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  • Writer's pictureWendy Bradfield

How to Master the Grand Poobah of Personal Development: Self Discipline

Updated: Jul 1, 2021

7 ugly truths, 3 pleasant ones, and a few myth busters

Astonishingly, 98% of people croak off without achieving their dreams. Are you shocked? You should be. Are you going to be one of them? I’m not. My loftiest dream was to be a professional belly dancer in Egypt — I did it. Next, I want to be a writer — a damn good one. We shall see. Something tells me you will let me know how I’m doing.

Self-discipline is the sorcerer’s stone for us mortals. Its power allows us to scale our lives systematically. It’s your superhuman power. It’s definitely mine, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Over the last two years, self-discipline has proved a steady means for my achievements. I’ve lost 44 pounds, earned another degree, adopted a vegan diet, quit drinking, started sleeping 8 hours nightly, tackled my depression, and launched a writing career — all while working a full-time job. I am content. I’ve accomplished more with self-discipline than any other resource, including money.

When you apply discipline to your pain points, you struggle less. The trick is to lean into it a little more each day. Everything benefits: Health, career, relationships, and more. As I cultivate more discipline in my life, I get to know its elusive nature better.

These are my findings…

#1 Big ugly truth — Socials and Netflix

Manage the time you spend on your socials and Netflix — it’s non-negotiable. Get over it already. And unfollow the accounts that make you feel like sh*%. You know the ones. The side-effects are bonafide.

Dr. Jeremy Nobel MD, MPH of Harvard Health Blog, says a study performed by the University of Pennsylvania shows students who reduced the amount of time spent on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat to 30 minutes daily over three weeks experienced less loneliness and depression. It’s true. I unfollowed the accounts that make me feel like sh*% about 3 months ago, and I feel loads better.

What’s more, 3 weeks ago, I was moaning about how the hell people read 4 books a month because I want that. Last week I bought a book, said fu%* Netflix for a minute, and finished the book in 2 days. I surprised myself. Now I’m hooked. I spend more time on quality pursuits, and it feels glorious.

#2 Ugly truth

At first, discipline is like flipping burgers a Mcdonald’s — loathsome and wretched. It will pass. We crave homeostasis, but we also want to feel better. That means we need to adopt better habits. There is only one way through the fire — through the fire. Everyone goes through the initiation cycle. Stop sniveling.

#3 Annoying ugly truth

You can’t skip steps along the way. Cultivating discipline requires you to do what you intend to do when you say you will. Consider finding a way to enjoy your process. It’s not about the result. It’s about changing your lifestyle for the long term. Author of Atomic Habits, James Clear says:

“look at the people who stay focused on their goals, you start to realize that it’s not the events or the results that make them different. It’s the commitment to the process. They fall in love with the daily practice, not the individual event.”

The secret is to create a plan you know you can execute and show up. Many think they can skip to the end. For the love of all things good — don’t. You are building a foundation for lasting change. Each step brings you closer to the momentum you seek. Find a way to enjoy the ride.

#4 Ugly truth

People wonder how, when, and where inspiration and motivation will show up. Colossal secret: Discipline is the first layer. Habit is the second layer. Everything flows from there.

#5 Ugly hard pill to swallow truth

Vagary doesn’t work. It works best if you are specific about what you intend to achieve. I’m going to “get healthy” this week, which is both vague and lazy. If you’re wondering whether it’s going to stick this time, rework your approach and ask yourself what’s standing in the way? It’s about pushing yourself further than you think you can go — further than you’ve gone before.

Show up for the “small” tasks. If you don’t show up for the small ones, you likely won’t show up for the big ones. Atomic Habits by James Clear is the single best piece of literature on habit stacking. Highly recommend. Little habits lean into big ones. They are the warm-up. Don’t forget about accountability! Try a free productivity app like Todoist. Be sure to get a visual in front of your face so you can chart your progress because this part motivates you.

# 7 Ugly realization truth that turns pleasant later

At first, your friends and family may not show gleeful support or even believe that you are capable of the changes you aspire to make.

Good. It’s not about them.

Protect your process and set boundaries because outside projections are unhelpful at the precipice of change.

Cultivate quiet confidence.

#1 Mighty Pleasant truth

The secret inner sanctum where you stow your beliefs about who you are and what you think you can achieve is shifting. As you change the foundation of your core beliefs, a sense of deep purpose emerges. It feels otherworldly.

# 2 Pleasant truth

How you live affects everyone you know. You are a catalyst for change in people’s lives as you progress. The actions of those around us move us. Who will you inspire?

#3 Pleasant truth

Living intentionally empowers you, and you wonder why you waited so long to do it. The more purpose-driven you are, the more passionate you become about the path that led you there.

#1 Myth buster “Discipline is constricting”

Discipline isn’t constricting. It automates your life and frees you up to pursue new things. It furthers your reach and magnifies your attraction point by keeping you focused. It takes time to get used to a new way of structuring your life.

#2 Myth buster “I am waiting for inspiration before I…”

Inspiration is a moving target, and when you get moving — you find it. Momentum is its cousin who lives right around the corner.

#3 Myth buster “You need to do more”

No, no, and no. Add less to your daily to-do list. Too many things will demotivate you faster than the speed of light. Two big tasks and two side dishes (small tasks) are plenty to get you on your way to mastery. Behavioral psychologist Dr. Susan Weinschenk says, “Making the action easy to do increases the likelihood that it becomes a habit.” She’s right. Think bite-size pieces because they are easier to digest and sustain.

Wrapping up

To the beginner’s tongue, the elixir of self-discipline tastes bitter. Keep drinking. Only then does it turn sweet. Finally, the cravings take over. When you have the courage to live authentically, you discover untold truths and strengths within. Why not catapult yourself into life by your design? Your hidden treasure is waiting for excavation. You only need to reach for it. Dig deep.

If you enjoy this, you might want to check out Affirmations Don't Work, Upcycle Your Thoughts Instead.

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