All rights reserved.
No part of this eBook may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Requests for permission should be addressed to:
JULIO LARA PTY
8288 NW 66th,
Miami, FL 33195-2857
For more information about the author or the material presented in this eBook and similar content, visit the author’s website .
If you want to access bonus material about personal development, self-improvement, goals and goals settings, mindful entrepreneurship, motivation, productivity and much more, now to theGoodVader monthly newsletter and stay on tune for our new published articles and promotions about our upcoming eBooks!
You can subscribe !
CHAPTER I : Defining Self-Discipline 7
What Is Self-Discipline? 7
Building Self-Discipline 9
Forget About Everybody Else 11
Meet Jane 12
Hold Your Horses 13
CHAPTER II : Acknowledgment 15
Knowledge is Bliss 15
Meet Robert 17
CHAPTER III : Willpower 19
Harnessing Willpower 19
What Is Willpower? 19
Willpower is a Bazooka 21
Robert Gets It Right 22
CHAPTER IV : Dig for the Gold 25
Challenge is a Gold Mine 26
The Road Less Travelled By 26
You Have to Dig for the Gold 28
Dig Like You Mean It 29
Of Flow and Lemons 30
Take the Wheel 31
Purpose and Passion 32
Desire with Purpose 33
Jane Has Left the Building 34
CHAPTER V : Automatizing 37
Size Doesn’t Matter 37
Just Do It! 39
Develop Your Personal Productivity 40
Jane Against the World 43
CHAPTER VI : Perseverance 44
Defining Perseverance 45
Make It Better 45
Count Your Results 46
On Giving Up 47
Robert Is More Ready Than Never 49
[* CHAPTER VII : Flawed Beliefs and Mental Blocks 51*]
Flawed Beliefs 51
My Game, Your Rules? 52
Beliefs Reset 53
The Effects of Accurate Beliefs 53
Mental Blocks 54
Negative Effects 54
You Are Not Alone 58
FINAL THOUGHTS 60
Final Thoughts 61
Self-discipline and procrastination are two of the most discussed subjects in the personal development world. Yet, most authors and publications focus completely on discussing the subject from a “practical” point of view, encouraging us to force ourselves to be more productive and beat procrastination.
This method usually fails in the long run, and then we go back to search for another way to fight against idleness or making sure to cross the finish line of our goals.
But discipline is not just a matter of method or fooling ourselves into a diet. In order to achieve our goals, we must first understand the reasons behind our reluctance to act in a certain manner. When our behavior does not match our goals or intentions, the reason often lies within our minds as flawed beliefs or mental blocks.
The goal of this book is to serve as a walkthrough across the fundamental principles of discipline:
Acknowledgment: To accept what we can and can’t do is the first step. By acknowledging our shortcomings, we can come up with the best possible plan in order to counter our weak spots.
Harnessing Willpower: Understanding the true nature of willpower and its limits is of utmost importance if we want to harness it. By doing so, we can use willpower efficiently, and make it work with us and not against us.
Thrive for Challenges: Nothing worthwhile comes without some kind of challenge. Changing the way we see challenging moments or situations is not only positive to improve our self-discipline, but it also has amazing effects in every other area of our life.
Automatize: Getting rid of the small tasks that suck our energy and time every day, and automatizing those tasks that we cannot avoid is vital when we are pursuing our dreams and goals.
Perseverance: Nobody gets to become an expert, or even a decent performer, on his or her first try. Failure is a natural part of life and should never stop you from trying.
By explaining the five principles, The Discipline Manifesto will not only point out the basics steps we must take to overcome inaction or unhealthy behaviors and habits, but will also become a guide for introspection and challenging the negative beliefs you might unconsciously hold.
Throughout the book, we will discuss in dept the five principles of self-discipline, its application and the possible obstacles we might encounter along the way. We will also be following the progress of our new imaginary friends, Jane and Robert, to exemplify the practical applications of each principle.
Jane is a young woman who has been thinking about starting her own business while working a full-time job. She is a talented, self-taught cook and is also passionate about writing, so she sets the intention to start her own food blog with the idea of monetizing the site in the long run. The problem is she has absolutely no idea about web design, setting up a website and all the knowledge and skills this requires. On top of that, even when Jane is having several ideas throughout the day, she hasn’t even written a single blog post yet.
Robert is a 30-something guy who has struggled with weight his whole life. Now he is single again and has set the goal to get his weight finally under control. Unfortunately, Robert is finding an incredible amount of resistance toward the changes he knows need to be done to have a chance of achieving his goal.
By the end of every chapter, we will witnesses how Jane or Robert implements the principles and advices discussed and we will learn the practical side of such principles in order to apply them successfully in our own life.
“Success isn’t measured by money or power or social rank. Success is measured by your discipline and inner peace”
– Mike Ditka
Little can be achieved in the task of mastering our will and building self-discipline if we do not have a clear definition of what self-discipline really is. How can we master anything if we cannot even define it clearly or if we do not understand what we are studying? Self-discipline is the ability to get yourself to take action regardless of your emotional state and despite the emotional response that the idea of such action provokes in you.
Imagine what you could accomplish if your Will would be at the mercy of your intellectual command. If you could simply get yourself to follow through on your best intentions as a machine, without taking into account the emotional responses that come with our actions. Picture yourself saying to your body, “Boy, you’re overweight. Let’s lose 30 pounds in the next 4 weeks…” and doing what it needs to be done without even thinking about it.
But we are not machines, and the emotional connotations of our actions are undeniable. We cannot simply command our actions and expect that our mind and body follow our commands. This is the reason why it is so important to develop self-discipline in a comprehensive manner, focusing not only in the strength of our will as physical fuel, but also by understanding the mental blocks that lie behind our reluctance to act.
Most authors that have written about self-discipline tell you that you should take action despite the negative emotions associated with a particular goal. That you should force yourself to go to the gym even when you don’t really enjoy it.
Even while this approach might yield results for a limited period of time, in most cases, the results do not last and we end up back at square one; or even worse, completely demotivated about our goals or our ability to make our dreams come true.
The truth is that without self-discipline, our intention will not become a reality. But with sufficient self-discipline, it’s a done deal. So we must aim for the development of self-discipline as a steady habit, so much that when we reach the point when we make a conscious decision, it’s virtually guaranteed we’ll follow through on it. But the path to self-discipline as a habit is not by forcing ourselves to do what displeases us, but by understanding the reasons behind our emotions and modifying our beliefs in order to feel differently about the actions that need to be taken to achieve our goals.
Self-discipline is a tool available to us all, but as with any tool, we need to learn to use it correctly, or it could do more harm than good. Self-discipline can empower us to overcome any addiction or to change any habit. It can wipe out procrastination, disorder, and ignorance. Within the domain of problems it can solve, self-discipline is simply unmatched. Moreover, it becomes a powerful teammate when combined with other tools like passion, goal setting, and planning.
There is no better way to explain my philosophy behind developing self-discipline as a skill than with an analogy: self-discipline is like weightlifting. The more you train, the stronger you become. The less you train, the weaker you become.
We all have some level of self-discipline. Otherwise, we would be unable to perform the most basic task in our daily lives, just as we all have some level of strength in our muscles. Even a weak person is able to lift a light object, as an undisciplined child is able to get through a short car ride. The levels of self-discipline that we encounter among us can vary greatly. Some people have naturally developed a higher level of self-discipline than others have, but that does not mean that the most undisciplined of us cannot improve up to the level of the masters.
Just as it takes muscle to build muscle, it takes self-discipline to build self-discipline.
