tempted and weakened at times, and that’s ok. Just always remind yourself to cross-check your actions with your value system and remind yourself of your destination. Then get up and get back on track. Your values will also act as your reminder of what you want to achieve and what you are pursuing.
- Apply Time Management religiously. We all have twenty-four hours in our days, so no one can say they did not have enough time. Just look around you and see all the successful figures who made history; they all had the same twenty-four hours. Manage your time, use apps or digital calendars, and lock everything into it; even your meals and sleeping time should be logged in. Then follow it religiously.
- Don’t give up. Be annoyingly persistent and keep going no matter what. Self-discipline gets easier with time, as once you make all the needed habits part of your daily routine, they become easier to adapt and more like mindless activities, but you need to stay the course until that happens. When you feel down or tired or almost giving up or that it’s not working out, you will remind yourself why you started in the first place, read the goals and dreams you wrote down from step-1 above again, and visualize them in your mind.
- Have an Accountability Friend. Arrange a call with a friend and ask them to act as your timekeeper, following up on your progress to keep you on track, and vice versa, so you also act as their timekeeper, following up on their performance. This will help you to push each other forward.
- Reward yourself. Have a reward system to reward yourself after completing every phase or step of your journey to stay motivated and excited. Create small rewards that push you forward but should not make you too relaxed and keep you on your feet. Hence, the reward should not become a distraction. In return, put a punishment on yourself if you miss a deadline or get too lazy at any phase, again, to keep pushing you forward.
So no more excuses, get up and get busy, and remember Jim Rohn’s quote, “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.”