Discipline is something highly important for all of us to cultivate. If you want to succeed in any area of life and be guaranteed to make the most of your potential, then having discipline is the one thing you need – to make sure you stay running on that treadmill longer than anyone else, to make sure that you put in the extra hours at work, to make sure you wake up on time every day and to make sure that you put those extra cakes back into the fridge. This is what makes the difference between someone talented at something who never amounts to much beyond general mediocrity, and someone who perhaps maybe isn’t even particularly naturally gifted, but who manages nevertheless to achieve greatness and become a champion.
So how do you achieve this kind of discipline? How do you stop letting greedy/lazy/tired impulses from getting the better of you? Here we will look at some of the ways you can change your psychology in order to get yourself in line – so that you are a weapon that you can aim and deploy in any area of your life.
Keep Your Eye on the Prize
Arnold Schwarzenegger used to give talks to bodybuilders on how to become a champion. Bodybuilding is a sport that requires an intense amount of concentration and an insane amount of discipline – discipline to stick precisely to a diet, to train for up to five hours a day, to turn down nights out on the binge and to consume lots of sometimes unpleasant protein shake. He would then ask the group listening to his talk for a volunteer to explain why he trains. They would then stand up and say ‘I train, because if I try really hard and develop enough size and mass, then maybe I will be able to compete one day’. Arnie would tell these people to sit down – that wasn’t enough. They wanted to ‘maybe’ compete? He would tell them that if that was their answer then they would never succeed and what they should have said was that they wanted to train because they were going to become a champion.
By believing this Arnold stipulates that then every protein shake and every additional rep is something that is taking them further towards a goal. Thus it does not become a chore, it becomes part of a journey towards something you want which makes it a positive thing.
Decide what it is that you want out of life – out of your training, out of your work, or out of your dieting – and then push yourself towards that goal by constantly keeping it at the forefront of your mind and visualising it there.
Note: Make sure to phrase this goal in a positive manner – in other words decide that you want to develop a strong physique, not that you want to get rid of a bad physique. Likewise even if you’re trying to give up smoking, don’t focus on stopping smoking, focus on creating a much healthier and stronger body and being a fresher, healthier you.
Use a Reward System
This should make a huge difference to how you view discipline and how you go about it. However it won’t be enough for everyone, so if you still find yourself missing your old behaviour then make rewards for yourself and tell yourself that you will get a reward after a certain amount of positive behaviour. In other words, to make sure that you do not eat any pudding for a while, tell yourself that if you successfully go without eating any cakes or sweets for the day then you will get a macaroon in the evening or something. Likewise tell yourself that if you finish all your work by a certain time then you will let yourself have the evening off (setting time-lines for your tasks is another great way to increase discipline).
Focus on the Results
At the same time you can also improve your performance by focussing a lot more on the results. So if you are a bodybuilder you would be sure to enjoy flexing your biceps in the mirror and this would tell you your discipline was working and make sure you wanted to get back into the gym as soon as possible to keep your results. This method of improving discipline can work for work discipline too for instance – if you work harder then focus on the better results and on the more spare time you have where work isn’t hanging over you.