As with weightlifting, the only way to build self-discipline is by developing a progressive training schedule or method. Progressive training simply means that you will evaluate your current level to set a starting point. From there, you will lift weights that are slightly above the limit of your abilities, taking your muscles until a failing point and then resting.
The basic method to build self-discipline is to tackle challenges that you can successfully accomplish but which are near your limit. This doesn’t mean trying something and failing at it every day, nor does it mean staying within your comfort zone. You will gain no strength trying to lift a weight that you cannot budge, nor will you gain strength by lifting weights that are too light for you. You must start with weights (i.e., challenges) that are within your current ability to lift but which are near your limit. The challenges you tackle push take you to the limit, might drain you and leave you feeling exhausted, but they must remain within the “doable” category. If you tackle challenges way beyond your abilities, you will fail over and over again and will feel so discouraged or disappointed that the whole process of improvement will suffer a setback.
If you push yourself too hard when building self-discipline or if you try to transform your entire life overnight by setting dozens of new goals and expecting to follow through consistently, you’re almost certain to fail. It’s as if you were to try lifting the 300lb bar on your first day in the gym. You are going to look silly and could hurt yourself.
On the other hand, once you succeed steadily, you must increase the challenge. If you keep working out with the same weights, you won’t get any stronger. Similarly, if you fail to challenge yourself in life, you won’t be able to tap into a greater level of self-discipline.
Some people with very weak muscles have found a way to train themselves into worldwide weightlifting champions. Current circumstances are a limit only to the extent that you allow them to be. In the same way, very undisciplined people have the ability to become a disciplined worldwide champion if they understand the importance of self-discipline and set the intention to improve consistently.
The first step is to understand where you are. If this is your first time consciously developing self-discipline, chances are you are a gym rookie and that is ok. When I began working out, on my first attempt at doing a barbell shoulder press I could only lift a 7 pounds bar with no weight on it. My shoulders were very weak because I’d never trained them. But within a few months, I was up to 60 pounds.
Similarly, if you’re undisciplined right now, you can still use what little discipline you have to build more. The more disciplined you become, the easier life gets. Challenges that were once impossible for you will eventually seem like child’s play. As you get stronger, the same weights will seem lighter and lighter.
A common mistake people make when trying to achieve a new goal, whether it is developing self-discipline or weightlifting, is comparing themselves with those around them. This does not help at all and is actually counterproductive.
Being inspired by the people you admire is a very healthy idea, but do not allow the success of others to become a personal benchmark to hit. Set your own goals and milestones, independently of others’ successes.
Look at where you are now, and aim to get better as you go forward.
Jane is a great girl. She works a full-time job at a consulting firm and is doing well. She is not particularly displeased with her job, but she feels there must be something else. This cannot be all that it is, right?
She loves cooking and has learned a lot about it by reading books and researching on the web. When talking with friends she realized that she has acquired a level of knowledge about cooking and nutrition beyond what is common for regular foodies.
So, after a chat with a friend that has a personal blog as a diary, an idea crosses Jane’s mind: What if she shares the knowledge about food and nutrition she has acquired throughout the years, with family and friends by publishing recipes and articles in a blog? Maybe, if it gets popular, she could even monetize the content of the blog at some point in the future, or write a book with some of her original recipes.
Jane works a full-time job and she thinks she has no time during the week to create content for the future blog to be. So she does some research online and confirms that setting up a blog does not seem to be very complicated. With that out of the way, she concludes that the most challenging part of the project will be the creation of content.
But Jane is excited and resolved. She might not have much free time during the week, but she sets the goal of creating at least 10 blog entries every weekend (5 on Saturday and 5 on Sunday). This way, when she finally launches the blog, she will have tons of material to publish.
The first weekend comes by and Jane wakes up an hour early that the usual. She is excited. So after a quick breakfast, she sits in front of her laptop and starts typing all of the ideas she has collected throughout the week. The five entries for Saturday are a reality before lunch. “This is easier than I thought!” She says to herself. On Sunday, she writes the other five entries of the day. This time it was a little harder because she was running out of ideas, but the weekend was a success and even Emily Dickinson would be proud.
The next weekend, Jane woke up at the regular time and remembered the laptop was waiting for her. So after breakfast she sits in front of the screen and writes a couple more articles. This time she wasn’t enjoying it as much as the last weekend, but she was resolved to not stand up until the five articles of the day were ready. Finally, at 3 o’clock Jane made it! Five great pieces of content! She was exhausted though.
On Sunday morning, Jane didn’t even wanted to get out of bed because she knew getting out of bed would mean that she would have to write five new articles and she could not recall a single idea to write about.
Jane tried to go from 0 to 100 in no time. Even when she had a great amount of knowledge about food and eating habits, she had no experience writing about it and when she tried to implement a new activity into her routine, she found resistance. This is common, but it can be overcome by progressive training.
Jane tried to lift the 300-pound bar on her first day at the gym and was burned out in no time.
If she had taken a different approach to her writing habits, or would have be open to change such habits after acknowledging that her strategy was flawed, the results in the long run would have been a lot more promising.
By raising the bar just a little each week, you stay within your capabilities and grow stronger over time. But when doing weight training, the actual work you do doesn’t mean anything. There’s no intrinsic benefit in lifting a weight up and down — the benefit comes from the muscle growth. However, when building self-discipline, you also get the benefit of the work you’ve done along the way, so that’s even better.
”The acknowledgment of our weakness is the first step in repairing our loss.”
– Thomas a Kempis
The first of the five principles of self-discipline is acknowledgment. This simply means that we perceive reality accurately and consciously accept what we perceive.
Even when this sounds simple and obvious, in practice it is much more difficult than it seems. If we find ourselves experiencing considerable difficulties in a particular area of our life, is very likely that the reasons related to such difficulties are a lack of accurate perceptions (i.e., wrong or flawed beliefs) or the inability to accept some aspects of our current situation or circumstances.
What does this have to do with self-discipline? One of the most common mistakes people make when trying to build self-discipline is not accepting their current situation or perceiving such situation inaccurately. Back to our weightlifting analogy, acknowledgment is when we take a hard look at ourselves and measure our strength. We must accept the results to set a competent path to improvement.
Not being able to assess and accept where we stand in relation to our goals would be like going to the gym for the first time and starting a random routine, just for the sake of weightlifting. The routine will be either too much to handle, which will bring the consequence that we fail and get discouraged quickly, or won’t be challenging enough to build muscle, which will mean that we will never see actual results.
If we want to improve our self-discipline and develop it as a skill, we must understand and accept where we are right now and we must be absolutely clear where the starting point is; otherwise, we won’t be able to adopt a competent routine and progressive training will be impossible. So start by acknowledging which challenges you are able to perform on a daily or weekly basis.
I am talking about those activities that represent a moderate level of difficulty, but you can go through successfully.
You can start by assessing your level of self-discipline in everyday tasks like sleeping, eating habits, work and career, studying and learning, relationships or communication with those around you. Score your level of self-discipline from 1 to 10 in every of these areas or similar ones in order to acknowledge effectively where you are standing right now. Remember that self-discipline is the ability to act in a certain manner despite the presence of negative emotion or discomfort. Be as honest as you have to be, nobody but you will have access to these results and nobody is judging you. The point of this exercise is to identify the areas of your life where you have the biggest troubles with discipline. Only when we identify these areas, we will be able to get rid of the mental blocks in our way and therefore, the negative emotions provoked by the idea of taking action. Only then we will develop a progressive training plan.
Without proper assessment, we would remain ignorant or in denial. If we choose to remain ignorant (i.e., not knowing how disciplined we are) we won’t know exactly how much we can do and our possibilities will remain obscure even to us. Successes and failures will be the product of external factors or the actions of third parties.
