Achieving the success that I have achieved in my life was difficult work and depending on the goal that I was accomplishing, there were different strengths needed in order to accomplish them. However, no matter what my goal was; losing 85 pounds, quitting smoking, getting out of debt, building wealth, or going from a janitor to a successful career in tech, they all shared one common denominator: Discipline
Discipline is defined as: the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.
In the traditional sense of the word, people show discipline out of the fear of punishment by an external source. This method may allow you to temporarily act or behave in a disciplined way in order to appease your boss or spouse, for example but if you want the kind of discipline that’s long lasting and the kind required to accomplish your goals, then you need to learn what I call “the art of self imposed discipline.” In other words, random acts of self discipline by your own choice, not by force.
When mastering this form of discipline, you will subsequently also be strengthening your willpower. The type of discipline you learn using this method will accomplish two things. First, this discipline will be real and permanent. Second, you can apply this discipline to all areas of your life.
So how do you master the art of self discipline? Just like anything else in life, you learn by practicing. I have been practicing for more than 20 years. There are two ways to practice random acts of self discipline and they are quite simple.
Either choose to stop doing something that you love doing or start to do something that you hate doing. The keyword here is “choose”. These can’t be forced. Once it is forced, it’s no longer self imposed and it becomes the standard definition of discipline which is only temporary and can’t be applied to all areas of your life. So, this must be a choice you make.
To give you some personal examples of the random acts of self discipline that I have practiced over the last 20 years; I have quit drinking soda, quit drinking alcohol, quit eating sugar, quit smoking, went on a major diet to lose 85 pounds, and making sure I’m in bed by 11pm every night.
When it comes to imposing self discipline, you don’t need to quit doing something you love, or start to do something you hate, forever. It’s only temporary. You are just practicing the art. So set a timeframe for yourself. For me, if it was something I enjoyed and therefore was quitting, I could do it again when I no longer missed it. If it was something I hated and started doing regularly, I could quit as soon as I stopped dreading it.
I came up with this method as a child and I am still doing it today. Actually, I even have two current random acts of self discipline that I’m doing right now. The first one is coffee. I love coffee. I would drink 3-4 cups a day. So nine months ago I quit drinking it. Once I stopped craving it, I knew I had mastered self discipline for it and could allow myself to have coffee anytime I wanted.
The second one I started last month. I go jogging every morning. Strictly because I hated jogging. I wake up at 6:30AM every day and go jogging in my neighborhood. I will do this until my hatred for it disappears. In that moment, I will know that I have mastered self discipline for it and then I can quit doing it. However, I usually continue most of my random acts of self discipline, even after mastering them. So it might be the same for coffee and jogging.
I didn’t do all of these things because they were easy. I specifically did these things because they were hard. There is a bigger picture for the reason why I practice these random acts of self discipline. I do this so when a situation in my life presents itself that demands discipline and willpower, I had practiced enough to be able to conquer it.
The success in all areas of my life is owed to my self imposed discipline and the willpower that is created as a byproduct of that process. Once you have mastered this art, you can accomplish almost anything. I suggest you pick something today and start practicing !