Imagine a life where each day is meticulously planned out and you are able to make significant progress toward your dreams without hesitation. Imagine how far you would soar if you worked on your goals consistently every day for an entire year. Whether you’re skimming this article from your couch while watching Netflix and eating pizza, or you’re already a moderately disciplined person and are looking to take your productivity to a whole new level, the information presented in this guide will be invaluable to your success.
Make a To-do List.
You can’t achieve your goals if you don’t know what they are! Clearly define everything you want to achieve each week (within reason). Make a to-do list once per week and write down all the things you want to get done that week, then get to work on one checklist item at a time. Making a written list can help organize your thoughts, prevent you from getting overwhelmed, and increase your efficiency.
Every Decision Matters. Regardless of How Small.
A solid foundation of discipline is built on the minutiae of the day. If you start by thinking “I’m going to do X every single day!”, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Why? Because by attempting this, you are trying to get from A-Z without doing the work in between. Start with as small of a disciplinary task as you can. Even seemingly insignificant tasks like brushing your teeth or putting on your running shoes should be treated as a “win” toward building your discipline. Always be conscious that each individual “win” of discipline (no matter how small) is another brick added to the foundation of your “house”. Conversely, maintain consciousness of all the tiny bad decisions or “losses” you have made, or are about to make throughout the day. Just like every tiny act of discipline matters, so does every tiny act of defeat. Something as simple as taking a bite of a cupcake while on a diet should be taken seriously and not shoved into your subconscious because “you deserve it”. No. Slip ups and mistakes are a slippery slope and should never be shrugged off. The road of discipline is paved on consistency, and each deviation from the end goal is another hurdle you are intentionally placing in your own path.
Absolutely No Excuses.
Live it, speak it, breathe it, tattoo it across your chest. Ok maybe not that last part, but “no excuses” should be your new life motto if you want to reach your maximum potential of discipline. Do not make any exceptions to this rule, because as soon as you open a crack for weakness, it begins dripping through, then leaking, and pretty soon it leads to an entire breach of your discipline. The only exception to this rule is in case of dire emergencies. Treat all else as an obstacle in the way of your success.
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
No matter what hurdles come your way, find a way to work around them or get over them. Do not compromise when it comes to your dreams! You must hold yourself accountable for everything you said you wanted to do. This is how discipline is maintained over a long period which will lead to your ultimate success.
Tell a Friend About your Goals!
You aren’t going to be on your a-game 100% of the time, everyone has off days. This is why you should tell your friends all of your goals, what you plan on achieving, and when you intend to reach the finish line. This adds external pressure formally known as extrinsic motivation in psychology to your progress. Just having the thought of “if I do not follow through to the end of what I said I would do, it means will have lied to John Smith” in the back of your mind while pursuing your goals will provide tremendous drive toward reaching your goals. Don’t just tell one friend, tell many. Tell your whole family. The more people you give your word to, the more pressure you place on yourself to succeed.
The final and most important step of becoming relentlessly disciplined is to stay consistent. This might mean cancelling plans with friends, losing sleep, or even greatly inconveniencing yourself, but all of it will be worth it in the long run of your dreams. You must be willing to make the sacrifices to follow through on your dreams. You are sacrificing your time now for a better tomorrow while everyone else wastes all their time and resources today at the cost of their future. When you feel like caving and giving way to temptation, remember how far you’ve come and how bad you don’t want to mess up the streak of discipline. Keep in mind that it is astronomically easier to maintain a habit you already have than it is to get back into a routine after falling off the wagon. Think of discipline as an old machine. If you turn the machine ‘off’ for a day, or stop using it for some time, the gears lose their lubrication and build up rust. When you finally power the machine back on, it takes lot of effort to get each of the rusty gears spinning and properly lubricated. If you keep this “discipline engine” running all the time, it maintains momentum, and will work for you instead of against you.