By Brittney Bergen
“I wish I had your level of discipline.” If I had a dime for every time I heard a similar statement uttered to or about someone successful, I wouldn’t be living in my parents’ garage. 🙂 As a society, we tend to look at those who have achieved status in something that requires hard work with a kind of holy reverence, as though “discipline” is some rare trait only the elite are born with. We look at women and men with “ideal” bodies, entrepreneurs who have achieved the epitome of a bustling business, or competitors who have attained athletic prowess, and though we desire that for ourselves, we see them as different and explain away their success: “They must have been born with more discipline than I have.”
I am here today to tell you that discipline isn’t some sort of mythical characteristic that few are born with; it’s something that each of us have, and can hone. Here’s how:
- Employ forced optimization.
Forced optimization – put yourself in a situation that creates eustress – (“eu” from Greek, meaning “good,” and “stress) positive stress that pushes you to perform and progress towards your goal with more urgency than you would without it. It means signing up for the competition before you are ready; hiring the personal trainer; joining the coaching group. Whatever your goal is – make a commitment that will force you to take leaps towards it daily or weekly. Brainstorm five forced-optimization strategies you could employ now.
- Invest in yourself and your business.
Pay to have the best coach. Read the challenging books. Attend the expensive conference. Those who have found success have, or have had, similar financial struggles as you, but they always find a way to invest in themselves. Robin Sharma calls this the “2x3x principle” – he says, “To double your income and impact, triple your investment in personal growth and development.” What can you invest in this month, quarter, year to aid in your growth and development? Jot down two things for each time period immediately.
- Create rituals.
Create rituals to get the work done even when you lack motivation. Set your alarm for the same time every morning, and get up whether you feel like it or not. Mix your workout shake and press play on your training playlist at the same time each day – no excuses. Develop a morning routine with meditation, journalling, and reading (sign up for my newsletter to get your free five minute journal – the Daily Difference Maker). If you wait for motivation you’ll be waiting forever to see success – if you rely on rituals you can start tomorrow and you’ll be closer to your goal before you know it.
- Compare yourself to the best.
“The only competition we should have is against who we were yesterday.” “Don’t compare yourself with others.” “Strive to be a better you each day.” We’ve heard it all, but does it work? The harsh truth? Not if you really want to become the best you possibly can! Sure, we can get a little bit better each day using these philosophies, but if we want to push ourselves harder and become our absolute best we might as well study champions because they’ve already done it. What do you want to improve at? Who can you observe who is already crushing it in that area of life? What can you do to close the gap between your success and theirs? Come up with at least one role model to chase after.
- Make your goals non-negotiable; be selfish
The most disciplined are non-negotiable when it comes to their goals – you should be too! Ask the best body builder when he is prepping for a meet if he wants a drink; he will say no. Ask the best businesswoman if she wants to party the night before a big presentation; she will politely decline. What are the goals, dreams, and practices that you need to make non-negotiable?
- Visualize your ideal.
Like the most successful athletes and entrepreneurs – become a visualization expert! The bodybuilder has a vision of what she will look like posing on the stage. The business owner imagines the next marketing strategy with the same color and detail as a proficient painter; it comes to life in his mind long before we see it on a screen. Whatever you want in life, imagine it! The more life you can breathe into your day-dreamed future, the more likely you are to create it. Make a vision board for your life this week.
- Utilize accountability strategies.
Rely on others to enforce your essential practices. The best athletes have coaches and training partners expecting them to show up to practice each and every day. The most successful business people join mastermind groups to challenge their current conventions and learn novel ideas. Even those who achieve profound weight loss have hired a nutrition coach to whom they must report to every morning. What do you need to be held accountable in? What strategies can you put into place this week to ensure your success?
- Forget the quick fix; fall in love with the process.
When we observe the best athletes, business people, artists, we behold the finished product; we do not witness their process. Most of these people have toiled for years to become who they are when we see them on television, on the internet, or in a magazine. Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes roughly 10 000 hours of practice at anything to achieve mastery, but we usually see these stars once most of their work’s been done.
The top athletes, entrepreneurs, and artists all reached their level of success because they had a crazy love of their craft that pushed them to practice it for hours on end. Those who get the ideal bodies do it because they are filled with passion for the process of training and fueling their bodies with nourishing food.
What are your dreams? What are the things you wish you had today? Forget today, and figure out what processes you need to fall in love with in order to live your dream one day. There is no quick fix – make a written commitment to yourself today to trust the process that will get you there.
- Surround yourself with like-minded individuals.
“You become who you have coffee with.” – Robin Sharma
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn
Spend time with other peak performers and learn by osmosis their techniques and thoughts. Entrepreneurs at a party naturally flock to others innovating in business. Get a group of CrossFitters together and they’ll plan their next wicked WOD.
Don’t have access to like-minded individuals where you are? Read books! You can spend time with some of the greatest masters of all time through reading. Eventually you’ll attract more likeminded people when you find yourself in a new environment.
Discipline isn’t some mystical characteristic the elite are born with. It’s something each and every one of us has and can practice. Implement these nine strategies and when people say to you, “I wish I had an ounce of your discipline!” respond with a smile, “You can.”
Click here to learn more about having Brittney Bergen as your personal success coach.