If we choose to fool ourselves, we will conclude that we are as disciplined as we have to be and that there is no need for improvement, or that we are just too lazy to be saved, that this is the way we are and we would have to born again to change it. There is no point in trying to develop self-discipline. If we ever improve our self-discipline as a skill, it will be by accident, as a consequence of experiences, but this will hardly have an effect on our overall reality. Since we are not willing to accept the need for a change, or to acknowledge the possibility of improvement, we cannot commit to a progressive training path and will remain stuck in our present habits.
Robert has been struggling with his weight since his 20s, but now that he is in his mid-30s and is single again, he has decided that is time to get those extra pounds under control. He used to go to the gym regularly when he was younger, so he knows what he has to do. Lack of knowledge is not the problem.
One day, Robert walks to the nearest gym facility and signs himself up for a full membership. He has taken control of his destiny. Now he just has to show up.
He is fiercely decided, and he manages to go to the gym four times a week, every week for the first month. However, much to his surprise, Robert sees with astonishment how he has gained 7 pounds in the last 30 days! That is not fair! He has been going to the gym consistently for the whole month, he hasn’t missed one class! How could he have gained weight? Understandably, Robert goes home discouraged and misses the next 3 scheduled days.
Robert was decided to improve his health and appearance by losing a few pounds, but he didn’t take the time to acknowledge which were the habits where his self-discipline gets weak and that as a consequence provoked the overweight in first place. If he had taken the time to assess his level of discipline about his most common everyday tasks, he would have easily identified that his eating habits were his Achilles heel. It was not a genetic condition, nor a lack of physical activity or knowledge, but the lack of proper self-assessment and acknowledgment about what was getting in his way.
”In the absence of willpower the most complete collection of virtues and talents is wholly worthless.”
– Aleister Crowley
Willpower is the backup of self-discipline. We may set the course of action to achieve a particular goal which requires that we take some not-so-exciting steps, and we may even take some those steps towards that goal; but if we only focus on the practical side of the process (the “making”) without paying attention to the emotional and/or mental blocks along the way (the very reason why these needed steps cause a negative reaction), then sooner or later, we will want to quit.
This is when willpower is critical to self-discipline. Willpower allows us to boost our performance at a given activity right when our mental or emotional stamina is at its lowest point.
The second principle of self-discipline is learning to harness willpower, in order to use it to our advantage, and not fearing constantly that it will run out when we need it the most.
In today’s world, willpower has become a word with many negative connotations. It reminds us of all those times when “we just couldn’t take it anymore.” And marketing has made a very good profit out of it. Every day we see adds about products or services promising amazing results without the need of willpower at all. They usually try to trick us into believing that willpower is some kind of divine attribute, reserved only to a few, and if we are not part of the lucky ones (and we never are) we are pretty much screwed. Fortunately for us, their product is the best substitute of willpower we could ever imagine! Save your thank yous and go get your wallet. A few pills a day and Barbie will be jealous!
The thing is: 1. Quick fixes do not work for a sustainable period of time (if at all), and 2. Willpower is not a gift from Greek gods, but the result of smart planning and well thought out steps, executed at the right time and in the right way.
If self-discipline is the fuel of our car, willpower is the extra tire in the trunk.
Just like driving a car, if we drive recklessly and without a clear destination on our mind, there is a chance we will get a flat tire at some point. And even if we are as cautious as a driver can be, the possibility of a flat tire is always there. This is not the car’s (the goal) or the fuel’s (Self-discipline) fault. But when we have an extra tire in the trunk (Willpower), we will be able to continue our path without any serious setback. In the same way, if we engage in habits or activities without paying close attention to progressive training or without the proper assessment of our reality, we are going to run out of energy soon, and without willpower sooner or later we are going to quit.
Willpower provides an intense boost when we need it the most. However, independently of how self-disciplined we are, willpower is always temporary; therefore, we must be ready to use it in the best possible manner in order to be propelled closer to our goals.
A well-aimed willpower blow comes in the form of a strategically planned attack on the circumstances around us that represent a bigger threat to our self-discipline, and therefore to our goals.
Willpower is at its peak when we just start our efforts towards achieving our goals. So this is a good moment to use all that extra energy and set the conditions for a successful ride. Just like the car analogy, the best time to check the extra tire is before hitting the road. If the prospect of achieving a particular goal is not capable of refilling our willpower reserves, then that goal does not excite us enough.
The next time you think about tackling a new habit, particularly if is something you have tried and failed before, take a second to ponder the things you could do now, before the hard work begins, that will make your life easier when your willpower fades.
Willpower is temporary, so you have to make sure that you are tackling your biggest obstacles when your willpower reserves are at their fullest. But this is only possible if you set a smart course of action before the work begins; otherwise, you will find yourself requiring high levels of willpower every day and will soon burn out.
So, if willpower is such a sneaky fellow, how can we tame it? We can’t, and shouldn’t. Instead, we must aim to ride willpower like a surfer riding a wave, and to use the surges of energy to our advantage.
We all have experienced that rush of energy and excitement when facing a new project or idea. We start to think about all the things we are going to do, all the benefits that will be ripped from our efforts and how wonderful life is gonna be after we finally “make it.” Just like Robert signing to a gym, we are willing to do whatever it takes to reach our goals and dreams (Insert Rocky Balboa soundtrack). Until a day or two later, and we don’t feel so powerful anymore. We still believe in all the benefits that could come out of our efforts, but now we start to think about all the reason why we won’t be able to achieve our goal. Willpower has faded away and that infomercial we saw the other day is looking like a good idea.
Willpower is not meant to be used as an everyday tool; that is what self-discipline is for. Use willpower, instead, as a boost to permanently change the scenario of your daily routines and remove all possible future obstacles out of the way.
Let’s get back to our friend Robert, who after a few weeks going to the gym came to realize that he was actually gaining weight. Turns out that his weak spot was not the lack of will regarding daily physical activity, but his eating habits.
Robert usually eats healthy, but once in a while his will gets weak and he is caught in an all-you-can-eat spread for a few days. Needlessly to say, this sabotages all the results he might have gotten with the effort he puts in other areas of his life.
Robert might focus on improving his eating habits for a while, but without a conscious decision to remove all the obstacles from his path while he is still packed with willpower, failure is guaranteed. Eventually, Robert’s willpower will fall down to critical levels, and that’s when he succumbs to cravings.
But Robert is just not ready to give up. He now understands the principle of acknowledgment and knows how to harness willpower. Robert is ready to include progressive training into his routine. So he accepts that his eating habits are the only obstacle between him and a healthier lifestyle and a leaner body. But he also know that trying to cut out or drastically change all his eating habits will be counterproductive and would create an unbearable amount of resistance, so he sets out a plan to change one habit every two weeks.
The first thing Robert does is identifying several targets that clearly need to be addressed before he has a real chance of success.
He starts by getting rid of all the junk food and sweets that he usually eats at nights before going to bed. Robert knows that even if he gets hungry before bed, it would be unlikely that he would go out at that time to get something to eat, so if there is no fast food or candy at home, he will be free of temptations even when willpower runs out.
He also deletes out of his phone’s contacts all the fast food delivery numbers he could call in a moment of despair. This doesn’t mean he will not eat a hamburger once in a while, but when he really wants to enjoy this kind of meal, he will have to go and look for the number; it won’t be on speed dial. It’s not a terribly hard thing to do, but the simple need of a small action like having to look for the number of a delivery service can make a great difference.
