Personal Development & Discipline

This is a continuation of my previous post on discipline. Scroll down or click here to read it.

Personal development isn’t egoistic. It is the best life strategy.

Don’t be ashamed to take time for yourself and to invest in your own development. I’m not talking about video-games here.

Whatever higher goals you have set in your life, being it saving the world, financial success or carrying for your family, you won’t be able to achieve them without first doing some upgrades on yourself. Higher goals demand higher energy, both mental and physical.

Without personal development, the high end, high-energy tasks needed to succeed in life, will only lead to burnout and ulcers. And how is that going to help anyone? You might end up needing help yourself.

A high-performance life without personal development is like racing the Formula 1 with a 5-door sedan. It’s going to go off-track, blow up and burn in ashes.

I’ve recently talked about discipline. It is a superpower. And it’s not an optional one if you want any kind of success. Take any of the high performers you know – like Michael Jordan or Schwarzenegger – and you will see that discipline was what propelled them on top of the world.

By the way, it works the other way around too: without discipline you won’t be able to achieve anything. It takes discipline to learn to walk, talk, write, be healthy, make money, have a long-lasting relationship… be a successful human being.

I’m sure you know in great detail how disciplined you are. Or better said, where you lack discipline. Please don’t shame yourself if you’re not doing great. Don’t associate discipline with punishing yourself or with other negative thoughts. It will only make it worse.

Also, if you’re not like mofo Goggins don’t try to be suddenly disciplined with big tasks. You might fail so bad that you will lose momentum and never try again. That’s the worst! Not trying again, I mean.

Instead, try to sneak in small changes that alter your behavior. Give yourself a bit of time to adapt.

Think of discipline as intentional habit training. You will need to enforce discipline until it becomes a habit. That’s roughly a month of repeated – and enforced – behavior. Once you are confident it has become a habit, upgrade it, but only push the boundaries a bit. Not as much as to disrupt your habit. You don’t up your daily 10-minute walk to a HURT 100 Trail Run: if you’ll need weeks to recover, your whole habit building is down the toilet.

So, as you see, discipline is also related to patience. Discipline is patient habit training. It also needs to be consistent.

Now after reading the above, don’t think  that you will only have to be disciplined for a month until a habit was formed. It sure gets easier as time passes but discipline isn’t a one-time game. Maintaining habits takes discipline too. That’s also why you constantly have to push boundaries. The higher level you achieve, the fewer chances are you’ll give up on a good habit: if you have trained yourself to run ultramarathons, you most likely won’t fall back to pizza and gaming.

Discipline is also rewarding. Once you consciously implement a good habit – even the smallest one – and can maintain it without great effort you will be proud of yourself. That (repeated) good feeling will reinforce your inner reward system making it easier to amp your game and form new good habits.

So, here is a simple plan for you to start small. Don’t push to hard against your comfort limit… at first.

One good (and easy) habit to develop is stretching before you go to bed and after waking up. Make it 5 minutes or less. No push-ups or other “hard” stuff. Just stretching in all directions. It will relax you for a good night sleep and open you up for a new good day. Every day.

This kind of small habit-forming exercises will not only make you feel good but will also train your will power. Marinate this in a lot of patience and I can guarantee you will see progress. Not right away, but add more good habits and when you’ll look back in a year or so, you will be proud of yourself.

Start today!