The Single Most Important Factor to Build Self Discipline

how to become disciplined in life

Between 1986 and ’96, Southwest Airlines grew at an astounding pace. So much that 100 small cities requested them to begin operating in their city. At a time when other airlines were making heavy losses, Southwest Airlines was flooded with opportunity.

What did they do?

They turned down over 95 percent offers and started operating from just four more cities.

Why would they walk away from growth?

Because the airline wanted to grow at a pace that it could sustain.

Go Big or Go Home” is Crappy Advice

We’ve internalized the adage “Go Big or Go Home.” We believe that only mammoth effort yields significant results. For that, we look for EXTREME self-discipline.

We visualize a disciplined life as one in which there’s no fun.

No more hanging out with friends. No more social media. Live like a monk. Or lock yourself in a closed space and work on that tough project for 6 months.

The only problem is that after 6 months, either the project is finished, or you are. (Often it’s the latter.)

Who would want such a life, one where you’re not free to do what you want?

You should.

Discipline is not the end of freedom. It’s the road to freedom.

Discipline means putting yourself in control rather than letting “fate” control your actions.

It means making Present You do what it must so that Future You reaps the rewards.

It means working on an important task when your friends are hanging out at the bar. It means hitting the gym instead of slouching on the sofa and watching reruns of Suits. It means sticking to your diet instead of breaking it “just this once” at every available chance.

Discipline might sound like a lot of work, but it’s not. It doesn’t demand you to perform at a “peak state” all the time. On the other hand, performing at your peak once in a while doesn’t mean anything either.

Discipline simple demands consistency, which comes from growing at a pace you can sustain.

3 Stupid Simple Steps to Build Consistency

Here they are.

1. Practice every day

Do you watch Netflix every day? Do you browse Instagram every day?

So can you do something that benefits you in the long run, every day?

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing every day. — Grant Cardone

2Process over Product

When the outcome appears daunting, people give up before they begin.

They make excuses to justify it. But secretly they’re filled with regret. And they use entertainment — pseudo-freedom — to drown out that regret.

Why do they try to drown it out? Because the only thing that sucks more than failure is regret.

Forget about the outcome. Focus on putting one foot ahead of the other.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. — Lao Tzu

I aim to write 1,000 words every day. On some days I fall short of the target. But instead of giving up or talking down to myself, I simply make sure I don’t slip up two days in a row.

Stick to the process. Do it for the love of it, not for the outcome. The results will take care of themselves.

3. Enjoy Small Wins

Instead of cutting off what you enjoy, make it a reward.

Enjoy an episode of your favorite show or fifteen minutes of Instagram after you’ve done what’s important. When you achieve a milestone, celebrate it with your friends.

Use what you enjoy as a reward for staying disciplined. It makes you feel less guilty, turns discipline into a habit, and makes you a happier person.

When you stay consistent, you set a derivative of Newton’s first law into action — an object in motion stays in motion. Your motions gain momentum and turn you into an unstoppable force.

One day, there will be success, there will be you, and nothing in between.

This post originally appeared on Medium.

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