If I were able to travel back in time to when I was 18 and catch my full attention, and I could just say one sentence to help my younger self for my future, I would say, “Self discipline is the most important asset to your success and the cure for instant gratification; study it well.”
I was never an expert gardener. I never liked it because it was too slow of a process for me, and I liked quick results. I would plant seeds in the ground, water them, and come by the next day to see their progress. There was none. I would water them once again only to have nothing the next day. “How frustrating.” Discouraged, I would forget to water the seeds regularly, and, as a result, no plant grew or the sprouts would dry. Within a few weeks, I would simply give up on gardening.
Without realizing it, I began to follow this behavior pattern for all my affairs. I wanted fast results, just like many other people struggling with instant gratification needs. My unconscious motto was “I want everything and I want it now.” Marketers know this weakness, and they use it to get customers fast. They use catch phrases like “Get It Now” or “Lose 7 Pounds in 7 Days.” They know that for most people, waiting is hard, and not getting their wishes quickly fulfilled causes psychological responses such as anxiety or tension.
While real physical requirements need to be addressed, the urge for instant gratification extends to every desire corrupting our societies from simple stress to severe addictions.
Instant gratification kept me overweight, and that kept me from reaching my dreams and living my potential. I couldn’t understand that being able to say “not right now” was an act of true power and self-mastery that could extend to every area of our lives.
It is incredible to see social media bursting with exercise programs and amazing equipment and diet plans. Diet books and exercise books fill the racks at book stores. Yet nearly two-thirds of Americans are overweight and one-third are obese. This is not due to the lack of effectiveness of the programs and books but to the lack of discipline.
Many aspiring entrepreneurs fail in the first few months of starting a business. The lack of discipline plays a big role in their failure. Self-discipline is the most powerful remedy for instant gratification, lack of persistence, and poor resilience to obstacles.
It also extends to every area of life. People who begin meditating cannot seem to realize that success in meditation comes with learning to stay, and only self-discipline can do that.
Brian Tracy, best selling author and visionary, shares in his book, The Power of Self-Discipline, the following anecdote, which I found fascinating. “I ask my audience, ‘Who wants to double their income? How many of you want to lose weight? Get out of debt?’ I see everyone is raising their hands and smiling. Wonderful, these are great goals that everyone wants. We all want to earn more money, be fit and trim, and achieve financial independence; we all want the same things, and we know what we have to do to achieve it, and we all intend to do it ‘sometime,’ but before we get started we decide we need to take a vacation to a wonderful fantasy place called ‘Someday I’ll.’” In this place the conversations of the people living in this place are only excuses.
What is Self Discipline?
The ability to direct one’s feelings and overcome one’s weakness; the ability to pursue what one thinks is right, despite temptations to abandon it.
Self-discipline can extend to mastering your feelings and even desires with the intention of improving yourself.
Elbert Hubbard, American writer and philosopher, defines it brilliantly: “Self-discipline is the ability to make yourself do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not.”
It’s that power you need to resist the lure of excuses and it’s the key to a great life.
It’s simple, yet quite powerful.
How to discipline for success?
The questions below will help you brainstorm and realize the power of your commitment to your goal and the increased chances of your success.
• Are you willing to make self-discipline a priority in your life?
• Are you willing to set a goal and be determined to see it complete?
• Are you willing to stop having excuses?
• Are you willing to control your behaviors and appetites for your goal?
• Are you willing to be resilient no matter what?
• Are you willing to be patient?
• Are you willing to pay the price for success?
If you answer "yes", choose one target, that one thing you have been wishing for a long time. Apply self-discipline to your project for the next two to three months and be amazed at your results.
The good news is that while self-discipline is amazingly hard at the beginning, the more you do it, the easier it becomes until it becomes a trait of your personality.
“Without self-discipline, success is impossible, period.”