Getting rid of all the food in the house and your fast food resources is not enough, at least not unless you are trying to starve to death. So Robert takes the next step in his progressive training program, now knowing and taking into account the limited nature of his willpower. He set aside a period of time out of his weekend to go shopping for groceries. Robert got himself some nice healthy recipes online, and then used a chunk of willpower to cook the meals for the whole week. This way he will always have (healthy) food in the fridge and when he is feeling hungry, all he needs to do is unfreeze some of it.
By Monday, Robert does not need willpower anymore. He wakes up to find a cupboard full of healthy choices, he can eat whatever he wants. No need to fight against his cravings because he has no choice anyway. The fridge is stocked with healthy food, so he only has to choose what to take for lunch, without worrying about how healthy it is or how many miles he is going to have to run to burn that lunch.
Robert will still need some self-discipline to follow his diet. After all, he could always drive to a fast food restaurant, but his self-discipline will be focused solely in follow the diet without fighting or worrying about his willpower (or the lack of it).
Robert set out a downhill path to follow by default prior to the start of his race. He thought about the best way to get rid in advance of all possible sources of resistances he could find along the way, and his chances of success increased dramatically.
”[*Just as we develop our physical muscles through overcoming opposition, such as lifting weights, we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity.” *]
– Stephen Covey
Changing the way we see challenges is the third principle of self-discipline.
When we say we need more self-discipline to take action (going to the gym), or to restrain ourselves from acting in a certain manner (eat less junk food) we usually refer to activities that implied a certain degree of challenge.
The problem in these situations is that in many cases we have lost the battle before it even begins. If our mindset about challenges is negative, as is held by most people, we will find a high amount of conscience and unconscious resistances, and in many cases we can become our own worst enemy without even know it.
For this reason, it is vital that we change the way we see and think about the challenges we will find throughout our life.
Most people today focus an incredible amount of time in looking for the easiest way out, and most of them are willing to compromise a whole lot of things (Time, quality, health, and relationships) in order to attain results without any effort.
You can get away with that as long as you are smart about it. You should certainly look for the most effective and productive way to do things, but beware: Easy doesn’t always mean effective, and being effective in many cases implies a challenge. We will talk more about effectiveness in the next chapter.
The problem with the low hanging fruit approach to anything, is that people often focus on the “easy” part of the equation, when in order to establish a fulfilling, productive lifestyle, you must focus on finding an efficient solution, taking into account, as part of “efficient,” the amount of effort a given solution implies. But take note how the main ingredient in the last equation is “efficiency” and “easiness” is only a complement. When you strive for efficiency, you don’t compromise quality.
The great thing about recognizing and understanding the difference between “easy” and “effective,” is that by doing so you already have an advantage over all the people out there that strive every day for an easy path. Now you strive for an effective and efficient way of handling things, and under these parameters, you will judge every challenge and opportunity presented to you.
Lose fear of challenges. Stop thinking about them as a bad thing, because there are the only thing that can make you grow as a human being.
Challenges have an incredibly bad connotation today, but this is only a consequence of holding inaccurate or flawed beliefs about the nature of reality and experiences. We are used to tackling challenges with brute force, and this yields only traumatic experiences; hence the generalized negative connotation of challenges.
If we try to drive a car without knowing how to do so, and we crash it against a wall, it is not the wall’s fault or the car’s fault. It’s our own fault and the reason is a lack of proper knowledge or incorrect and inaccurate information. In the same way, when we experience a negative feeling because we fail in some way, it is not the goal’s fault or that our dreams are wrong. So stop avoiding challenges just because “it might make you feel bad.”
Let’s take the example of a gold mind. Setting up and effectively running a gold mine implies an incredible amount of industrial and engineering challenges, but also has the opportunity to represent an uncommon amount of riches. Some challenges in your life might require a considerable amount of effort and attention at first, but they could become your personal gold mine.
The immediate effect of changing the way you look at challenges is access to a completely new myriad of opportunities and experiences, passed by other that sits to wait for the low hanging fruit. What a surprise they will get when they realize that there are millions like them waiting for the same fruit, which is not as good as they think anyway.
When I was writing my graduate thesis, I spent a year looking for books and information in connection to a fairly unknown subject, and then another six months reading everything I was able to find. It was a very complex and understudied subject, and I found it extremely challenging to reach the conclusions needed for the thesis to be accepted.
I spent all this time intentionally researching a subject I knew was understudied because, at that time, I believed this was where I could get the competitive edge I needed. I know other subjects were widely discussed by many remarkable professionals in the field, but by making the effort to research a less known subject, I was able to come out with a very original piece of work.
There’s no way I could have gotten the same results if I had taken the easy way out. I dug for gold two miles deep, so it was much harder for anyone else to criticize my conclusions or disagree with me. In order to do that, they’d have to outdig me, and very few people are willing to do that because hardcore research can be excruciatingly difficult and tedious.
The strength of challenges is connected to the strength of results, and strong challenges will always yield strong results. Even if you manage to become successful without facing challenges, many copycats will follow your steps in no time, and your place at the top will be a crowded spot before you have the chance to enjoy the glory.
When you understand that challenges are not something negative, but an opportunity to set yourself apart from the crowd, your mindset towards them will change and so will your readiness to face bigger challenges. This is a universal principle. It doesn’t really matter if you are a writer, an engineer, or a salesman: Using challenges as a trampoline to self-improvement and personal development will provide amazing benefits, in connection with not only self-discipline but also regarding many other skills and character traits. This is law; it cannot be any other way.
I’m taking the same approach to writing this book. It’s a lot of hard work. But I want this to be the kind of book that people will still be reading 10 years from now. Writing a book like this is at least 10x harder than the kinds of books I see dominating the psychology or self-help sections of bookstores today. But most of those books will be off the shelves in a year, and few people will even remember them.
The deeper and longer you dig, the bigger the treasure you will find. Facing challenges pays off, and whoever tries to convince you otherwise by leading you down the “easy” route, is trying to sell you something. The sales pitch is coming.
Health, relationships, wealth, career, even personal development comes with challenges. Trying to improve without facing challenges is like trying to become a black belt without fighting a single match.
Life reaches a new level of fulfillment when you lose your fear of challenges and accept that there is no other way to achieve self-improvement and personal development. When you accept this, you set yourself apart from the majority of people on earth and you will learn to soar like an eagle. What used to be terrifying for you will now excite you. Challenges won’t be an obstacle anymore, but a stepping stone on your way to your goals and dream.
“Going with the flow” is a common way to view life nowadays, and even though I understand the rationale behind that, this way of experiencing reality has been taken far out of context.
For me, going with the flow means to learn to accept and to work with the things you cannot change immediately. Avoiding becoming paralyzed by the negative aspects of your life and using them to propel yourself into a better position: When life gives lemons, make lemonade, right?
“Going with the flow” does not mean that you should strive for idleness and accept with resignation the (negative) results that your lack of action has yielded. Going with the flow does not mean that you must settle for an unfulfilled life.
I like the “When life gives lemons, make lemonade” phrase, but if you don’t like lemonade, you don’t have to drink it for the rest of your life. When life gives lemons, make lemonade and sell it, or trade the lemons for some oranges or apples or whatever you drink. Hustle your way into better experiences and don’t settle for less just because your present circumstances don’t match your intentions.
Going with the flow is a great strategy when you get to set the flow in the direction of your goals, which is completely possible. But if you go with a flow that gets you farther from your dreams every minute that goes by, then you are living life in autopilot. There are few things in life that you can be absolutely sure you will regret by the end of it, and this is one of those.
Getting used to give away the control of your experiences under the excuse of going with the flow is a dangerous habit. Sooner than you think, you will subconsciously relinquish the wheel of your life and it will spin out of control. When this happens, the flow can be a very frightening place and like an elephant going rough, regain control can become a challenge in itself.
