How to Use Mental Discipline for Success
Why is Discipline Important?
At its core, mental discipline is the ability to control your feelings and overcome your weaknesses.
When you have mental discipline you’re able to resist the temptation of laziness and procrastination and do what needs to be done.
Your level of mental discipline is directly linked to your motivation and your self-image, as well as your success and failure.
Without discipline, it’s virtually impossible to achieve anything great over the long term.
Because nothing worthwhile is easy, and our brains are programmed to spare us from the pain of tedium and confusion.
The only thing that can override your desire to quit is having the mental discipline to keep going until you have what you set out for.
Can You Learn Mental Discipline?
You can definitely learn mental discipline, but not by reading a book or talking about it.
Applying mental discipline means being able to overcome short term inconveniences so you can achieve your long term objectives.
Example: You want to start a business.
But you have to design a viable business model and plan, set up your infrastructure, hire staff, market yourself, sell, provide exceptional customer service, monitor finances, budget spending, and the list goes on.
Most people get too overloaded with having to do all this so they keep their goal of starting a business in the “one-day” pile.
They never have their own business.
Others with more mental discipline learn to suck it up. “This sucks,” they say, “but it must be done.
If I want my business to be successful I have to sacrifice now so I can have it tomorrow”.
Another example is martial arts, or learning anything really.
It takes time, repetition, and sacrifice.
You have to turn up to practice almost daily (if you want to be above average) and be willing to feel foolish at the start.
There used to be a sign in the dojo I trained that read “A BLACKBELT IS A WHITE BELT WHO JUST KEPT SHOWING UP”.
What Are the Benefits of Mental Discipline?
Regardless of what you’re trying to accomplish, that’s what mental discipline is all about.
The inner strength to keep showing up.
When you're tired, you go anyway. Cold? Turn up anyway. Lazy? Do it anyway.
Sounds simple and in theory, it is, but in reality, it’s one of the most difficult things for people to do.
Look at everyone who has a vice they wish they didn't have. People who know they should quit (or start) something but don’t.
When you look at people who have accomplished great things, they all have one thing in common;
They applied self-discipline and mental strength to get where they are.
How Do You Build Mental Discipline?
Mental discipline comes from determination and desperation.
If something's important enough to you you’ll get it done. Simple as that.
In today’s padded society people shy away from things that take time, effort, and sacrifice.
But you have goals, you have important things you want to accomplish in your short time on earth.
Here are 9 ways you can build your own mental discipline...
1. Know Your Weaknesses
The first step in building your mental discipline is knowing your weaknesses.
What areas are you least disciplined?
Do you know the triggers that sabotage you and break your discipline?
You need to understand your weaknesses so you can go about repairing them.
Once you know your weak areas, the ones you have the least discipline in, and need to improve, you can be extra vigilant when you find yourself in a vulnerable position.
Instead of losing your discipline and giving way to temptation, you’ll instead to stand strong in the moment and resist.
2. Resist the Temptation to Quit
Building mental discipline becomes a harder when you give yourself the option to quit.
If you want to eat less sugar, why do you have a packet of chocolate biscuits in your cupboard?
A coaching client of mine wanted to stop smoking pot, she felt it was holding her back from achieving her goals because it made her feel lazy and paranoid.
She was so used to having it in the house, every time she’d see it or smell it, her desire to smoke would be ignited, and once she did that was it.
Any plans of productivity she had for that day were out the window.
When she removed everything in her house related to smoking pot, while difficult at first, she managed to stop smoking and take her life in a new direction.
Removing temptations is a huge step in building mental discipline.
Once your mental discipline gets to a certain point, having the temptation in front of you won’t matter.
But until that time, remove all temptations.
3. Cultivate a Winners Mindset
Discipline, like health, wealth, and success, is a lifestyle choice.
You have no say in where you were born or under which conditions.
But as an adult, with a functioning brain and a modicum of ambition, there’s no reason why you can’t improve your position in life.
A disciplined life begins with a disciplined mindset.
Do you have one?
If you have a choice to work on a long term goal, even though it might be tedious and offer no immediate rewards, or go and do something “fun”, which do you choose?
People who don’t have a disciplined mindset are often victims of their short term emotions.
Having the mental strength (mindset) to overcome short term distractions in favor of longer-term objectives is a sign of a disciplined mind and a disciplined life.
Success is the manifestation of prolonged periods of applied mental discipline.
4. Take on More Responsibility
True responsibility requires mental discipline.
You run a business. Your clients and your staff rely on you.
But today you don’t feel like showing up to the weekly strategy meeting. It’s cold outside and you want to stay in bed.
Think you’ll stay in bed? Hell no.
