Unless you’re one of the rise-and-grind, 6am (4am?) hustlers who never falls prey to a Netflix binge or doom-scrolling, you could probably use a little work on your self-discipline.
Deep down, you know that your nightly TikTok scroll isn’t as productive as putting your phone down two hours before bed.
Nor is letting slippery fingers sliver over to that last slice of cake when you’re trying to channel ‘my body is a temple’ and not indulge in sugar.
Yet, most of us lack militant self-discipline.
Improving upon our ability to control our feelings and our impulses is something that takes time and practice.
Being more disciplined in itself, requires…self-discipline. Which is often heralded as the key to success.
The question is, what do the super successful know that we don’t – particularly when it comes to practicing delayed gratification and boosting productivity.
Ready to learn their secrets?
1) They don’t wait for the right time to get started
You know the, yawn, stretch, I’m so tired.
Best not to start on that project today, I’ll get started tomorrow.
Or when it comes to trying to get healthier, you find an excuse to keep putting off implementing certain lifestyle changes.
Why start your diet this week if it’s your friend’s birthday?
Or why not just put off quitting smoking/vaping until the end of the month…
Successful people don’t find excuses to delay or put things off.
As soon as they have an idea or find a new habit they could benefit from, they implement it as soon as possible.
2) They hold themselves accountable, and find others to also do so
Being incredibly successful can come with a great deal of being hard on yourself when certain goals and milestones aren’t achieved.
But that tough love is what gets people to achieve their goals.
Hence why many people are not only strict when it comes to holding themselves accountable; they also incorporate other people to really make sure that they’re really getting to where they need to be.
This often comes in the form of a coach or mentor, or even another individual with whom a two-way accountability system can be set up.
So whilst you might not be at the stage of hiring a business coach, finding a friend who can help you stick to your goals can be useful.
Think fitness buddy who makes sure you get to the gym, or someone who will slap your hands away every time you try to bite your nails.
3) They visualize the outcome
Motivating yourself to get up every morning is a lot easier when you have something you’re striving for.
Whilst success looks different for everyone, successful people hone in on what they want to achieve and have a clear idea of what they want to achieve.
They have this goal in the back of their minds at most points in the day.
You’ll also likely find physical reminders in the homes/offices of the super successful that they’ll often glance over when in need of a reminder of what they’re working towards.
Think a frame of the first dollar they earned, or their grandfather’s memoir that inspires them everyday to work towards their goals.
4) They identify weaknesses and face them head on
Admitting the areas in which you fall short can be a little sore for the ego.
However, self-discipline means identifying where you’re falling short and being ready to face them head on.
It’s not pretending you’re perfect or glossing over your weaknesses, but being more than willing to learn how to better yourself and get down to the nitty-gritty of how you could be better.
5) They’re time-savvy and incredibly organized
Time is precious.
Self-discipline is the ultimate way to preserve time and be able to spend it in the wisest way when it comes to achieving goals.
Therefore it involves a great deal of planning and time management.
Think of it as each minute of planning saving 10 minutes of time down the line.
How much extra time would you have to work on your goals?
Prioritizing tasks according to importance, hitting deadlines, and delegating where needed.
Successful individuals check the boxes of all three and know that to get the most out of their day means sitting down in the morning or night and planning things out before they get started.
6) They set goals for every step of the way
The ultimate and end goal must be set very, very high, as to achieve more, you need to reach for more and believe yourself capable.
Not to be cliché, but “Shoot for the moon – even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars” in the beautiful words of Norman Vincent Peale.
However, to get even to the stars requires setting smaller and more realistic goals to monitor progress and help you climb that ladder.
Self-disciplined individuals don’t just throw themselves headfirst into pawing at the ladder and trying to climb before even knowing how to do so.
They learn the skills and gradually work their way upwards; using their accountability partners to make sure they’re hitting their targets.
7) They incorporate rewards for hitting certain milestones
Exceptional self-discipline means being able to delay gratification.
That means turning away from things that bring you short-term pleasure but get in the way of long-term goals.
Think splurging on a new bag or a holiday when you’re trying to save up to launch your new business.
Whilst successful and disciplined individuals practice delayed gratification, they also know when they can appropriately reward themselves for achieving certain goals.
If you never allow yourself any pleasure until what you consider success, how enjoyable is the actual journey?
And, what happens if you never get to where you want to be?
Thus, small and incremental rewards for achieving certain milestones spur the self-disciplined onwards.
Like a little taste of the goodness that is to come.
8) They do what they don’t want to
You know when there’s just something you really don’t like, that you don’t think you’re particularly good at, so you’d rather just…not?
A very basic example, but as a gym fanatic, I hate Romanian deadlifts.
The setup is a hassle and I get callouses and tend to break nails.
But, I know that my dislike probably means I need to do more of them, so I often program them first into my workouts.
In the words of David Goggins himself (considered one of the world’s top endurance athletes after an initially unhealthier lifestyle approach); “you are in danger of living a life so comfortable and soft that you will die without ever realizing your true potential”.
Savage, I know.
But get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
There are plenty of things that the uber successful don’t want to do (and let’s be honest, they probably now have assistants to do those things for them), but in that building period, they weren’t afraid to get their hands dirty.
9) They remove temptation
You can exercise all the self-discipline in the world, but it will still be a lot easier if temptations that might pull you off course are removed.
This means, at a basic level, throwing away vapes and cigarettes.
Getting rid of snacks that don’t fit how you’re trying to eat.
Deleting social media if you’re prone to letting your eyes wander…
Avoiding bars if you’re recovering/recovered from an alcohol addiction.
Even the most self-disciplined will still experience desires that don’t align with their goals.
The best way to remove the likelihood of giving in to those desires is to distance yourself from them.
Thus, knowing what tempts you and having certain barriers in place to avoid letting themselves even contemplate giving in to the devil’s calling.
10) They trust in themselves
Continuing to dip into the sea of self-discipline quotes we have out there, “whether you think you can or you can’t you’re right”, as the (incredibly successful) Henry Ford said,
Believing yourself lazy by nature and unable to stick to schedules will keep you in a state of sloth-like lethargy.
Self-discipline requires believing in yourself and your capability of reaching your goals.
Without that confidence, implementing many of these rigorous aspects of self-discipline will become moot.
That’s a secret many successful people share. They believed in themselves, even in the face of setbacks and rejection.
Courage drives the motivation for self-discipline, which in turn inspires success.
Keyed into self-discipline?
Learning to what degree successful people implement strict habits and follow a rigorous lifestyle can seem a bit exhaustive.
But now that you know the secrets, you can start incorporating them into your everyday life.
Whilst you might not be doing a triathlon tomorrow, the art of self-discipline and the beauty of it is that it becomes easier the more you enact it.
Lifestyle changes and delayed gratification become second nature, if practiced enough.
But when it comes to developing a better form of self-discipline, it could be that you’re not living your life aligned with a deeper sense of purpose
The consequences of not finding your purpose in life include a general sense of frustration, listlessness, dissatisfaction and a sense of not being connected with your inner self.
It’s difficult to enforce healthier lifestyle habits and improve your self-discipline when you’re not feeling in sync with yourself.
I learned a new way to discover my purpose after watching Ideapod co-founder Justin Brown’s eye-opening video. He explains that most people misunderstand how to find their purpose, using visualization and other self-help techniques.
However, visualization isn’t the best way to find your purpose. Instead, there’s a new way to do it which Justin Brown learned from spending time with a shaman in Brazil.
After watching the video, I discovered my purpose in life and it dissolved my feelings of frustration and dissatisfaction. This helped me to start taking control of my own life.