How to Become More Disciplined
Telling Me That Being Disciplined Requires Discipline Doesn’t Help—but the 5 Tips in This Article Do
Who should listen: Real estate agents and other sales professionals looking for practical, no nonsense advice proven to generate leads and build trusting relationships with clients.
Key idea: You already know what you need to do. All you need is the daily self-discipline to do it. Desire and implementation are the secret to success.
Action item: Take time to consume content. Learn something that will boost your credibility in the eyes of your clients.
We think you’ll agree that if building discipline was easy, then we’d all be rich, thin, buff, and smart. But it’s not, and we think it’s obvious that many of us could use some help in this department. Just look at some of the top Google keyword searches for the many ways people need help becoming disciplined:
- discipline and time management
- discipline and willpower
- discipline for success in life
- discipline in eating food
- discipline in everyday life
- discipline in exercise
- how to discipline yourself to wake up early
- how to get discipline to lose weight
- how to get discipline to study
It seems obvious from this sample that being told to just do it isn’t working.
There’s got to be a better way . . .
Tips for how to become more disciplined starting today
Leigh Brown, our guest on this week’s episode of Stay Paid, is fantastically authentic, generous, smart, and funny. She needs to be—she’s a successful agent (#1 in N. Carolina), an international motivational speaker, a coach, a CEO, and a podcast host. Her interview this week is full of Golden Nuggets, and she offers a highly original tip toward the end that we’ve never heard before.
But there’s one idea she discusses that isn’t very original. It’s as old as the hills:
There is no secret to creating and running a successful business. The only “secret” is to take action. Daily activities will determine your outcome.
In other words, you need to be sufficiently disciplined to take daily action that will get you closer to your goals. It’s fairly easy to be disciplined early on. You’re motivated, excited, and hopeful for the future.
However, as time goes on, being disciplined can become harder. You may feel beaten down by ill-conceived plans, economic downturns, crazy markets, and failures. But this is precisely when discipline and being consistent in taking action are the most important. Here are the tips you need to learn discipline that sticks:
1. Establish a routine
Phil Janecic, the founder of the website Mind of Steel, describes his own journey toward creating self-discipline in his life. His breakthrough moment was when he realized that “discipline is not about forcing yourself into doing hard work, but setting up your environment so that doing hard work becomes ‘normal’.” He decided to create an environment for himself that included a 30-minute routine for the start and end of his day.
- He chose the start of the day for his first routine to get him up and put himself into the right mindset for the day.
- He chose the end of the day for his second routine to give himself time to reflect on the day and slow his mind.
Janecic advises people to include no more than five tasks in each routine, but the fewer tasks you have, the quicker and more likely you are to get them done.
Here are a few of his suggestions for tasks that can make up a simple morning routine:
- Wake up at the same time every morning (including weekends)
- Drink some water
- Make your bed
- Engage in some light cardio
- Take time to journal ideas
We might advise you to:
- Return calls from the previous day
- Follow up with five leads
- Make 10 cold calls
- Post to your social media accounts
For the evening routine, Janecic suggests you try:
- Develop a to-do list for the next day
- Lay out the clothes you’re going to wear
- Read a book
- Do some light stretching
We’d suggest that you:
- Prioritize your to-do list for the next day
- Post to your social media accounts
- Handwrite five thank-you notes
- Make five cold calls
The most important part of these or any routine is that you do them every day for two to three months and not just when you feel like it. His advice is to keep it simple: 3-5 tasks, 10-30 minutes tops, 30-60 days minimum.
2. Push yourself into discomfort, a little bit at a time
We love this idea, and we’ve said it ourselves a hundred times in more or less the same words. Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits, calls it “discomfort training”. By whatever name, it describes the process of sticking with something (aka being sufficiently disciplined) until you become increasingly comfortable with the discomfort.
Notice we didn’t say stop feeling uncomfortable.
If something makes you uncomfortable, chances are pretty good you won’t overcome the discomfort. You can, however, can get accustomed to it. For example, if you twitch at the thought of making cold calls, then the more calls you make the less power your discomfort will have over you. Acknowledge your uneasiness, decide it won’t control you, and push ahead to make the calls.
Mark Twain summed up this idea in a way that only he could: “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”
3. Revisit your goals frequently
A powerful way to learn self-discipline is to consistently remind yourself why you want to be disciplined in the first place.
Are you trying to get to the point where you can bench press 200 pounds? Have you committed to building a $100,000 college fund for your children? Do you want to sell 10 houses for at least $375,000 a month? Do you want to write two whole life insurance policies a week for the next 12 weeks?
Whatever your why is, write it down in detail and post it in a place where you will see it daily.
If it’s a goal, then make it a S.M.A.R.T. goal—specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.
If it’s a vision, then you can write it down, but it may be more powerful to have a picture. Want to save for a debt-free honeymoon? Then put a picture of your destination on your bathroom mirror, your wall, or make it your desktop screensaver.
Remind yourself what you are working toward.
4. Remove temptation
This tip can be more difficult for some people than others. It certainly can help to clarify your commitment to being disciplined.
If what you want conflicts with something else you want, then prioritize and remove the temptation—get rid of the lower priority item.
- If you want to lose weight, then don’t bring high-calorie foods into your house.
- If you want to save money, then don’t browse travel websites.
- If you want 50 new leads, then block out the necessary time.
You get the idea.
5. Monitor your thoughts and words
Lao Tzu, the Chinese philosopher and founder of Taoism, is credited with saying something profoundly enlightened:
Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.
Without meaning to diminish the significance of Lao Tzu’s insight, we’d like to summarize his ideas and apply them to our discussion here about discipline: Stop. Making. Excuses.
If you find yourself saying you couldn’t follow up with a client because your phone’s battery died, that’s an excuse. Borrow a phone, go to the office and use a desk phone, find a plug and call, send an email instead.
If you find yourself routinely thinking about or making excuses, then you’re avoiding responsibility. From there, it is a small step to blaming everyone and everything but yourself for not meeting your goals.
To discipline yourself, you need to take responsibility for your actions.
These five tips are known to help people develop discipline, but they may not be the best tips for you. If you’re serious about learning how to have more discipline (and we assume you are because you’ve made it this far), then there are no shortage of books, articles, exercises, and techniques available to help.
As the months go by, you’ll find what works for you, and you can adjust your actions if you need to. For example, if your goal is to go to the gym in the morning, you might adjust your evening routine to include packing your gym bag the night before. If you’re packed and ready to go, it may be easier to keep your commitment . . . and that will be one more step toward more self-discipline.
The thing about being disciplined is you have to stick with whatever you’re doing every day. Consistency is key. Once you skip a day, it becomes so much easier to skip the second day and before you know it, you’re back where you started—little to no self-discipline and no progress toward your goal. But if you do skip a day or otherwise don’t follow through, then don’t beat yourself up. Recommit yourself, and be disciplined enough to try again.
Connect | Resources
- Website: https://www.leighbrown.com/
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