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How to Become Disciplined: Taking Consistent Action

Have you ever tried to become more disciplined?  Have you struggled repeatedly to implement discipline in your life?  If so, there’s a reason for that!

Self-discipline is more elusive than ever.  Your attempts at self-discipline are constantly undermined by companies who seek to control you.  That’s because your self-discipline detracts from their bottom line.  Their profits depend on a lack of discipline.

Apps want to keep us distracted.  Video games strive to maximize addiction.  Food companies design their products to make sure ‘you can’t eat just one’.  Netflix profits when you’re glued to the couch.

Self-discipline is the ultimate form of rebellion.  It’s the act of saying ‘no’ to society so we can go after what we really want to accomplish.

If you chase after pleasure, it will be followed by pain.  By choosing discipline, you may experience short-term pain, but it leads to a lasting sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.

Five Steps To Becoming More Disciplined In Your Life:

1. Listen To Your Higher Self

The biggest struggle of becoming disciplined is the internal battle between your two selves.

Your lower self wants to play video games all day.  Your higher self wants to get to work on writing a book.

Your lower self wants to go out to eat.  Your higher self wants to save money and eat healthier by cooking your own meals.

On and on it goes.  You’re constantly pulled in two directions.  Which one wins?  Without a firm decision, it depends on how you feel and how strong your willpower is at that moment.

2. Make A Firm Decision

“Self-discipline, as the very term implies, comes from the SELF. YOU. It comes when you make a decision to be disciplined. When you make a decision to be better. When you make a decision to do more, to BE more. Self-discipline comes when you decide to make a mark on the world.” – Jocko Willink, Discipline Equals Freedom

Once you make the decision to be disciplined, how you feel becomes irrelevant.  You choose to listen to your higher self and strive to do what it says.  Now you always know the right choice.

Create a plan for an area you’re trying to be disciplined in. Then decide to follow it to the letter, no matter what happens.

Following through on your plan is much simpler than trying to make each choice individually.  There is no more ‘just this once’ or ‘I’ll make a better choice tomorrow’.  All it takes at that point is to make the right choice.  

Will this be the day you decide to choose discipline?  Write down today’s date.  This day could forever be remembered as the day you chose to listen to your higher self.

3. Choose What You Really Want

“The people who are successful decide they are going to be successful. They make that choice. And they make other choices. They decide to study hard. They decide to work hard. They decide to be the first person to get to work and the last to go home. They decide they are going to take on the hard jobs. Take on the challenges. They decide they are going to lead when no one else will.” – Jocko Willink

To become disciplined, you have to decide what you want in your life.  Want to be a writer?  Write every day.  Want to be financially free?  Create a budget and stick to it.

Create rules for yourself. Bright lines that you refuse to cross.  Once you have a rule for each situation, your response becomes automatic.

If you have a rule that says ‘I don’t eat anything with added sugar’, whether to buy some ice cream is no longer a question.  The answer is clear.  

Another rule could be ‘No watching TV during the week’.  When you get home from work, you want to write and work on your blog.  With this rule, once you get home you already know what to do.

What’s the number one activity that gets in the way of your discipline?  Create a rule limiting the effect it can have.  Write down your new rule and keep it in mind.

4. Exercise Your ‘No’ Muscle

Discipline is the act of saying ‘No’ to your lower self.  You have to turn down what you want now in order to achieve what you want most.

Saying ‘No’ takes practice.  You can build this skill every single day.  Start small.  When you’re browsing ice cream at the grocery store, just walk away.  Want to watch the new show on Netflix?  Do your creative practice instead. 

These small acts of discipline build strength and character.  You’ll trust yourself more when you’re not controlled by your feelings.

What can you say ‘No’ to today?  Practice saying no daily to something you want.  The more you want it, the more powerful saying ‘No’ can be.

5. Wake Up With Discipline

This weekend, I realized how important it is to start the day with discipline.  On Saturday, I set an alarm but slept for 2 hours past it.  The extra sleep made me groggy throughout the day.  My level of discipline never recovered that day, and I didn’t get any of my most important work done.

On Sunday, I woke up when my alarm went off and forced myself out of bed after about 20 minutes.  It was extremely difficult to get up then.  Once I got up, I meditated for half an hour, then went to the gym.  By noon, I’d already accomplished more than I did the day before.

How you start your day determines how it goes.  Oversleeping does not make you more rested – in fact, it makes you more tired.  I’d rather get too little sleep than too much.  To help myself wake up, I moved my alarm to another room.  

Being disciplined can be extremely difficult.  If you have trouble waking up early, that’s normal.  Sometimes it takes extreme measures to force yourself to start your day with discipline.  If you succeed, and look back on it a few hours later, you’ll be glad you put in the extra effort.  After all, our lives are made of days.  Don’t let any of them go to waste!

Choose one of the points from this article, and apply it today! As Jocko Willink says, we are only truly free once we are disciplined.

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Joel Smith

Author and writing coach at The Fit Writer.

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