Why Self-Discipline Is the Key to SuccessOct 10, 2022
If you want to know your future, you don't need a crystal ball. All you need to do is look at your behaviors and your habits.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
And he's right, of course. But, again, it comes down to your self-discipline. You are what you repeatedly do every day. So, whatever you are doing or not doing is what you will become.
Like, do you even have the self-discipline to read this blog?
The Motivation Story
Let's say you feel motivated by a song or watching a great movie like Rocky (that one gets me every time).
Maybe you hear a fantastic speech from a motivational speaker like Les Brown, Tom Bilyeu, Eric Thomas, Patrick Bet-David, or Ed Mylett. And perhaps, their lessons light a fire in you. They inspire you to get up off of the couch and then say,
"That's it! I will get up early first thing tomorrow morning, and I'm going for a run!"
Great! You made a decision. Well done. I love and applaud that!
You go to sleep later than you like because the adrenaline from the stimulation is still going. You're thinking about that initial spark of motivation you experienced earlier. But eventually, you finally fall asleep.
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
The alarm goes off at 5:00 a.m. on the dot. You're used to sleeping in until 7:00 a.m., so this hurts. It feels like you've been hit by a truck. You hit snooze like you usually do, but then you vaguely remember the song/movie/speech from the night before, which gave you the initial jolt of motivation.
“Crap…” you utter.
You turn off snooze and mosey out of bed to find your running shoes and workout clothes. You brush your teeth, go to the bathroom and fill your water bottle. You look at the clock, and it now says 5:20 a.m.
“Crap!” you exclaim.
Time seems to move faster because you are moving slowly — time to run.
You've got your stuff ready to go. You get to the front door and open it, and whoosh! Freezing wind rushes in, hitting you like a thousand knives.
You slam the door, whip out your phone and look at the temperature. It's below freezing outside with a terrible wind chill.
Now, you're looking at the clock, the temperature, and the "voice of mediocrity" starts creeping in, telling you why you shouldn't bother working out and go back to bed.
Where's the motivation now?
Last night, you were fired up and ready to fight Ivan Drago for the glory of your country and to avenge Apollo Creed, and now? What happened?? Where did all that energy go? Where did the motivation disappear to? It seems you got up, but your inspiration stayed in bed.
Motivation Will Fail You
Here is the reason why motivation is useless. It comes and goes and ebbs and flows, and when you need it the most, it seems to have vanished into thin air.
This is why it is beyond paramount that we cultivate self-discipline.
Self-discipline is doing what you say you will, no matter how you feel. It is the critical component to achieving all goals and dreams. It can control one's feelings and overcome all temptations and weaknesses to progress and get things done.
The individuals who rely on motivation to accomplish their goals or progress will lose. Conversely, the individuals who implant self-discipline daily and consistently will always win.
When it comes to training, self-discipline is essential. When that alarm goes off in the morning, you're tired, sore, and feeling no motivation. You must go to lose weight, burn fat, or improve your strength. Yes, it's hard initially, especially in the first weeks of training. But then, something happens. It becomes a habit.
Summoning the willpower to implement self-discipline becomes much more comfortable and accessible. You assess your growth, realizing that when you started, it was awful, but now? Waking up at 5:00 a.m. has become relatively easy and second nature to you. You feel that sense of pride again, and as a result, willpower turns into determination and drive.
Now, you desire to see how far you can go. Therefore, you are driven to maintain self-discipline and work.
In the beginning, working out wasn't something you looked forward to, but self-discipline ensured that you hit every rep and set.
Initially, you hated the food you had to give up, but self-discipline ensured you didn't cheat and hit your macronutrient and caloric goals.
The self-discipline to stick to the diet also ensured you weren't sneaking cookies and ice cream. It also cultivated accountability in the process.
Initially, you wanted to stay up late, binge-watching Netflix, but self-discipline held you accountable for getting the proper rest you needed to recover.
Most people look for shortcuts or hacks or the "secret."
There is no secret. It's called hard work and sweat. So stop looking for the easy way out. If you want to take the easy road, it won't take you to where you genuinely want to be.
Stronger. Smarter. Faster. Leaner. Healthier. Better.
How Motivation Actually Works
Something else to note — I often hear from different people and studies that the more you use willpower or discipline throughout the day, the harder it is to stick to it as the day goes on. That willpower is like a fuel tank; as you travel and move through your day, it starts to drain. This way, it becomes easier to give in to temptation later in the evening.
I'm afraid I have to disagree.
When I wake up in the morning, it takes self-discipline to make my bed. I have no motivation to do it, but I get it done and feel a small sense of pride afterward.
That little nugget of goodness I feel (pride and accomplishment) inspires me to go then and brush my teeth. But, unfortunately, I don't have the motivation to do it. My motivation wants a cup of coffee, but I delay the gratification to do what must be done — another sense of accomplishment.
Since it's still early, I am motivated to go back to sleep, but self-discipline helps me overcome the obstacles to show up and attack my workout at the gym. Then, once I'm there training, I'm flying now.
The actions I took as a result of self-discipline gave birth to motivation from the little moments of pride I felt.
Action precedes motivation. Motivation follows action. The activity takes place as a result of self-discipline.
After I have finished working out, I return home, shower, return emails and messages on social media, and then get ready for the workday.
