Those who achieve the most and are most respected have been shown to delay gratification. Think about who we respect: doctors, teachers, writers, black belts, successful entrepreneurs. They have all made sacrifices to get where they are today.
I like to be self-disciplined but honestly, I’m not. What I do is use tricks to stay on track. The following are 8 tricks that I use:
1 – do not let me be tempted. I just don’t have tempting things around me. If I want cookies at night, I have to go to a store or get the flour. Either one is usually enough to discourage me from eating them. I’ve even gone so far as not to have a television.
2 – Plan. A small amount of planning keeps me on track. This can be as simple as planning what things I want to accomplish that day or what healthy snacks I want to have on hand. I take out my workout clothes every night and have my work clothes packed in my gym bag, so I head straight to the gym.
3 – Set goals. The act of setting goals sets them in motion. The more you check them out, the more you stay on track.
4 – Control what you do. It sounds strange, but simply recording what you do or don’t do is a great way to keep you on track. This works well for diets, workouts, and just about anything. What gets measured and tracked gets done.
5 – Ask yourself “what would I like to achieve when I go to bed”. This simple question can keep you focused.
6 – Get a coach. This person can be a friend or a paid coach. Coaches tend to push you and keep you on track. I always thought it was weird to pay someone to tell you what you already know to do, but years of working with a personal trainer has taught me that I push harder when training.
7 – Increased pain of not doing something. Simple: don’t allow yourself to do what you find enjoyable until you complete the difficult job.
8 – Increase the pleasure of success and make it more immediate. For example, writing an article has very little instant payoff. So rewarding me with a tea for successfully completing it can work.
9 – I use the mantra “successful people do difficult things” I am a successful person and that drives me to do difficult things.
10 – Tell other people your goals. If your goal is to stop doing something (like smoking), both your friends and your enemies will enjoy signaling when you are failing. If your goal is positive, like reading a book a week, tell your positive and understanding friends – they will help cheer and support you.
11 – It’s about habits. “We are the product of what we repeatedly do” – Aristotle. Habits don’t even require work. Just do them. I suspect you don’t even have to think about brushing your teeth. Just do it. It is a habit.
12 – It’s about systems. Develop systems that help you achieve your goals. Systems can include your support, your organization, your methods of doing things efficiently.
Self-discipline can be learned. You can choose to be self-disciplined. It is not easy but it is what will make you succeed.