If you look at anybody who has been successful in achieving any goal that they set out to achieve, what you will discover is that they have certain common characteristics. One of these traits is consistency in doing whatever is needed to work towards that goal. However, consistency is not the bottom line because, in order to be consistent, you need discipline.
Discipline is the common thread which separates those who succeed and those who do not. If you think about anybody who has achieved great things such as an athlete winning an Olympic gold medal, an actress winning an Academy Award or a scientist winning a Nobel prize, it did not come without a cost.
We only see the end result but do not see the hours, days, weeks, months and years of toil and struggle that went into the work it takes to achieve such a goal. This takes discipline. The definition of discipline is the ability to persist in an action despite distractions, obstacles and competing interests. In order achieve any goal that you set out to accomplish, you need discipline.
The practice of discipline empowers you because it will separate you from the majority of people who usually lack the discipline to do the work needed to get closer to their goals and desires. Discipline is important for every area of your life, including your health, your relationships and your finances. For example, you need discipline to do the work to prepare nutritious meals and do the physical exercise needed to stay healthy and fit. You need discipline to not frivolously spend what you earn and use it to pay down your debt, add to your savings and even grow your wealth through investing.
So the question is how does one cultivate discipline? The answer is simple but it is not easy to do for most. What you need to do is to look at all the important areas of your life and pick the area that is most important to you or which will be most likely to move the needle towards improving the quality of your life. It could be your health, your relationships, your career, your finances or your spirituality.
Once you identify this area, you have to commit to one action that you will take every day to work to improve that area of your life. For example, you may want to lose weight and, in order to do this, you may have to start cutting out processed foods. You may also have to commit to doing some sort of physical activity daily. It does not have to be laborious or time consuming and it may start out with a 15 minute walk a day.
You may want to pay down your debt, which may mean changing your spending habits. You will have to take a stock of all of your expenditures and cut out the ones that are frivolous or unnecessary. For example, you may be drinking 5 cups of coffee a day and may have to cut back to 2. You may be spending money on eating out and may need to stop doing this and commit to buying groceries and preparing your meals at home to save money. You can then use the money that you save, from cutting out unnecessary expenses, and use it to pay down your debt.
This may seem overwhelming if you are not used to cultivating discipline in any area of your life so I would encourage you to start small. Do the smallest action possible, that you can do, in the area of your life that you want to change. Even if you make 1% change every day for one year in one area of your life, you will have made a 365% change and will start to reap the benefits of your discipline.
I encourage you now to do the exercise of identifying the area of your life, which would have the greatest impact in the quality of your life. Journal and brainstorm on all the things you could do in this area of your life. Pick the one thing you can start doing today and commit to it. Put it on your schedule and do not let anything dissuade or distract you from doing it by making it your highest priority.
The truth is that if you are not working to improve one or more areas of your life then, not only will the quality of your life remain static, but you will not know what your true potential is. Discipline is the key to your highest potential and you owe it to yourself to cultivate it today.
Dr. Nauman Naeem