Instead of living in autopilot, I prefer to have the control of my own life, of my circumstances and my own results. The only way to successfully achieve this is to accept full responsibility for your life and everything in it. You cannot have control without responsibility.
This doesn’t mean that you have to live your life struggling against everything that comes your way. The amazing thing about accepting responsibility and striving for control is that soon the flow that used to get you away from your goals, will suddenly change direction to work with you.
You might have to do some work at first, but if you commit to improving your life and being disciplined about it, the results will start to show up in every area of your reality and in the most amazing ways.
Whether it is starting a new business, ending an unhealthy relationship or learning a new language, the struggle is only temporary, and when you acknowledge the positive nature of challenges, it is an even shorter period of time.
Just as weightlifting is a challenge at first, if you just stick to it for a little longer, not to make you suffer, but because you understand that is a natural phase of the process, you will soon see results and by this point, it won’t be a struggling anymore. It will still be a challenge because you want to improve and grow, but you will find tremendous pleasure in challenging yourself from now on.
In the same way that practicing sports becomes addictive when you start to get results, challenging yourself and self-discipline also becomes an addiction once you understand the principles behind it and set a path of self-improvement and personal development for yourself.
If procrastination is the favorite subject of self-improvement authors, then “purpose” is not far behind, and this is not a coincidence. It’s very hard to commit to anything when your actions are not driven by a clear purpose.
I am not talking about the I-am-the-chosen-one purpose; I refer to that feeling of having a bigger and meaningful goal inspiring your actions. Your life’s purpose becomes the reason why you are here in the first place, is the mission of your life and the fuel of your existence. You might not be aware of it yet, but you know deep within yourself that your first step in life, from a self-improvement perspective, is to figure this out.
Some people think that purpose is pre-established prior to our existence and is often called “destiny,” and others believe that we are able to choose our life’s purpose out of our experiences and preferences.
Whether you feel you must figure out the purpose set aside for you before you were born or you believe you must choose your life’s purpose based on your values and your opinions of right and wrong that have formed out of your life’s experiences, you are absolutely right and is absolutely irrelevant. It does not really matter which one of these two paths you are inclined to believe, the end result is pretty much the same: A fulfilled, purpose-driven life.
Your passion, on the other hand, is the way you have chosen to fulfill your life’s purpose at a given moment of your life. The way you know that certain activity is aligned with your life’s purpose is by paying attention to the way it makes you feel.
Your emotions are a designed to point out clearly and soundly if you are on the right path (Again, whether you believe is a destined or a chosen path, is completely irrelevant) or astray.
Your life’s purpose is the message you are here to deliver; your passion is the means you have chosen to deliver such message. The means can, and will change, over the course of your life but the message will remain pretty much the same.
For example: Your life’s purpose might be to help persons in emotional or spiritual distress (the message) and at a certain point in your life you might feel inclined to deliver such message by becoming a priest or a nun. This may be a right way to deliver your message for some time but it is entirely possible that as you grow or evolve as an individual the way you have chosen to deliver your message must evolve, too. So if you continue to use such method beyond this point, you won’t feel the passion anymore because you have fallen out of alignment with your life’s purpose.
People confuse purpose with passion, so when the passion they felt before fades away, they end up feeling empty and confused because they instinctively know that the world without purpose is a very gloomy place.
It is understandable that if your goals are devoid of all-purpose, you will hardly find the motivation to build self-discipline to take action towards achieving such goals or dreams. Even when you might be aware that your goals are important to your overall quality of life, the motivations you get to harness (if any) will soon disappear.
The answer to this dilemma is simple in theory, but might require some serious introspection in practice: Every time you set yourself a new goal, relate some aspect of it (or all of it, if possible) to your life’s purpose.
You don’t need to have your purpose completely clear to make this work. You might know instinctively that your purpose is to help people in need, even when you are not sure how (i.e., your passion), but even with this vague idea you can find a way to relate your actions to your purpose.
If you effectively manage to do so, you will have just gained an extra set of batteries, because every time you will be about to give up and completely willpower drained (what happened to your set path?!) you will remember that your actions are not only for yourself but also for the achievement of a bigger and more important mission.
Jane has had some struggles with her writing lately. She now has set up her blog and the site is running live! Even when it has only a couple of months, the blog is getting a decent amount of visitors each day and some nice engagement. But there is no use to a live blog without content.
After the excitement of the first few weeks has faded away, she now feels that producing content for her blog is an additional job to an already full schedule. She continues to enjoy cooking, but she just can’t get herself forced to blog about it systematically.
When a friend suggests that she could buy content for her blog from other authors, Jane is genuinely intrigued. After a short session of research, Jane confirmed that she can actually hire people to write content for her blog and this way she can keep posting consistently. She will still write some articles from time to time, but by outsourcing most of the content of her site, she doesn’t have to worry about it anymore.
So Jane went ahead and hired a couple of writers and in less than a week, she had seven “original” pieces of content! She scheduled the articles over the coming days and forgot about it. Much to her surprise, when Jane came back to check the statics of her blog (how many people visits the site) she finds that the amount of visitors over the last few weeks have plummeted considerably. “I don’t understand, it was going so well! How could so many people lose interest so quickly?” She asked herself.
What made Jane’s blog interesting in the first place was the fact that it was truly unique and relatable. People could tell that the content was being written by someone with direct knowledge and expertise about the subject. It was not just a matter of recipes, but about the way it was presented, written, and explained. When Jane took the easy pathway and stopped investing time and effort into her blog and instead produced average content, her results went down to average as well.
Now she has learned her lesson. Jane now understands that the whole point of her blog is to make her feel good and to enjoy the time she invests on it. Moreover, Jane has realized that the point of the blog is to be able to share her passion for cooking with others. It’s much more fulfilling to post one really good article a week, which she can genuinely enjoy writing than to post five crappy pieces of content. This is much more aligned to her purpose (sharing) and her passion (cooking and writing about it), and it’s translated in the quality and value of her content.
She is back writing her own content even if it is just a few times a week and the stats are going up again!
The fourth principle of self-discipline is automatizing the small tasks that suck up our time and energy on a daily basis. Only when you have gotten rid of the need to pay attention to every little thing every second, have you freed your mind and body to pursue personal development and self-discipline, and by doing so, your dreams and goals.
When we talk about self-improvement and personal development, we tend to look at the big scheme of things: The meaning of life, the purpose of our existence, the ways to follow our passion! All of this is important and of course we must pay attention to it, but often we tend forget the little things that crowd our everyday life. We are so focused on reaching the sky that we stumble to everything on our way because we refuse to look down for a second.
On self-discipline, this is translated into paying attention to the little obstacles in our way that we tend to overlook or underestimate. If they were just one or two small tasks, we might get away ignoring them, but the small things tend to pile and, before we know it, we are buried under a mountain of “insignificant” tasks.
I call them “the Lego obstacles”: Insignificant and irrelevant in relation to our bigger or important goals, but just in the exact wrong place when you are running late to the most important meeting of your life. They can find the way to get in your way and turn your life upside down in a minute.
Getting a clear picture of our goals, setting up a progressive training plan, getting rid of all possible future distractions and aiming for the big juicy challenges are necessary steps towards achieving our dreams and fundamental principles of self-discipline, but all our guns will serve for nothing if we don’t find a way to get the small tasks out of the way.
All the effort we make towards developing self-discipline is of little use if in the second we intend to execute, we remember we have a million small, non-related, irrelevant things to do: Shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, taxes, paying bills, home maintenance, childcare, etc.
