Back in caveman days, being disciplined was so easy that discipline wasn’t even a thing.
With a continual threat of death and starvation, there were genuine and visceral reasons for doing things with urgency, even if you didn’t want to do them.
Now, most things are seemingly less urgent.
Without pressing, visible and tangible requirements for us to act in our comfortable, modern world, being disciplined is, well, bloody hard.
Setting goals. Being consistent with our work every day. Eating healthy. Getting out of bed early.
That kind of thing.
The biggest reason is that the benefits of these things are rarely immediately visible.
The benefit of getting out of the way of a rampaging gorilla in the jungle is immediately evident.
We know our life is at stake, and so we do what we need to do. The discipline is there. It is straight-forward.
In staying healthy, the immediate benefit of choosing not to eat that cupcake is pretty invisible.
To live a good life today requires discipline for doing things that are good for us — for things that move us towards our full potential.
And most of those things don’t feel urgent. All of it seems — at first glance — equally non-essential.
Here’s the thing:
It’s not more discipline you need. Instead, you need to make discipline come easy.
Like our caveman friends, you want less of a need to be disciplined in the first place.
“The surest test of discipline is its absence.” ~Clara Barton
We have the power and the strategies to make discipline effortless.
We have enough discipline. We have plenty of discipline for watching Netflix when we’re bored, gaming or eating doughnuts. That requires discipline, but it’s effortless.
We need to apply ‘effortless discipline’ to those things that will make our lives amazing.
We need to make it as easy as it was to run as fast as we could when being chased by a tiger.
1. Take away the friction in your environment.
Most of discipline is about optimising your environment:
- The people you hang around with.
- Your mental blocks, fears and doubts.
- Your physical environment.
They can all hold us back, and they can all be improved. List out how you might do this for each one.
Easier said than done yes, but it can be insane when you think about all the things that are present in our lives that stop us from getting what we want.
What do you want, and what needs to go?
An example would be if you were trying to lose weight. If you’re surrounded by chubby friends, cookies and ice-cream in your home, having the discipline to eat fewer sugary treats would be much, much harder.
By getting rid of junk and dealing with those relationships (sorry Cindy), you are optimising your environment — and you are making discipline easier.
2. Set yourself juicier, bigger goals
A lot of us either have no goals, or we don’t make them big and exciting enough. Big goals are more interesting. They motivate us to want to pursue them. Go for your dreams. Go for big goals. Think big and draw up a vision of what you want.
Check in with those goals every day and make an action plan that leads to daily action towards those goals.
This makes discipline easier.
3. Be clear on why you must have what you want
Come up with a list of all the reasons why those above goals are worth pursuing, including why you can’t afford to continue the way you are going. This takes goal-setting a step further.
Having clarity on why you want will take your motivation to be disciplined to the next level.
4. Be clear on the small steps you need to take
Most of us find discipline for the things that matter exceptionally hard. One of the main reasons for this is having a lack of clarity on what to do.
We procrastinate because we just aren’t clear on the steps we need to take, from the year, down to six months, to thirty days, right down to each day.
A lot of people, including myself, get excited about the idea of something they’d like to achieve but fail to create a plan to work themselves towards that thing, step by step.
They want to get straight to the juicy stuff.
We give ourselves too big of a chunk to chew, with no smaller steps in between, and we inevitably fail and wonder why.
The secret here is to work your way up to things. Identify the next small step, and take that step.
If, for example, you want to build a coaching business that earns $150,000 per year with each client paying $2000 per month. You would first need to get a handle on your niche, and the process you would need to take prospects through to buy a session. Then you’d set the challenge of landing a sale of $750 per month. And then $1000, and then $1500 per client, and so on.
Each time, the challenge is incrementally more of a stretch, but not so much of a stretch that you are incapable of dealing with it.
Shortcuts don’t work.
Small steps make discipline easier.
Build yourself up to things, and almost anything is possible.
Having someone guide you or hold you accountable can take this even further. Investing in a coach could be huge for you like it has been for me.
5. Build successful habits
Habits are things you do all the time without thinking about them. Your brain is wired to do them automatically.
Habits can be good for you, or bad for you.
Most people who appear incredibly disciplined just likely have better habits. Many famous writers, for example, have the habit of writing a certain number of words every day. They have built that habit muscle over time.
First, they take action, and then their brains adapt to the repeated action until it becomes easier to do.
Your job is to build small habits that help you get to where you want to go. The hardest part about building habits is the first month or two.
To really cement a new habit, whether it’s eating better or exercising, or creating online content, you would do it for sixty days in a row or more.
Once you’ve internalised that action, you’re flying, and suddenly discipline won’t even be a thing.
Many are saying how much my Book of Lift planner simplifies their daily life and makes them feel more in control.