“Don’t count on motivation, count on discipline” – Jocko Willink (Ex-Navy SEAL)
Finding motivation is the easy part. We’re motivated all the time. We’re motivated to study for an important test, to aim for a promotion at work and to slim down before beach season. But, with motivation alone, we will achieve none of these things.
In every difficult pursuit our motivation will constantly waiver. We’ll want to quit. We’ll want to go back to what was easy. With motivation alone we will fail, undoubtedly.
The key to achievement of any kind is discipline. Discipline is the ability to show up day after day and fight towards our goal despite everything else in life pulling us in different directions. Discipline is grinding out that one more practice test, that late night work project, and that one last rep at the gym.
With discipline we can push beyond our own motivation and create new limits for ourselves. We can overcome the desire to quit because we’ve trained ourselves to do so. With discipline all of our goals are achievable.
Today I want to share some the 5 techniques I use to master discipline in my life.
1. Self-Imposed Deadlines
When it comes to mastering discipline, we are always our own worst enemy. We have a tendency to make up our own excuses to push something off another day, another month or another year.
One way I’ve learned to overcome this is by creating self-imposed deadlines. At all times I will have Three To-Do Lists (yes, three!) where I monitor my progress and hold myself accountable. I have one list for daily goals, one for weekly, and the third for big picture goals.
To track my daily and weekly goals, I use the One Big Thing App and the simple Apple Notes App respectfully. As for my big picture goals I actually take a screen shot of my top five goals and save them to my phone’s home screen! This technique helps remind me every single time I touch my phone as to what I’m working towards. It can be haunting, but it’s effective!
While deadlines are important to maintaining good discipline, they’re not enough. A key to ensuring we hit our deadlines is by implementing a structured routine. An effective routine will start to make our goals an integral part of our lives and create a sustainable long-term process.
One way I’ve learned to stick to my routines is through the method of “time blocking.” I set certain hours aside each day and each week to work towards a particular goal. With time blocking I can only work on one task at a time so that I can fully immerse myself in it. By doing this I provide a firm structure to my day and to my weekly calendar. Through the establishment of my routines habit is formed.
3. Journaling & Affirmations
In order to maintain discipline and work towards the achievement of our goals we must first get out of our own head. We need to overcome the doubts and fears that creep in whenever we struggle. Because if we can’t master our own mind then surely our motivation will falter and we will fail.
I have two techniques that work really well for me here: journaling and affirmations. Every day I complete the Tim Ferriss 2-Minute Journal in which I write down (1) everything that is bothering me and (2) everything that I’m grateful for. This helps me flush out all of my bad thoughts and also reminds me of all the progress I’ve made up to this point in my life.
In addition to journaling, I also write down a particular affirmation in my notebook 20 times each day. Over the last month I’ve been using an affirmation that coincides with my long-term goals for this blog. This is a highly powerful tool that’s worked for me already in sales. We’ll see where this new affirmation takes me!
4. Accountability Partners
Let’s be honest, sometimes holding ourselves to deadlines and routines just isn’t enough. It’s easy to quit if we have no one by our side pushing us. This is why it’s essential to have a network of people to lean on who understand our pain points.
Through the early stages of launching this blog I have been able to find people who share my goals and my struggles. Whenever I feel myself slipping I can reach out to these people for insight and added motivation.
Most recently I have even joined a Mastermind Group consisting of bloggers and podcasters of all levels. We meet weekly to share ideas and push each other to our goals. I’ve found that the collective discipline of a group can be much stronger than that of the individual.
5. Block out the Noise
A lot about discipline comes from sacrifice. In order to be discipline in the areas of our lives that matter we must block out the noise in the areas that don’t. Admittedly, in this age of constant digital consumption this is harder than ever.
One method I use is limiting the number of unproductive activities in my life. For example I have made a conscious effort to limit activities such as shopping, social media, gaming and television. Certainly, the biggest change I’ve made in this regard was selling my TV. While this may sound ludicrous to most of my readers, having no TV has enabled me to fill my time instead with productive activities such as studying online marketing and creating content.
Of course I’m not suggesting you need to kick your TV to the curb but maybe start to consider ways to block out all the distractions in your life for part of your day. Give yourself an hour alone. Give yourself time to think. Give yourself time to work.
My hope with this post is to give you a few actionable ways to begin to master discipline in your life. Because, without discipline, whatever you’re setting out to achieve will fall perpetually out of reach. Your motivation will falter. You will fall short.
I’ve seen this many times in my own life. A lack of discipline is what made me a sub-elite track athlete in high school, an average student in college, and an unemployed, directionless kid upon graduation. Relying on motivation alone put me in a realm of mediocrity.
But in recent years I’ve made strides to improve my discipline and with it, great things have started to happen for me. With all of my crazy lists, routines and journal entries I’ve started to learn more, travel more, and create more.
It’s not always fun. It can be painful. I often want to revert back to my old ways. But discipline is what’s going to propel my growth. Discipline is going to help me master my craft. Discipline is what’s going to keep me going no matter how much my motivation falters.