And this is just for home — if you include work, the list grows even longer. These things may not reach your A-list for importance in relation to the path you have set out on towards your dreams and goals, but either way they still need to be done.
We tend to pile small things onto our plate, particularly when we know these things won’t be hard to accomplish. But they require a minimum of time and effort, that when compounded, can become the difference between failure and success. Whether it is a messy desk or a spammed inbox, if you are unable to resolve the small things, how can you tackle the big ones?
What does the desk have to do with losing weight or the inbox with writing that novel? Everything. It has everything to do with you and your ability to get things done.
The first thing to do when dealing with the Lego obstacles is pretty obvious, yet often ignored: Get rid of it! Get rid of every single object, activity or person that doesn’t make sense in the life you have pictured for yourself.
I know it is easier said than done, but this is when developing self-discipline begins; even before you start training for the marathon.
What purpose does that painting class you take every Wednesday night serve? I know it might be of great benefit and total sense to many people, but is it for you? Does buying that particular item you are checking out online bring you closer to your goals, or it will become one more distraction in a room full of it?
Some people, things, and activities in our lives don’t serve a purpose, but they don’t take time and energy out of us either. We keep them around just in case. But some others do drain us constantly. Clutter, a “busy” schedule, and unhealthy relationships are some of the bigger enemies of personal development and self-discipline.
But you are the only one who can make the choice to get rid of them. And you are the only one who should make such a choice because it is the choosing that has the biggest effect on yourself. Choosing to get rid of the things in your life that in one way or another drag you down is the only way to grow stronger.
Examine your physical and emotional reality, and acknowledge all the things that even when are not directly related to your goal, drain your energy or your time on a consistent manner.
There are other things that drain energy and time out of you, but you know there is no way you can get rid of them. There is no use in fighting against them; instead, focus your energy on just getting it done. One at a time and get done with it.
The funny thing about the Lego obstacles is that they usually are not something hard to do or accomplish. All that is required to get them out of the way is to invest a small amount of time and some effort. It might be boring or monotonous, but it’s not hard. Getting the inbox to zero is not a particularly challenging endeavor; sure it can take time, but you know you have biggest challenges in your life. Walking out the dogs every morning or clean the backyard is not a lifelong challenge for most people, yet this simple task that we often avoid and procrastinate on can suck away our energy, attention, and time (when done wrong), which prevents us from focusing 100% on our goals and dreams.
The point here is that time and attention are a currency when it comes to self-discipline, so we must be smart about how we spend it.
Like I said before, there are some little things that you have to do no matter what: You have to walk the dog or nobody else will; you must clean up that inbox or you will get fired, and the backyard will look like the jungle of Lost of you don’t pour some time on it. We all have our own Lego obstacles that demand our attention no matter what.
So then just do it! If you know you have to do it, that nobody else will and that this simple, silly thing is on your way to greatness, then just do it! Get on with it!
Chances are that you have or at least want the best and fastest computer you know, and the best and most updated software related to your industry. You also have or want the fastest, most useful smartphone that the market offers. You drive or would like to drive that new car model that claims to be fastest, or the most efficient.
You thrive for efficiency in every aspect of your life and that is great. But do you hold the same standards for yourself?
Are you, as an individual, the most efficient that you can be? Or is there some aspect of your life where you are not a top performer? Maybe you are an amazing lawyer or doctor, great skills and knowledge, but you are overweight and have more than one unhealthy habit. Maybe you are a great athlete, but your personal life, your relationships (if any) are far from ideal.
Why do you demand more from the world than what you demand from yourself?
Now, this doesn’t mean that you should donate all your belongings (but it will be nice if you donate all the stuff you are not using and declutter your life a little bit), quit your job and burn all your bridges in order to join the Red Cross and fly to Africa (Nothing wrong with that, though). What this idea is meant to provoke is the fact that you should strive for efficiency not only in relation to your physical surroundings, but also about yourself.
Take a hard look at your most common activities: Let’s say you spend most of your time managing that inbox, walking the dog and cleaning the backyard. These are non-negotiable Lego obstacles in your way to fulfillment and there is no way you can avoid them.
The thing is, you are using your time in an inefficient manner and therefore wasting it. And time is the most expensive currency of humans being; you can always get more money, but you can never get more time, and the time wasted is gone forever.
The time you waste in unnecessary tasks or by being inefficient about the necessary ones is time you could have spent improving your skills, developing your self-discipline, acquiring knowledge or simply chilling out. So, you need to develop a motivation to be efficient, even when dealing with unimportant tasks or while doing work that will not have a direct economic benefit to you.
There is another bunch of task that we do every day just for the sake of routine. Even when these tasks must be taken care of, there is no real reason why we should be the ones taking care of them, and yet we do because we always have. We are bound by routine.
In today’s world, technology is getting more and more into our daily routines and companies are trying to take most of our routine tasks off our shoulders and pass them into the hands of something wired (or even wireless). Technology is eager to do our jobs (Out of pure solidarity, according to Skynet).
Take advantage of this. I’m not saying that you should take the blue pill, but simply use the technological resources at you hand, within you economical means, to free the most amount of time you can.
Something as simple as setting your bills up for auto payment can free up a couple of hours here and there. Another great example of automatization is cleaning robots. I was very skeptical about them since I was not ready to get into The Jetsons era yet, but a few years back I bought one and it became the new best friend of everybody at home. The dog was not very happy, though.
Buying online is another great example of efficiency. Of course, not everything can be bought online and in some cases we do enjoy go out shopping; but for all the other times we wander around just looking for that one thing, we are wasting time. Go over to Amazon.com, Ebay.com or whichever shopping site you prefer and take a look. The chances are that the time you will spend looking for that item is a fraction of what you will spend looking around the mall.
Our friend Jane is back on track. She is writing consistently every weekend and scheduling entries for the rest of the week.
Jane realized that the main problem with creating content wasn’t a lack of creativity or ideas, she gets plenty of ideas when cooking or when she is talking about recipes with her friends. The problem was that when she sits to write, none of these ideas came to mind.
The reason for this was that every Saturday and Sunday when writing time hit the clock, Jane was busy doing a million other things. She was resolved to make this goal work, so she left anything that she was doing, no matter what, and sat in front of the computer.
She sat in front of a blank page and stared at it for an hour. How could this be possible? She had so many plans for the Sunday entries!
Jane was stumbling through her Lego challenges without even knowing it. But she eventually realized what the problem was, and it had nothing to do with creativity.
First of all, even when she respected the “writing time” every weekend, when such time came she was always in the middle of something. She stopped and sat to write, but all the things she had to do remain in the back of her head. She was not fully focused on her writing because subconsciously she was thinking about that presentation she had to get ready for Monday morning, groceries, getting a present for that friend’s birthday tomorrow, etc. Jane was committed to writing and she was willing to put everything on hold every time it was necessary, but this was not enough. Those small things, even when had nothing to do with her writing, were getting on her way to achieving her goals.
So how could she take those things out of the way? She couldn’t just pay somebody to do these things and someone had to do them!
The solution was simply to change the time when the writing happened. Instead of using her self-discipline to leave everything that she had to do and sit down to write every Saturday and Sunday, she simply used the same amount of self-discipline to wake up one hour early every week day and the first thing she did was open her laptop and start writing. At this time of the day there was no distractions, no phone ringing, no groceries to shop, there was little that could be done at this time, so nothing interfered with her writing, consciously or subconsciously. Waking up early was not easy, but required the same amount of willpower that paused her life for a couple of hours every weekend.
