EntrepreneurshipLeadership Development

You Are Truly King If You Can Rule Yourself

'Developing discipline is crucial for your success - Failure and Discipline are worlds apart'

Discipline should not only be developed when addressing extremely negative habits like overeating and, drug addiction. Discipline is a crucial path to our success - whether we are trying to excel in business, lose weight or build relationships. We all have weaknesses that get in the way of our best performance or achieving important goals. Developing discipline ensures we are not only able to achieve more in specific areas of life, but it generally gives us the confidence to achieve more and become better people.

Discipline is both mental and physical resilience developed over time. Developing discipline is about training our minds and body to behave repetitively in the way we want it to, despite our emotional state or physical environment, so we can achieve the desired result. It helps us gain mastery over ourselves and improves our control and balance in life as we overcome feeling helpless in difficult circumstances.

The greatest hindrance to discipline, as with success is our mindset and attitude towards it. When we view discipline, as we did as children as negative, inhibiting, hindering and eliminating fun, then it becomes difficult. A lack faith in our own abilities, willpower and motivation to succeed will also cause us to fail at being disciplined. If you are determined to be disciplined for any reason then here are steps to follow.

1. Recognise the area of discipline you want to address. For example, if you want to lose weight you may recognise developing discipline in your shopping, eating or exercise habits as the areas you would like to develop discipline in. Ensure you list the objectives based on what you can control as opposed to what you cannot.

For example, you may be able to control what you order in a restaurant but not the fat content in the meal served. So a goal like eat only food cooked in vegetable fat if you mainly eat in restaurants will be difficult. A goal like ‘eat salad or healthy greens with each meal’ is more achievable.

Ensure you have a compelling reason why you want to become disciplined in that area or your efforts will not last long. You can do this by ensuring you clearly understand the ramifications of your current behaviour and the new world and opportunities your new behaviour will create.  Keep updating this as what may be compelling reasons now may not be so compelling a few months down the road.

2. Prioritise the different areas. It is difficult to work on several things at once as you will lack focus and can stretch yourself too thin. It is best to prioritise the different areas you want to address and develop one discipline before addressing or adding on another.

For example, in our list above addressing shopping will impact eating habits and probably exercise if you walk to do your shopping. Consider starting an area that requires fewer adjustments. This is a good strategy if the required adjustments are big or difficult for you to make at once.

3. Break down your overall objectives to weekly goals and daily targets. Be realistic in what you are able to achieve. The overall goal to lose 20 or 30 kgs is overwhelming, however, shopping for healthy groceries on Tuesday may be quite achievable and directly contributes to your overall objective of losing weight.

4. Develop a routine or ritual that encompasses your new discipline. This ensures you do not forget any aspect of what you need to do and ensures you learn the new discipline fast.

5. Study your behaviour as you make adjustments and review your performance daily and weekly. Knowing the things that as are retrogressive to your progress  or that motivate you to do right will help you avoid or enforce the appropriate behaviour. If you do not take the time to review and preferably record your progress and hindrances it will be difficult for you to adjust your behaviour appropriately.

6. Get resources on how to overcome your shortcomings and enforce the habits you want to acquire. Information is available through magazines, books, videos and audiobooks off and online.

7. Where possible surround yourself with people with the same or similar objectives. It is not necessary to go out of your way to do this or become too dependent on others. Depending too much on outside influence can sometimes work against you as others’ lack of motivation would then impact you negatively. Your own compelling reasons, willpower and motivation should be what drives you.

8. Manage stress during the time you are training yourself to be disciplined in any area. Willpower is depleted with stress. You can address stress by planning better, sleeping better and creating an environment that is conducive to supporting the discipline you are working on.

For example, if you are improving your eating habits having food in your fridge that is tempting will cause unnecessary temptation and stress. When tired you are not likely to be very successful maintaining your new discipline or habit.

9. Use time to enforce positive habits. When tempted take time out to stop an undesirable behaviour e.g. if you are craving chocolate cake postpone it for later. Alternatively, if you want to limit your expenditure writing your shopping list at least 24 hours before ensures you have enough time to review any unnecessary items or replace listed items with better ones.

10. Learn new skills. You could do things wrong if you are limited in knowledge. Developing new skills and having new knowledge can help enforce a desirable habit. e.g. learning how to make better meals or salads will help reinforce better-eating habits.

All said it is important that understand that change will not happen overnight. be gentle with yourself and be continually forgiving to yourself when you slip - and occasionally you will. However, failure is just part of your path to success if you choose to learn from it and continually work on developing your skills and abilities and are gentle to yourself you will succeed in your new habit. You do not teach a baby to walk by spanking it...so don't do it to yourself.

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