“It doesn’t matter whether you are pursuing success in business, sports, the arts, or life in general: The bridge between wishing and accomplishing is discipline.”Harvey Mackay
When you look at all successful people and try to find one common trait they share, you will quickly realize that it is self-discipline.
When interviewed, a lot of top athletes, artists, business owners or corporate leaders apart from talent, or technical knowledge, and other essential qualities that helped them get to the top of their field attribute their success to discipline.
Self-discipline is the ability to do the things they had to do, consistently, throughout their lives, even when they didn’t feel like doing them.
Think about it; it makes sense, as humans, we are the same. One day we are motivated to do it all and conquer the world only to feel tired and deflated the next. Those who develop the habit of self-discipline can push themselves through those distracting thoughts and stick to their routines and planned actions consistently over time.
After reading the below top 5 benefits that self-control, you’ll see that this ability transcends all walks of your life. So here we go.
1. Control over your time
With self-discipline you control your time. When you are in charge you end up having more of it. Why? Because you can sieve through the urgent things and get the most important things accomplished instead. And because you do them when they need to get done as opposed pushing them to “tomorrow” or “next Monday”. It’s why your to-do list stays focused, achievable, and keeps you moving forward. You end up completing your tasks at the right time faster.
Moreover, by planning, preparation, and action, you are also able to respond better to unexpected events, deal with emergencies, and get back to the daily routines as soon as possible.
“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” – Jim Rohn
2. Achievement of your goals
The natural consequence of taking charge of your time, controlling what gets on your to-do list and what doesn’t, is progress and in the end the achievement of your goals.
Think about the extreme focus athletes put towards precise training. One of the most accomplished swimmers in the world, Michael Phelps, is known for his extreme self-discipline and dedication to training. Just try to google his name or click here for an article on one of his grueling routines.
This and dedication keep them progressing through all the milestones to win ultimately. It can be you as well!
And when you win, soak-in the moment, celebrate the achievement but don’t stale sitting on laurels for too long; keep moving. It’s the secret to achieving more than anyone else.
“The discipline you learn and character you build from setting and achieving a goal can be more valuable than the achievement of the goal itself.” – Bo Bennett
3. Less stress and more health
People with a disciplined life also take care of themselves. They know that without a healthy body and mind, any success will be short-lived. To be able to push your self to do things you don’t want to do, especially when times are hard, the whole you needs to be well fed (healthy diet), oxygenated (exercise & time outside), and rested (sleep, time off, etc.).
All of this reduces your stress, increases mental resilience, boosts creativity, and positive attitude.
Think about the last time you felt at the top of your game like you could do anything and conquer any obstacles. Wasn’t it when you were rested and energized by either a great exercise, being outside or after eating a scrumptious, healthy meal?
Self-discipline is a “secret sauce” of keeping up with healthy habits. Now you might think OMG, Maggie, but how am I going to achieve self-discipline in all walks of life?
Here’s what Nelson Mandela would say: “Running taught me valuable lessons. In cross-country competition, training counted more than intrinsic ability, and I could compensate for lack of natural aptitude with diligence and discipline. I applied this in everything I did.”
And my response: you can do it by starting with just one thing.
The beauty of developing a habit of self-discipline in one thing will allow you to then spill it over to other areas of your life.
For example, eliminating one unhealthy food at a time from your diet will make you feel better. This will give you more energy to do other things. Maybe it will be energy to go for a short daily walk with your significant other. From there, you will not only get your exercise and oxygen but also strengthen your relationship by having great conversations along the way, which can also lead to other great ideas. See what I mean? Everything we do is interconnected. Self-discipline, even in one small area, can bring you unexpected benefits somewhere else.
4. More effective leadership
With self-discipline, you become a better leader.
People look up to their leaders, and as leaders we need to be able to consider the potential effects of our actions and words before moving forward with them. With self-discipline, we can manage and control our negative emotions, which can save us from sending an angry e-mail or blurting something out in a meeting we’ll later regret. Through this, we develop respect of our teams.
Additionally, as leaders, we need to have the ability to motivate our people, lead them through changes, and very often take them through a more difficult but the right path achieve common goals. To do it, we need to lead by example.
As Joko Willinik puts it: “The temptation to take the easy road is always there. It is as easy as staying in bed in the morning and sleeping in. But discipline is paramount to ultimate success and victory for any leader and any team.”
Who doesn’t want to be happy? No one, I know!
According to a 2013 study by Wilhelm Hoffman, people with high self-control are happier than those without. When you think about it, it’s quite simple. If you have the self-discipline to eat healthily, stay active, establish the right goals for your professional and personal life, and then take consistent action to achieve them, isn’t that all we need to be happy?
However, simple doesn’t mean easy. On the other hand, it doesn’t mean it’s unachievable.
Despite what many may think, self-discipline is a learned behavior. It’s like a habit, a muscle that when worked on consistently in small steps over and over grows bigger and stronger. That’s all there is to it.
Here is how you grow your self-discipline muscle in 3 steps:
1. Pick one behaviour that you want to be disciplined in and that will be the easiest for you to start with.
2. Then develop a goal and tracking mechanism for the behavior so that you can measure your progress. Peter Drucker’s basic management rule applies here: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”
3. Third and last action that behavior consistently. It’s all about practice, practice, practice. And be patient with yourself, kind & understanding. Don’t let a slippage give you an excuse to give up!
Lastly, I want to ask you a couple of final questions.
Are you now convinced that self-discipline is the way to achieve your goals?
Do you want to do it in your business or corporate career but have no idea where to start?
Don’t let this stop you! The solution is simple again!