The best thing was that she realized that she could get a lot more done writing 45 minutes every morning from Monday to Friday, than in a couple of hours every weekend. And she felt much more clear-headed and clever at this time of the day (once fully awake), which had as a consequence better content and, therefore, a more successful blog. Jane was not working harder, but smarter.
“Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements, and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.”
– Thomas Carlyle
Perseverance is the firm continuance on a course of action in spite of difficulty or failure, and the fifth and last principle of self-discipline.
Big goals require self-discipline and willpower. We have discussed the ways to hack these two requirements in the previous chapters. We have found that by changing the way we think about challenges and what we expect from willpower, we are now able to have a better understanding of what self-discipline can do and what we must do in order to get ourselves closer to our dreams.
But no matter how much planning we do, there is always a latent possibility that an unforeseen setback shows up. It could be an unexpected event that we couldn’t have predicted or a personal trait or belief that we ignored about ourselves and now stands in our way to success. Perseverance is what will allow you to continue on your drawn path despite the presence of setbacks. Without perseverance, we would quit after the first failure.
Imagine that the Coyote quits the chasing of the roadrunner after the first flop. He may have not been the smartest cartoon character, but that coyote was one perseverant fellow.
Perseverance is fed on results. The better and more results you can record, the more perseverance you will have and you will be willing to invest more energy and time into a given task or goal.
Every action, even the ones that lead to failure, yield results. The key point is to learn to see the positive results out of such actions and take note of every single one. I know that when we fail there is nothing more annoying than someone telling us that our failure was a “learning experience,” but I am here to say to your face that every failure it is a learning experience. And a highly underrated one, I may add.
The next time you fail while trying to accomplish a goal, sit down with paper and pen, or in front of a word processor, and list every single thing you have learned from the moment you decided to tackle this particular task or goal, and the time you failed. List every single thing that comes to mind, short or long, whether it can be summarized in a word, a sentence or you need a whole paragraph to put it down; whether is something you learn about yourself or about others. After you feel there is nothing more you could pour onto the paper, or the screen, look at the list, and now knowing what you know, write down what you would do differently if you had to start all over again.
And now, start again and make it better.
In real life, getting great at something doesn’t happen overnight. Unlike movies, we don’t have flash forward scenes in real life that take us from the starting point to the finish line in 60 seconds. So the fact that you are not the best in the world at whatever you have chosen to do after 1 month of trying doesn’t mean you will never be.
Getting better takes time and hard, smart work. It is easy to lose motivation without perspective.
The best way to get an accurate perspective in relation to our dreams and goals is by tracking our results consistently. If we do so, we will soon find that even when we are not yet where we want to be, we have improved immensely when compared to the place where we were yesterday.
We don't have to get from 0 to 100 in 30 days. If we only improve 1% every day, after a year we will be 364% better than the year before. A whole year might seem like a lot of time, but time will pass anyway, whether you choose to improve or not. How different your life would be today if you had made the decision to exercise for 15 minutes 4 times a week a year ago?
15 minutes a day is not a lot, and 2014 went by quicker than you thought, right? Well, you will feel the same way a year from now.
So start walking towards your dreams and goals, even if is just a little bit every day. But count your results! Take note of every improvement you make along the way, no matter how insignificant it seems right now, because the “little” improvements you will make one year from now will seem like a lifetime of work in comparison with the improvements you made on your first week. But the only way to realize this is by taking notes along the way.
Assess your success not by comparing where you stand from where you want to be, but by comparing where you stand from the place you stand before.
Giving up is a taboo in today’s world. We learn from an early age that we must not give up, we must go on with the goal we have set and we have achieved it no matter what. Only losers give up.
This, of course, is nonsense. We are confusing perseverance with stubbornness.
There are many reasons to abandon a particular goal, and lack of self-discipline is only one of many. Certainly, we must be cautious not to adopt quitting as a habit, but before we decide to keep going forward with a goal that our mind screams to get rid of, we must understand the reasons behind our desire to quit.
If the reason is a lack of self-discipline, or willpower depletion in a crucial moment, then by all means do whatever it takes to keep going forward, but be smart about it. If you haven’t set a progressive training path, or didn’t take care of the small obstacles that you find in your everyday routine, then do it now. Take a break from your goal, not because you are quitting, but to charge your batteries and to re-plan your approach and strategy. Chances are you will come back stronger than before.
But if the reason that you look forward to quitting the pursuit of this particular goal or dream is because the idea of achieving it doesn’t excite you anymore, then each passing second you spend thinking about it or acting towards it, is another wasted second. The whole point of goals and dreams is to improve our lives and to grow.
Whether it is a wealthier life, better relationships, emotional or spiritual connection or simply new experiences, there is not a single goal that you would set, that wouldn’t provide growth. And as we grow, we change, and also change our goals and dreams.
If we hold onto the goals we had ten years ago, there are only two possible scenarios: 1. We are not growing and evolving enough as individuals if our goals remain the same for a long period it time; or 2. We are holding onto old expectations just for the sake of pride or fear (of change).
Milton Hershey, the founder of Hershey Chocolate, first started his career with candy production companies. Hershey started three separate candy-related ventures and watched all of them fail, one after the next. But he didn’t stop there. He realize what was working and what wasn’t. He gave up these ventures in order to start a new one: Hershey founded the Lancaster Caramel Company and started seeing enormous results. Believing in his vision of milk chocolate for the masses, he eventually founded the Hershey Company and became one of the most well-known names in the industry.
If Hershey had remained obsessed with making work his first candy companies, he would never have become one of the most famous names in the chocolate industry, and we wouldn’t have the Hershey chocolate bar.
There is no shame in dropping a goal that is not aligned anymore with your life. You will be doing a disservice to yourself by holding onto the past. And if you finally get to achieve that particular goal despite your lack of motivation and better judgment, you will realize you won’t feel fulfilled at all; maybe you will get a feeling of freedom, but not fulfillment. All the time and effort you invested on archiving an old dream that means nothing anymore could have been invested in a new project aligned with your current desires and expectations of growth.
This was not the first time Robert struggled with his weight. He knows by experience that he will need self-discipline and a decent amount of well-placed willpower.
He had tried diet and exercises before, and he had quit many times. On some occasions he managed to get some results, but after his will gets weak he often ended up more overweight than before.
But now Robert knows that quitting is not something to be ashamed of, and all the times he failed helped him to better understand his body and the results some of his habits had on his health.
Robert had failed in controlling his weight during all his life, but instead of feeling discouraged, he now felt more motivated than ever because he understood he would never had more knowledge about weight loss than today. And now, knowing how to develop his self-discipline and harness his willpower to serve more efficiently, he was ready to give it a shot once again.
Perseverance is not stubbornness. Perseverance is understanding that when you set an intention or aim for a goal, failure is not the end of the road, but simply a bump along the road.
“Empty your cup so that it may be filled; become devoid to gain totality.”
We, humans, are natural gatherers. We love to accumulate stuff. If you are sitting at home right now, take a look around you and honestly question if you absolutely need every single thing that you see.
Chances are you don’t need half of the stuff around you, yet there it is.
You are already thinking about all the reasons why you could not get rid of any of these things, just in case I come up with the crazy suggestion that would be a good idea to donate some of it or simply throw them away. After all, you might need that Nacho Libre’s promotional mug someday. Don’t worry; right now I am more interested in your ideas and fundamental beliefs about reality and how this relates to self-discipline.
Just as we hold on with teeth and nails to material objects we collect over the years, our mind also gets fixated on ideas and beliefs that do not serve us too much today. Ideas and beliefs we gathered growing up and even as adults on our walk through life.
If you get defensive when someone suggests throwing away your Nacho Libre memorabilia, no wonder you have so much trouble trying to open your mind to new ideas and getting rid of the old ones.
