It doesn’t matter whether you are pursuing success in business, sports, the arts,
or life in general: the bridge between wishing and accomplishing is discipline.
Self-discipline is the most essential ingredient for achieving any long-term goal. It’s what makes people stick to diets, exercise regularly, meditate daily, improve their part in relationships, develop skills, save money, and grow businesses.
A disciplined life is an organized life—a calm, centered, and focused life. It’s like a boat advancing fearlessly toward its destination, rather than a boat at the mercy of the wind.
Discipline allows you to concentrate on your goals, eliminate distractions, and stick to your chosen path despite obstacles and setbacks. It’s a much-valued virtue for athletes, entrepreneurs, artists, meditation masters, and those in the military—perhaps the only thing all those people have in common.
If you were to ask top performers in any field what are the most important traits that got them there, I’d bet with you that self-discipline would make it to the list for of all of them. Either as “discipline” pure and simple, or disguised as one of its variants: determination, perseverance, “showing up”, “not giving up”, resilience, grit, dedication, commitment, willpower.
Self-discipline may be the “royal road” to things like academic achievement. An American study by Angela Duckworth and Martin Seligman found that a school pupil’s self-discipline is a stronger predictor of future academic success than the IQ.
Most people want self-discipline mainly to achieve a particular goal. That makes sense, because in most cases what stands between you and your goal is not lack of knowledge, but lack of commitment and action. You know what to do, but you can’t get yourself to do it.
Do you want to build wealth? Do you want to advance at work? Do you want to write a book? Mastering a craft, art, language or sport? What about growing your business? What about improving your relationships?
For these and many other goals, discipline is the key factor, not motivation. Motivation is fleeting, while self-discipline is reliable.
The process of achieving any goal always involves a type of transformation, or journey. You are going from point A (where you are now) to point B (where you want to be). And transformation requires consistent action across a span of time, which is only possible with self-discipline. When we put it like that, all this may sound like common sense—but it’s far from being common practice.
That is why, without self-discipline, the loftiest goal is just wishful thinking. With self-discipline, even a mediocre goal will take you somewhere.
When you focus your self-discipline on a single purpose, like sunlight focused through a magnifying glass on a single object, look out! Everybody will get out of your way, open doors for you, and salute as you walk by. Do you want some of that?
Self-discipline turns you into a force of nature. You become unstoppable.
Now let’s get specific. Consider all main areas of your life, and think of one to five ways self-discipline can help you in each. Let these thoughts motivate you to learn and cultivate Mindful Self-Discipline.