You have a responsibility and people are relying on you.
Exercising your self-discipline at times like these isn’t a choice, it’s a must. If you don't do it you suffer negative consequences.
To strengthen your mental discipline, take on more responsibility.
Don’t give yourself a choice. Make it so it simply must be done
Today's quality of life (for the developed world) is the best it’s ever been in history.
We have the luxury to choose to do nothing.
Historically if you chose to do nothing you'd starve and be excluded from the tribe.
Discipline was a survival tool. You had to do it or you’d die, so you did it.
Imagine if today you approached your goals and dreams with the same sense of urgency as if your life depended on it.
That business you’ve been saying you want to start, you would already have it.
The excess body fat you’ve wanted to lose, you would have already lost it.
Lack of mental discipline comes from a lack of personal responsibility.
Load yourself up with meaningful responsibility.
When you know you absolutely must do something, a part of you awakens and your mental discipline kicks into overdrive.
5. Renew Your Self-Identity
How do you see yourself?
As a go-getter or a lazy no-hoper?
Your self-image determines how you think, what you do, your ambitions (or lack of), and the direction your life will take.
To have mental discipline you need to see yourself as a disciplined person.
Or more importantly, you need to BE a disciplined person. Anything less is unacceptable.
So how do you “be” self-disciplined if up until now you’ve lived an undisciplined life?
You need to have goals that sufficiently motivate you to be disciplined.
You need to have something in your life that if you had it, would be worth all the sacrifice, discomfort, and effort it took to get it.
When you have a compelling vision for your future, your self-discipline comes to the party.
You already have all the tools for success. You just need a catalyst to awaken them.
When you align how you see yourself with a worthy goal or objective your mental discipline knows what to do.
See yourself as a self-disciplined successful person.
Act like that person in your day to day life.
Over time you will be that person.
6. Set clear goals with an execution plan
Which brings us to goals.
Your goal should awaken in you the motivation and self-discipline needed to acquire it.
If it doesn’t then choose another goal.
Once you have your goal you need a plan on how you intend to get it.
When you have a plan, your goal moves from a fantasy to a potential reality.
The only thing, repeat the only thing, that will prevent you from achieving your most important goals is not having the mental discipline to see it through to the end.
That’s the only thing.
Set your goals. Design your plan and enact that plan.
As you start to make progress your discipline strengthens, enabling you to make more progress.
The cycle continues until you have the relevant competence to make your goal a reality.
Hard fact: You will never achieve your goals if you don’t have the mental discipline to stick at it until the end.
7. You build your mental discipline by doing
You can go to amazon.com and buy the 10 best selling books on self-discipline.
You can buy tickets to a seminar from the latest self-help guru so they can teach you how to be more disciplined.
Talk about it, write about it, heck, sing about it. But until you do it yourself nothing else will work.
You don’t build your self-discipline at a time that’s convenient for you.
It’s the times you don’t want to do something that counts.
It sounds simple because it is. Success doesn’t have to be complicated.
You build your self-discipline by putting yourself in situations that require you to be self-disciplined.
8. Change your habits
Habits have the power to make our lives a brilliant success or an epic failure.
That’s right, your habits.
Those little things you do day in and day out that you don’t even think much about.
When you change your habits you change your life, literally.
How different would your life be over ten years if you never exercised compared to going to the gym 5 times per week?
That one habit over time would create a completely different life.
Think of all the ramifications that come from better health, a better appearance, living in a state of natural high from the endorphin rush, and increased self-confidence.
When you’re making new habits start small. It’s a lot easier and it lasts a lot longer.
If you never exercise and you commit to starting at the gym 2 days a week at moderate intensity, you have a much higher chance of sticking with it.
But if you go from no exercise to doing intense bootcamp classes 5 days a week (though that's what you should be working towards), you'll be more inclined to quit.
9. Repetition Leads to Mastery
You don’t become a master by doing something once.
Mastery takes repetition over time.
To build a rock-solid mental discipline you need to use your discipline muscles over and over and over again.
Whatever area of your life you feel you lack enough discipline, that’s where you want to focus all your resources.
Get one sorted then move onto another.
when you commit to personal excellence and you’re willing to apply focus and mental discipline, you’ll be amazed at the life you can make for yourself.
Quotes About Mental Discipline
“With self-discipline most anything is possible.” - Theodore Roosevelt
“You can never conquer the mountain. You can only conquer yourself.” - Jim Whittaker
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” - Aristotle
“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments.” - Jim Rohn
“By constant self-discipline and self-control, you can develop greatness of character.” Grenville Kleiser
“The pain of self-discipline will never be as great as the pain of regret.” Anonymous