How do you explain the fact that you are so far behind in your accounting, that you are paying so much interest? “I don’t like to do accounting. I put it off, day after day, until the light turns red and I no longer have any choice.”
Self-discipline is doing what needs to be done, even when we aren’t motivated to do it.
What do people who are successful in their fields have in common? They are disciplined. They set goals, develop action plans and carry them through, even when they don’t want to. They do what has to be done, when it must be done.
Being disciplined requires putting off pleasure (postponing renovation projects for two years) and sometimes saying an outright no to certain pleasures (purchasing machinery or having an extramarital affair). It also means accepting a bit of “suffering” in order to eventually receive a much greater payoff at a later date (doing the accounting rather than going shopping in town).
Being disciplined also means managing your impulses, whether they are to get angry, to eat, to drink or even sexual ones. Acting on our impulses without thinking first can put us in a bad situation with respect to our finances, health or our relationships, to such a degree that we may endanger our own future or that of others.
I have met several entrepreneurs who are not lacking in intelligence or technical knowledge but do need discipline in their lives.
Are the behaviours you choose each day and the habits you have developed bringing you closer to your goals, or are they distancing you from them?
How can you increase your personal discipline?
After identifying your long-term objectives and establishing an action plan, it might be worth considering the following steps:
- Make a commitment to someone regarding your goal.
- Focus on the long-term benefits you will receive by making this choice as well as the negative long-term effects of not doing it.
- Remember that each action you take today will affect your future.
- Visualize yourself doing what you have decided to do (e.g. “I see myself doing my accounting.”).
- Identify the smallest action, no matter how small it might be, as the first step you must take to accomplish the task, and then do it (e.g. putting on your walking shoes and jogging suit to go for a walk).
- Feel the satisfaction and pride that you will have after accomplishing this task.
- Do not wait to be motivated to take action. Motivation follows action, not the opposite.
- Tell yourself that you’re sometimes choosing to suffer a little bit now in order to avoid suffering a great deal later. For example, not buying this equipment and avoiding the long-term stress of being in debt and enjoying freedom later.
Discipline is an essential emotional skill for personal and professional success. It’s great to have all the talent and intelligence in the world, but without discipline you will not have any truly valid results. How do you develop discipline? It’s a question of discipline…
Work Psychologist, professionnal speaker, author and business coach