Motivation is great, but as we discussed previously, it wanes. Discipline is what you will lean on to keep you on track when motivation is low.
When I think of discipline, the first image that pops into my head is the military. I see a legion of soldiers following a grueling, structured routine that would break the average person. Each member knows their place, follows orders, and executes with precision. There are no excuses, no whining, no hesitation – just persistent action taken towards achieving a goal.
That would be the ideal scenario. Someone who has great discipline can move mountains. Just about every top achiever has serious discipline into to climb to the top. I don’t think anyone would dispute it’s importance. But the real question is, how do you develop it?
I like thinking about discipline like a muscle. It isn’t binary – it has an infinite range of values. Some people have a little discipline, while others have near limitless amounts of it. The more discipline you have, the more you can achieve.
Much like a muscle, discipline has to be grown over time. You can’t just read this post and flip a switch and become David Goggins. It would be like going to the weight room and trying to stack 4 plates on the bench press as a newbie. You will get crushed. As I said, there are levels to this.
The best way I have found is to start small. Discipline is grown be being able to flex or use discipline successfully to complete a goal or task regularly over time. For example, if you brush your teeth on a daily basis (I hope so, lol), that requires a small amount of discipline. So find something similarly “small” and add it to your daily routine.
For example, if physical fitness is something you want to develop discipline with, then add a daily task of doing 20 push ups every morning upon waking up. That would only take you a minute tops, so it is a minimal time obligation. If you can do this daily for at least 2 weeks, you will feel compelled to do push ups, and if you skipped you would feel your day out of place.
That’s the power of discipline – it reinforces your daily tasks and works to keep your routine in place. So let’s say 2 weeks later, you got the push ups down – now what? Add something else, say 20 crunches. Then 10 pull ups, 5 minutes of jumping jacks, a 10 minute jog, etc.
By slowing adding these extra tasks onto your daily routine, you can being to develop some serious discipline. Over the course of a few months, your daily routine can go from nothing to having a solid half hour block that you do every single day no matter what.
While I was using fitness examples for building discipline, you could easily do the same for intellectual pursuits. Add reading a book for 15 minutes before going to bed. Then add 15 minutes of writing, whether it be for work, creative expression (poems, stories, etc), or for self reflection like keeping a journal. If you are an artist, perhaps practicing brush strokes daily might be beneficial. Or if you are a programmer, sit down and write bits of code, or debug other’s code. There is no limitation onto what you could add to your daily routine.
However, the discipline itself is only a tool to reach your goals. By itself, it will just allow you to complete tasks. The best use of discipline is to create a routine that will allow you to build skills and work towards completing a goal for yourself.
Physical fitness is easy to imagine here, as if you want to achieve a certain level of strength or stamina, it can be easily quantified and you can create routines to help you build sufficient levels of strength to lift a certain weight, or have stamina to run a marathon, etc.
In creative endeavors, you need to develop the skills or confidence to unlock your inner muse and allow you to write, draw, sing, or otherwise express your full creative potential. That will require sufficient practice and experience, which can be facilitated with a daily routine.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree?
Comment with your take on this. And if you like this article, please do me a solid and share it with your friends. Thanks!