For my entire life I’ve felt like I don’t have any self-discipline and just can’t stick to the things I want to get done or that I set out to do.
This is not a good headspace for me to be in as it makes me not even try sometimes because I know that I haven’t stuck with anything consistently in the past and this time won’t be any different, so why bother?
Well, I don’t really have a choice, my desire to live life on my own terms is so important to me that I must figure out how to develop better self-discipline and get to a place where I can say I’m going to do something and know that I’m actually going to do it.
Knowing that I needed to develop discipline to help embrace my fears and reach my goals set me on the path of reading a ton of books and articles online searching for the answers.
It turns out that the answer is actually quite simple.
I need to start building credibility with myself, something I still do every single day.
The most important thing I do everyday is to make sure that I am continuing to build up that credibility through various small habits and routines.
This is why I have a strict morning routine that I follow each day.
Everyday I wake up and don’t want to go through it, I do it anyway and that strengthens the trust in myself to actually do the things I say I will.
By building more and more trust in myself everyday my self-discipline increases.
Starting Out Small
I didn’t start out with an elaborate morning routine that took a long time to complete.
I started out by saying I will do 3 pushups every single morning as soon as I get out of bed.
That’s it. I only have to do 3, I can do more but 3 must be done. There is no doing 6 one day and none the next. 3 everyday.
Honestly I felt incredibly stupid setting a goal this small but after the first 5 days I was just doing 10 everyday because I had already started and thought I may as well keep going.
This was working great, I started to feel really good about myself after a couple weeks. I said I would do 3 pushups everyday and I have done it everyday for 2 weeks. To me this was awesome and a sign that I could really do some work if I stuck to small habits like these each day.
There’s a book called “The Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy which is really good and goes into the some of the same ideas.
Time to Change It Up
I did this for 3 weeks then decided to start adding in extra habits.
I started to:
- Meditate for a minimum of 1 minute.
- Listen to 3 minutes of an audiobook.
- Drive to the gym, go inside, then go home immediately if I wanted.
- Work on my most important task of the day for 15 minutes
Sounds silly right?
It worked though.
- I would end up meditating for 5 – 10 minutes.
- I would listen to an audiobook for an average of 20 minutes.
- I would drive to the gym, walk inside and feel completely ridiculous if I just left immediately which meant I just started to work out and on average I do 10 – 12 sets minimum.
- I would start working on my most important task for the day, when the 15 minutes was up, depending on the task I would usually do another 15 minutes and sometimes if it was a more creative task like web design or writing I would end up doing a few hours.
I Learnt Something Incredibly Important
This has completely proved to me that the only thing stopping myself from being discipline and getting things done is setting goals that are too high for the person I am today to stick to.
I have tried implementing these habits many times in the past and failed by making the minimum requirement far too high.
Through this process I learned that the only difficult thing is getting started. Once you set that bar really low, you’ll exceed it almost every time and if you don’t you still did what you set out to do and your discipline is building.
Exceeding your own expectations is far more powerful than failing to live up to them.
It builds a positive feedback loop that compounds over time and I have no doubt in a few years from now my life will look drastically different than anything I could even imagine today.
Give it a go, even if you feel stupid setting tiny goals.
Try it anyway and let me know how it goes in the comments below.