It’s late in the day and you have to get to your pilates class, and yet again you are running late. So you ask yourself – “do I stay and finish this task or go to pilates?”- you know what the answer is going to be. You end up working for two more hours, picking up a fast food takeaway, and doing no exercise. Then you beat yourself up for not being more disciplined.
Self discipline can be difficult. It requires you to be clear about priorities and not prepared to let yourself off the hook. In the example above, it might be acceptable to miss pilates if you have decided that work comes first and the sacrifices are likely to be in the area of sport, healthy eating, and time with friends. The trouble is that these days with TV programmes like the X Factor, we develop the perception that you can be an international singing sensation in two months, and that success does not require much hard work, dedication and focus.
The film Rush highlighted the rivalry between two racing drivers, James Hunt and Nicki Lauda in a bid to become the Formula 1 world champion. Lauda was disciplined, and had a meticulous regime that he followed to ensure he was in the best possible shape to be successful. By contrast, James Hunt led a high old life and self discipline appeared to be the furthest thing from his mind.
So is self-discipline worth the effort? It might be argued that you could take the James Hunt hedonistic approach and be successful just as he was. Yes that’s true, but his success was shortlived. If you want long lasting success in your business here are some tips to help you become more disciplined.
- Be clear about what’s important – You can only make good decisions if you know what your priorities are. Take time to work out what your own goals are, and how you want to prioritise. Then it’s easy to decide in future what to do.
- Imagine yourself at the end point and work backwards – Imagine yourself at a time in the future when you have achieved what you want to. What is it like? Who is there? What are they saying? Then work back from that point towards today, and notice what were the major obstacles you overcame, and who were the key people that helped you. By imagining that you have already achieved your goals, it can inform you as to where to focus and where some of those difficult decisions might be.
- Short term pain vs. long term gain – Some people live in the moment and want to enjoy themselves now. For example, the credit card culture has replaced saving up for luxuries, and some say the millennial generation is all about instant gratification. So learn the practice of taking a moment to think before taking action. In the short term, the pain might be worth it. For example, when Sarah Steel was in the midst of a growth spurt in her business, The Old Station Nursery, she acquired 3 new sites within 12 months and had to integrate all the staff whilst maintaining great service and standards. Sarah acknowledged that the short term pain was worth it, to effectively double the size of her business in such as short period of time.