o me, the most important way to achieving goals and actually improve the way I live and work is to have strong self-discipline. Self-discipline is not just about doing something constantly, but it’s about consistently regulating and then correcting your behavior in order to adapt to the changing circumstances that you face every day. It’s also about proactively training yourself to follow specific set of rules and then live up to a specific set of standards, which will help you shape your thoughts and behavior for the goal at hand. It’s quite clear to see the value of cultivating self-discipline, because not only does it boost your level of productivity and confidence through focused effort, but it also has a tendency to announce your level of confidence as well.
It does this via a greater sense of control that you have in yourself and in your life. It makes it easier not to get side-tracked or distracted and increase your general level of tolerance towards others. It gives this feeling that you can actually manage to finish tasks in less time and with the least effort possible. Self-discipline is not something that we’re born with; it’s something that we develop over time. It’s very much like a muscle that strengthens with the more exercises that we do. The main thing for me about improving, and strengthening my self-discipline is having reasons, and asking myself why:
Why do I want to do a particular task? Why do I want to become a particular person? Why do I want to develop a certain skill?
To have self-discipline requires having strong desires to achieve something. If you don’t have that kind of burning sensation in you, that push you to really want to achieve something, then there is very little hope that you’ll be able to develop this kind of strong self-discipline. It needs fuel. That fuel usually comes from inspiration or motivation. You need one or the other to fuel your self-discipline. Otherwise, you’ll struggle. You will not be able to grow and be motivated to continue exercising, learning, or whatever it is that you want to do to improve yourself. This also boils down to particular reasons for undertaking a specific task. To me, this would be about questions.
The more good reasons you have, the more questions you’ll have about a particular task that you want to achieve, then the more fuel you will have to actually keep your self-discipline alive for longer.
But, having just a commitment is not enough to improve your self-discipline. You will also need incredible commitment to accomplish this goal. Of course, it’s never easy, because long term commitments take a lot of discipline and it isn’t something that we are good at doing by ourselves. Typically, I split my goals into six individual steps:
1. What is the overall goal? This process cannot be fuzzy. It cannot be too high level, it has to be very, very specific and I’d typically ask myself: what is it that I want to do? Who do I want to become? What new habit will I like to develop? What behaviour will I like to change? Where do I want to focus my energies on in this moment?
2. Describe the changes required. It’s time to describe the desired outcomes, with every goal that you set for yourself. Then describe behaviours and habits that you must take in order to help you achieve this goal. What specific behaviours will I need to cultivate to achieve this goal? What habits will I need to adopt to achieve this goal? It’s important to remember your core values. Never lose track of what your end goal should be. And then, with this goal in mind, think more about What type of person you’d need to become to achieve this? Which qualities will I need to adopt? andHow do I need to think about myself, my life and my goal? When you have more certainty, then it’ll be easier to master the self-discipline.
3. Find role models. Who are the people that you look up to and are a constant source of inspiration to you? They could be people that you know online, maybe on Twitter, or authors, musicians, YouTubers, anybody that you might have encountered, or that you follow their works, art, and so on. Moreover, they could be family members, maybe someone who you look up to in your family, because they became successful and you want to understand their steps to success. It could be colleagues and friends as well. You want to understand how they work, how they got there and specifically how disciplined they were to achieve that particular goal and become what they are today. If they are people that you know and you can approach directly then it becomes much easier to just go and speak with them and ask as many questions as possible.
4. Identify reasons and obstacles. Because, you are going to encounter lots of obstacles and that’s normal. With every new skill that we want to learn or new goal that we want to achieve, there are going to be obstacles down the road. We need to make sure that we can answer, from the beginning, what these obstacles are going to be and how we are going to circumvent them. This is because without specific solutions, we will likely get side-tracked down the road. It’s important that you answer these questions and you don’t settle just on one or two reasons. Again, ask as many questions as possible, also write down all the answers as detailed as possible.
5. Create a plan of action. Create tasks, micro-tasks and milestones. Using tools like Trello, Todoist or Notion, I outline and organise my learning process for creating that particular habit. I like to breakdown my end-goal into tasks and micro-tasks. Each task has a deadline which goes towards a particular milestone. To make myself more accountable, I add dates and times to each task, that way I have a nagging feeling of delivering something on-time. It’s like that annoying friend or client that pesters you constantly to send some updates across.
6. Make yourself accountable. I share my tasks with friends or family members that will check on my progress every week. It will keep me feel accountable to myself or them by setting specific tasks or punishments, especially when I don’t achieve a particular goal on a set deadline. When I finish each one of the collection of micro-tasks, then I will give myself some sort of reward. That reward is really important, and this is because it helps you see progress and also helps you continue making progress towards the next step of your plan in general. Having people, friends, family, and colleagues looking at your progress and making yourself accountable gives you the kind of mental pressure that you need to establish a stronger self-discipline.
Having another voice is actually encouraging; it’s also very motivating because it will help you stick to it for longer, till the very end. After thousands and thousands of stories of successful people, to me, the only secret ingredient is about learning how to master being comfortable with being uncomfortable. Self-discipline is the most important thing that you can do to yourself.
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