8 Ways to Amp up Your Self-Discipline

Nothing in life is worthwhile unless you take risks. As Nelson Mandela said:

There is no passion to be found playing small and settling for a life that’s less than the one you’re capable of living.

But how do you get to a point where you have enough command over your mind to choose what’s in your own best interest? To push forward, push through and take those risks?

The answer is both simple and complex. It’s self-discipline.

It’s self-discipline that helps you get things done. Allows you to forgo the immediate pleasure in exchange for long-term success.

It’s what gets you to show up—even when every fiber of your being doesn’t want to. You do it anyway.

After all, you can’t win the battle against the world if you can’t win the war against your own mind. So we’re going to explore what it takes to dig deep and extract the self-discipline that lies within each of you, and how to stay motivated once you find it.

“The Resistance” {Aka your biggest obstacle to self-discipline}

woman covers her eyes in front of a wall

Resistance cannot be seen, touched, heard, or smelled. But it can be felt. We experience it as an energy field radiating from a work-in-potential. It’s a repelling force. It’s negative. It aims to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.

Stephen Pressfield, The War of Art

Resistance lives within you. No one (not your boss, parents, spouse or co-workers) inflicts it on you from the outside. You’re born with it and the moment you give yourself over to a dream of a creative occupation, The Resistance rears its ugly head. It keeps you from doing your best work by telling you:

  • I’m not good enough
  • I don’t have time for this
  • I’m a failure
  • What if this is a huge success?
  • Who do I think I am?

And any other number of negative self-talk strategies to keep you inside your head and inactive. You’ll never overcome your Resistance if you don’t change your mindset. What will happen is self-sabotage, self-doubt, procrastination and the inevitable burn out.

When you decided to transition your passion into a career, personal responsibility comes along with that. You’ve now labeled yourself a pro.

What does that mean exactly?

It means when The Resistance comes {and it will} you no longer have the luxury of bending to its will. You need to consciously choose to sit down each day and grind it out. You’re a pro and you go to work. You have pride in it. Out of the hard work you put in, gems will eventually blossom. Some days will be terrible {a LOT of days}. But after you continue to put in the work, and build the momentum, magic will happen.

To develop your potential, you have to show up. You need to execute the patterns that while imperceptible to you, are there. And they’re slowly building towards your success.

This is the only way to overcome The Resistance.

Related: How to Create a Daily Routine That Sticks

The secret to personal success? Taking personal responsibility.

In life, there’s only one person responsible for how things turn out – and that person is you.

Once you make peace with this, it no longer matters whose fault it is when something goes wrong…it’s your job to fix it. It’s your responsibility to figure out how you’re going to overcome it and find happiness.

It might be hard to hear, and even more difficult to accept, but fault and responsibility don’t go together. Your heart and your happiness is your responsibility and your responsibility alone. As long as you’re stuck in fault you’re trapped in victim mode and no amount of self-discipline will allow you to achieve success.

Unfortunately, you can’t shield yourself from the hardness of life. But if you look into the past, the greatest leaders have faced difficulty and struggles and it’s only made them more interesting. When you persevere through adversity and accomplish your goals you find out things about yourself you wouldn’t have gotten to know otherwise.

Let’s look at 8 ways you can liberate the self-discipline inside you, and how happiness helps you stay motivated once you find it.

liberate your self-discipline

1. Always sweat the small stuff

Happiness doesn’t come from big pieces of success but from the small pieces hammered out day by day. It happens in the present moment. You need to stop saying; “I’ll be happy when I just…” You’ll be as happy as you make up your mind to be now. Right now.

Being happy on the way doesn’t mean you can’t do great things. But instead it means you need to enjoy the journey. Take pride in small accomplishments. Take pride in yourself. If you truly want to create a more fulfilling life you need to highlight your progress along the way. Breaking down your goals into small pieces increases your ability to stay disciplined. The more you celebrate the small wins, the easier it is to stay focused on the big picture.

2. You need to suffocate your bullsh*t

Gary Vee gave a talk to a room full of entrepreneurs, successful business owners and up and comers—and he called them on their excuses. You see, for most of us, it feels far more comfortable to call out someone else on their shortcomings than to reflect on our own. We get into a habit of complaining that there’s too much to learn, things are changing too fast, or that we’re too busy. You need to find out what’s holding you back and put a stop to it. Once you take ownership of yourself, take a look around cause guess what—misery loves company.