Not to brag, but I have accomplished much more than most of the population. They stayed in bed, and I checked the goals off my list. They relied on motivation. I relied on discipline. Self-discipline.
As they wake up, I'm already in fifth gear, flying past them and moving ahead. I have this momentum because I started my day with self-discipline.
Do what you must do, and you feel pride. Get the work done, and you will feel a sense of accomplishment. Attack the hard stuff now and head-on. You then experience ease because now you've accomplished your daily goals. This habit allows you to choose how you want to spend your day. That's freedom.
I can choose whether I'd like to work on more goals or relax. I have earned it. But because I started the day with self-discipline, I created momentum to achieve my tasks. That feels ten times better than giving in to temptation.
For example, I won't cheat on my diet later in the day because the momentum of self-discipline and accomplishment is so strong at this point that it can't be stopped. I want the pride of going to sleep that night, knowing that I gave it my absolute all as I look back on my day. Then when do I wake up tomorrow? I get to do it again.
Imagine a week of doing this. Imagine a month. How about a year? The progress you make in terms of your joy and growth, and goals will leave people astounded and in awe of your accomplishments.
Becoming the best version of yourself requires self-discipline. It is the driver and the engine of daily execution and accomplishment. This fundamental element overcomes temptations, laziness, procrastination, excuses, and mediocrity. Self-discipline gives us the power to delay gratifications that would sidetrack us off of the path to our goals and dreams. More importantly, it gives birth to drive.
As Simon Sinek brilliantly stated:
“Being driven is not the same as being passionate. Passion is a love for the journey. Drive is a need to reach the destination.”
The Self-Discipline Story
Let's revisit that story I told earlier, but this time with a person driven by self-discipline.
Let's say you feel motivated by a song or watching a great movie like Rocky (that one gets me every time). Maybe, you hear this fantastic speech from motivational speakers like Les Brown, Tom Bilyeu, Eric Thomas, Patrick Bet-David, or Ed Mylett. And perhaps, their lessons light a fire in you. A spark. They inspire you to get up off of the couch and then say,
"That's it. I will get up early first thing tomorrow morning, and I'm going for a run."
This person feels motivated, yet they aren't focused on that. The difference is that they take action right that second to follow through on the decision they have made.
They prepare everything the night before. They set out their workout clothes, their shoes, and water bottle. Their gear is in order. Then, if they want a pre-workout or some caffeine before they go, it's set up and prepped before going to bed.
The morning routine begins the night before. It starts before they go to bed. They have set themselves up for success in the morning.
They set the alarm and then go to sleep.
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
The alarm goes off at 5:00 a.m. They immediately turn it off. They do not hit snooze because time is fleeting and of the essence. They get out of bed and make it. They put their workout clothes and shoes on and then head to the kitchen. Their pre-workout or coffee was prepared the night before, so it's ready to go. They down it.
They go to the door and open it, and whoosh! Freezing air comes in and hits their face like a thousand knives.
They shut the door recognizing that they have no desire to run out there. However, they don't care. They decided they were going to work out. The driven person turns around, grabs a beanie, walks to the door, opens it, and then goes running.
See the difference?
Lessons Learned for Life
There's a saying in the military,
"Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance."
The driven individual who has made self-discipline a habit never slacks off on their preparation. It is vital to their chances of success to win the war in the morning.
If you can win the war in the morning and have a preparation routine the night before, you have now bookended your day with phases of time that you completely control. This will help you to cultivate the habit of controlling your emotional states.
When your day is bookended like this, which enables you to have emotional control, you will have a much greater chance of success during the middle of the day. But, unfortunately, that's when things are out of your control.
If self-discipline is the key to:
- Overcoming our obstacles
- Achieving our goals
- Achieving our dreams
- Becoming the best version of ourselves
Then you absolutely must make it a daily habit if you want to level up and become a better person. A person with confidence knows they can overcome any obstacle and climb any mountain because you have built the competence to do the work. Whether you feel motivated or not.
Outside the gym, dojo, or studio, we can move on to other areas and topics of our lives, exercising this habit of self-discipline.
You will have the self-discipline to delay gratification and save your money.
You will have the self-discipline to outwork everyone at your job.
You will have the self-discipline, drive, and accountability to level up in all of your relationships, whether they are romantic, platonic, or business-related.
Your name will be stellar because your self-discipline will create a reputation as one who produces and gets things done.
Individuals with self-discipline won't be sidetracked if they have the motivation or even if they are "feeling it" or not.
They do not shy away from putting in the work. They always walk their talk and see things through. They back up their decisions with action because they have learned not to need motivation or even the right emotions to get it done.
They need one thing to come from within self-discipline. It comes from yourself, and it is a choice — a decision.
We make decisions all the time. We choose what time we will wake up, what groceries we will buy, to what vacations we will take. Choosing to act when you feel motivated is also a decision.
I implore you to make a different choice.
The more challenging choice, yes, but no doubt the option which will benefit you more than any other in the long run.
Those that follow physical skills like lifting, dance, yoga, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or running choose to live with self-discipline every day. The ones who have excelled and not missed classes or training sessions are the ones who live with self-discipline.
The self-discipline cultivated from all physical regimens benefits every other aspect of your life. It will never fail you when you summon its power. You will always progress in all areas of your life due to conditioning this skill.
Choose to abandon motivation and embrace self-discipline.
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