Let’s be frank, Setting a long-term goal is easy, but the hard work that comes along with it is what makes the game difficult. This is where the role of discipline comes into play.
I have been a procrastinator from a really long time, and it was not until couple of months ago that I got super-productive.
Of course, I do have days when I don’t feel like doing anything at all, but mind you that’s an important phase of productivity. You need to take break from time to time.
So, let’s begin.
There are 2 most important secrets to having a life-long discipline.
- Having the right mindset.
This is because our mindset influences our happiness and our life in general.
Having the right mindset is equivalent to having a candle in the dark. It a significant metric that determines our success.
- Delayed Gratification
In simple words, delayed gratification refers to resisting immediate temptation, hoping to gain a long-term reward.
You are studying for an exam and you get a notification on your mobile phone. A new season of your favorite series has been released. You have 2 options,
A: Ignore the notification and study hard for the exam
B: Watch the latest episodes and study later
Choosing option B means that you are choosing long-term rewards over the short-term ones.
Now that we have overcome the 80% of the game, let’s move onto the rest 20%
Have a strong reason behind your goal
What makes life interesting is the ups and downs that it brings. There will be days when you will feel like packing up and leaving. It is in such situations that your reason to achieve discipline will push you forward.
So, how do you find your reason?
Well, to be frank, only you can figure this out, because we come from different backgrounds, experiences and perhaps we are from different countries! Reasons that motivate me may not motivate you.
I have a tip to share though, try to be concise with your reasons.
Trying to develop discipline just because it’s mainstream is not a good enough reason to develop discipline. Instead, you can have reasons like – Trying to develop discipline to
- build a life of your choice
- escape your 9-5 job
- achieve your yearly goals
- achieve better grades etc.
Don’t get too caught up with this exercise though. You just need to have something that will motivate you at all times.
Have a goal apart from developing discipline
Having a goal in life gives us a sense of direction in life and it tells us whether we are moving in the right direction or not.
I am not talking about planning out your whole life in advance but about small and obvious goals. They can be related to your upcoming exams, targets, or assignments.
There are 4 key elements of a goal-specific, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
If you want to get better grades in exam, you should keep your goals,
- Specific: Better grades aren’t enough for a goal, rather, make it specific by focusing on your weakest subject.
- Attainable: Success is not an overnight success. You cannot transition from D grade to A grade in one night. Aim big but keep a minimum barrier of C grade and keep raising this barrier.
- Relevant: Your goals should be relevant to you. If you wish to enter the medical field, your goals should be aligned in such a manner that you get to focus more on science-related subjects.
- Time-Bound: I learned this hard way. It is necessary to have a deadline otherwise you may drift into your comfort zone without realizing it. But again, be realistic.
Read this post by Brian Tracy: 6 Reasons Setting Goals Is Important
Be realistic with the plan
When you settle down to map out the path to achieving goals, don’t clutter the calendar with work, work, work.
Sprinkle some responsibilities that need to be tackled. Perhaps you need to take care of your child, cook yourself food, clean the house/room, go to work, etc. This may help you relax.
Also, Your plans should neither be too high nor too low. The whole idea of having goals is to challenge and inspire you to develop discipline.
If you set your aim too high, then you may lose all hope and give up. If you set your aim too low, then you might lose interest because everything would seem simple.
And most importantly: Don’t be in a hurry to achieve your goals. You know what they say, slow and steady wins the race.
Stop procrastinating and take action
Some of us jump from websites to websites to learn the latest productivity tips, ignoring the most fundamental part of productivity, that is, getting started.
But the question is, why do we tend to ignore this basic fundamental when we know that it is the first step towards achieving our goals?
First, you need to understand how the brain works.
Our brain has been designed to keep us safe from dangers. Whenever it perceives a threat, it tries to either run away or hide.
So, When you have a large bundle of work piled up or have an exam upcoming up, your brain tries to hide behind Netflix, games, beer, gossiping, etc.
It’s not the work that our brain is threatened by, but the fear of failing or perhaps habit of perfectionism. So, use the 5 seconds rule and just get started!
You can download the 5 seconds rule book, by Mel Robbins, here.
From the evolutionary point of view, distraction was supposed to save our life but who knew that this gift would one day backfire by distracting us from our important tasks.
Once you get distracted, It requires you 20 minutes to get back on track. By this, You must have figured out how productivity-draining they can be. No doubt, this can be a significant obstruction on the path of the discipline development.
To overcome this, I’ll share 4 quick proven-to-work ideas. You can read a detailed blog post on distraction here!
- Create a distraction-free space
- Bring yourself back when you zone-out
- Maintain the momentum
- Practice delayed gratification
Discipline is about staying Consistent
In the initial days of our journey, we are highly motivated to achieve Discipline. However, as the time passes, the motivation starts to fade away and we find ourselves in a should-I-do-it-or-not kind of situation.
I’m pretty sure that you know the importance of being consistent. If you don’t, read this.
So, Here’s a bit of friendly advice,
Don’t create backlogs for yourself. Get what needs to be done as soon as possible because sometimes, the power of productivity guilt can be inescapable, and not doing a task can be more painful than doing it.
You can be sitting in your bed deciding whether you should write an article of not. If you decide to skip it, the self-sabotaging emotions that you would feel will be greater than the pain that you would feel if you wrote that article.
I am a firm believer in doing at least one task that is out of our comfort zone every day. This can include finishing the challenging tasks as well. The completion of the task will not only increase our confidence and satisfaction level but it will also evolve us into more goals focused people.
Get clear of the motivation Myth
There’s a mainstream myth that motivation is about feeling pumped up and excited to work/study. This is the partial truth though.
- Internal Motivation: When we are pushed by our mind and our reasons to finish a task.
- External Motivation: When we need some external source such as motivational videos, biographies and other things to finish a task.
Personally, I believe that the true motivation that helps us achieve our long-term goals is the one that comes from within. There will be days when you won’t feel pumped up to work on your goals, even after watching a couple of motivational videos.
During those times, internal motivation and reasons are what will push us forward.
To conclude, try to focus more on internal motivation and less on external motivation by ignoring your emotions at times and settling down to finish the work. You cannot always follow what your heart says because it is will only prompt you with excuses to stay in your comfort zone.
Read this post by James Clear: Motivation – The Scientific Guide on How to Get and Stay Motivated
More ‘No’ and less ‘Yes’
I used to be a person who said yes to almost every other thing even when I knew that it will only stress me out later.
Until I asked myself why I always wanted to please others at the cost of my happiness.
I researched a lot on the topic and came to the conclusion that it stemmed from my fear of rejection.
Deep down, I was scared of disappointing, hurt other feelings, or appear unkind or rude.
I could not imagine if someone ever thought bad of me.
So, how did I leave behind this habit?
By learning to prioritize.
Prioritizing is not just about listing out the tasks, but it is also about prioritizing people. You cannot treat everyone equally, you need to choose who you spend your quality time with.
If you have too much on your plate even after prioritizing, delegate some of your tasks to a qualified team member or a freelancer. This will lower your burden.
Printable Discipline Quotes
Discipline is not just a trend but a lifestyle. The key element to maintaining it is the right mindset and delayed gratification.
You need to have a strong reason to transform your life, and not slip back to your old ways. The change will feel uncomfortable in the beginning, but just trust the process and use the above-outlined tips.
Above all, stay accountable and don’t be too hard on yourself. Many people think that it’s the fruit of success that’s sweet, but it is far from the truth.
It is the journey that makes the goal worth the effort. So, enjoy your journey.
Most importantly, never forget that
Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Do let me know if this trick worked for you. If you have something to add to this list, then please do share in the comment section down below.