You need to surround yourself with people who both nourish and inspire you. This isn’t optional, it’s a prerequisite. They say you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with…are those people feeding your fire?

3. Change your mindset, then take action

To sit back and list all the reasons you can’t …is, well, crap. Anyone can do it. It’s all about your mindset. The moment you have a losing mindset, you’ve already lost. I’m not talking about hanging out on your couch playing videos games and asking the universe to send you better clients, “secret style.” But, if you’re optimistic and you’re actions back that up…you position yourself somewhere close to the goals you want to achieve.

This isn’t just about talking a big game, you need to become a practitioner. Put in the hard work day after day. When you have the self-discipline and ambition you can figure out what you want your life to be. Build the momentum by setting small goals that you can meet daily, this will get the ball rolling in the right direction.

Related: A Positive Mindset in Business: 21 Tips for a Balanced Life

4. Find your mission

You need a personal mission. Now that we have all our basic needs met (food, water, shelter) we’re aimless without some sort of a purpose. It doesn’t need to be grandiose in scale, if you have a direction it helps you rise above the negative noise that comes with owning a business or simply interacting our in the world. It’s easy to get bogged down in negativity, we’re oddly attracted to it as humans.

When you have a mission, whether that’s to hire two new staff by the end of the year, or open your very first shop—the criticism you face or the stumbles you have along the way are in proportion to reality.

5. Feed your {healthy} ego

gary vee shows ego vs humility

You need pride and a healthy ego to get good at things. You have to have a strong belief in yourself and your ego drives you to be successful. But you need to balance it out. After all, there’s a dichotomy in everything. You don’t want to go too far. We’ve all witnessed the bodybuilder who starts to see results but doesn’t stop until he has 22-inch biceps or the artist driven to madness by perfectionism…you need to recognize when *good* is enough.

6. Kill your fear

People tend to avoid anything uncomfortable. Why is that? Experience tells us anything worth having in life connects to discomfort. Success. Adventure. Growth. Being uncomfortable is amazing at facilitating change.

Well, the simple answer is fear.

Fear of judgment from others. Fear of change. Fear of failure. Fear of success. You’re letting fear dictate your only life.

What if instead you could find fear motivating. Start to attack the things you’re scared of. You can learn to see that feeling of anxiety in the pit of your stomach as excitement. It’s all about re-framing. The best things in life are just on the other side of terror, but you need to take that first step.

7. Live without regret

Regret should scare the bejeezus out of you. In Bronnie Ware’s book, “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying” she recounts her time with terminal patients. They each express deep regret for the same few things:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so much.
  3. I wish I’d dared to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

We each only get one shot so you should be living your life the way you want. Whether that means traveling to guest spot in shops you’ve always dreamed of visiting or leveling up your skills so you can start working on clients who value your time.

It takes self-discipline to say no when friends are going out after work but you need to save money for a drawing class you’ve always wanted to take. Or saying yes to the opportunity that terrifies you—but will change your life. Don’t wait to take those chances.

8. Always fall forward

woman is doing tricks falling backwards

Denzel Washington gave an inspiring commencement speech at Dillard where he spoke about the concept of falling forward. He said:

I never understood the concept of having something to fall back on. I want to fall forward so I can see what I’m going to hit. Do something you feel passionate about, take chances, don’t be afraid to fail. Without consistency, you’ll never finish. Reggie Jackson struck out 2600 times in his career, the most in the history of baseball…but you never heard about that, people remember the home runs. Fall forward. Thomas Edison conducted 1000 failed experiments. 1001 was the light bulb. Fall forward.

I love this concept.

Growing up you’re told to have a “backup” dream, especially in the so-called “creative” fields. But to become successful you need to take risks. It requires the self-discipline of a person who knows that you will fail, you will lose. But you accept those challenges and embrace the stumbles as part of the adventure. You look at people who are better than you and know before they were great…they sucked. So you know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

Are you ready to take responsibility for your self-discipline?

Self-discipline is 90% showing up. After that, you just need to push through. You’re going to have days {oh, so many days} when you want to give up and quit but you keep doing it…because you’re strong. It’s that self-discipline that helps you move forward. Become successful. Stay motivated. Achieve happiness.

Let me ask you this: One day soon when you find yourself sitting in the dark are you going to stay there and wait for the light to come; or are going to pick yourself up and realize the only way out is to face your fears and become your own light?