I’m not referring to our music taste or to our favorite meal. I am talking about our fundamental beliefs about life, those beliefs that affect the way we see and experience reality. Some examples of flawed beliefs that we will identify and modify shortly are “We should avoid challenges as much as we can” or that “The purpose of self-discipline is making us go through displeasing experiences, even against our better judgment.”
We all have a set of fundamental beliefs, even if we do not think about them consciously. These beliefs are the rules of the game, what give a sense of order and meaning to the events and situations we encounter throughout our lives. We cannot play the game of life without it. The problem is that when we accept a set of rules without seriously thinking about it, we end up playing by the rules of someone else’s game.
It is a terrifying moment when we first realize that we are living our life by a pre-ordered set of beliefs created by somebody else and that we have accepted this without a beep, and actually without knowing we were doing so.
What, out of all the things we believe, is a product of our own comprehension and based on our personal experience and what is a washed up belief set by default by society out of convenience?
For an established period of time reset your beliefs database and start over from scratch. Allow yourself to discover the world again and build a set of rules on top of the ideas that make sense to you, not over the pre-packaged, labeled ideas imposed by society. The worst that could happen is that by the end of the trial period, you decide to go back to your previous set of beliefs, but that’s very unlikely.
Set a period of 30 days where you approach every experience you have had as something completely new. Out of every experience, your beliefs about life and reality will develop anew. Read and learn as much as you can, but now with an open mind, like a newborn. Learn new concepts and re-learn old ones. But this time, question everything. This time no one is a “master,” no one is “the authority” on anything and you should only adopt the ideas and beliefs that make sense to you.
The beliefs that influence us the most are those that operate below our consciousness. Those truths that we have accepted as facts, even though we have no concrete evidence of their accuracy or their effects. To effectively challenge our beliefs, we must question every single conclusion that our mind comes up with. Take nothing for granted.
This period of time will be like taking care of a garden (your mind) that has been left unattended for a long time. Weeds (flawed beliefs) have grown and taking them out one by one is not very productive. You must raze the whole garden and start planting again, this time giving much more attention to what you allow to get inside.
To live your life under the parameters established by society just because questioning them is too tiresome or too problematic is like buying a PC in 2015 with Windows 95 (Why would I buy a PC, you might be asking, but it’s just for the sake of the point) and make no attempt to upgrade. You can go and live your life with your old operating system running on your brand new machine, but you will be missing the opportunity to exploit the full potential of the equipment in your hands.
Mental blocks are flawed beliefs that have crystallized in our minds. The mere idea of debunking such beliefs can make us feel uncomfortable. Getting rid of our mental blocks is harder than modifying any flawed beliefs, but it’s certainly not impossible. All it takes is the willingness to improve and open the mind.
The effects of holding mental blocks are pretty much the same as holding flawed beliefs, with the only differences being that mental blocks can endure within our model of reality (the way we see the world) even when we have factual evidence that our understanding is incorrect or inaccurate.
Not every time our willpower gets weak and our self-discipline goes away, mental blocks are the ones to blame; but if, after we have set out a progressive training schedule, we have taken care of the small obstacles that deplete our willpower unnecessarily and we have learned to save and use our willpower reserves in the most efficient manner, and yet we find ourselves unable to achieve moderate or great results, we might have a mental block or two in our way.
When we set a challenging goal, mental blocks influence our thinking and lead us away from the goals or the tools we subconsciously know are needed to achieve said goal. If, for example, our goal is to establish a steady stream of passive income, and we hold one or more mental block about wealth and/or work, our mind will list all of the reasons why passive income is not ethical, how money is the root of all evil or how we are not smart enough to put such a system in place.
Or if our goal is to lose weight, and we hold a mental block related to our physique or to physical appearance in general, our mind will produce thoughts revolving around ideas of how we are unable to change the way we look, or how the desire to change our weight is rooted in selfishness and materialism. It might sound ridiculous from the outside, but when we fall victim to our own mind, it can become a very serious problem, and sometimes “logical thinking” is not enough to set us free.
Mental blocks come in all shapes and forms, but they commonly manifest as an overly critical “common sense.” However, when you pay close attention to your “rational thinking,” you find that there is nothing of common sense about the excuses your mind is making up to protect you.
Mental blocks vary depending on the individual, but there are a few that seem to be fairly common when dealing with wealth and success:
I Will Most Certainly Fail, Why Bother?: You will fail. No matter what you do, you are going to fail, a lot. This is something you have to accept and the sooner, the better because there is no way out. And actually, this is a good thing because every time you fail, you are a step closer to your goal.
The only way to avoid failure is not to act at all, to go through life doing absolutely nothing, and ironically, this is the biggest failure I could ever imagine.
Allow me to let you know that if you are not failing, you are not trying. Stop avoiding failure, because by avoiding failure you are avoiding experience, growth, and true, long-lasting success.
Fear of failure can be paralyzing, particularly after bad experiences. But you must get over your fears and make taking action a steady habit. Get yourself into the habit of taking action and do it as often as you can, particularly when you feel fearful. Allow yourself to fail as many times as needed.
Congratulate yourself every time you fail, because you have come a step closer to your goals.
Don’t you ever allow the fear of failure to hold yourself from chasing your dreams and goals, because there is no bigger failure than standing still while life goes by.
I’m Not Good Enough: …or any of the different self-pity variants: I’m not smart enough, I’m not rich enough, I’m not pretty enough, etc. This one might actually be true. Maybe you don’t have the required amount of knowledge you will need to succeed at a given task, or maybe you don’t have the assets needed to level your stakes at a wanted enterprise. Acknowledging our weakness is the first steps towards self-development and improvement. Acknowledgment makes us a better, stronger individual. But let’s not confuse acknowledgment with resignation.
Understand that “not being good enough” is not a death sentence; it is simply one additional step to take on your way to your goals. If you are not good enough, then get good enough. And don’t say you can’t. Today you have something that no one has ever had before you, not your parents or your grandparents: You have the whole knowledge of the human race at the distance of your hand, and you can access it practically anywhere, anytime. Yet, you spend a great deal of free time watching funny videos.
Don’t say you can’t, because you do. You might not want to put out the effort, but you can.
Money Is Bad: This is a common one for entrepreneurs or people thinking about starting a new business on their own.
In the words of Margaret Thatcher: “It is not the creation of wealth that is wrong, but the love of money for its own sake.”
Money is neither good nor bad just as the materials used to fabricate explosive devices are neither good nor bad. The problem is that some people think of money as the end result, when money is nothing more than a stepping-stone towards your goals and dreams.
But thinking about money or wealth with a negative mindset will do nothing but discourage you from opportunities that could improve your financial situation or bring a great deal of wealth into your life.
It is not the wealth by itself that will define you, but what you do with it.
Only the Rich Gets Richer: This one is closely related to the last one and to financial success.
The fact that the rich get richer has nothing to do with your ability or capacity to generate wealth. In the 21st century, entrepreneurship has skyrocketed and new business owners have more tools today to develop their business than CEO’s of big companies had 20 years ago. You can set up a company in 15 different countries around the globe in 24 hours and without leaving your living room.
You can learn how to do the accounting of your company from watching YouTube videos or you could hire an accountant in India to do it for you, or a local freelancer if you prefer. Today you can set up a website in 20 minutes and only with a few clicks and $20.
Wealth and financial success have nothing to do with your current circumstances, but with your mindset; it’s not about resources, it’s about resourcefulness.
We all have flawed beliefs in one or more areas of our lives. For me, the biggest, more damaging ones were related to worthiness and freedom. After some self-examination, I was able to identify some fundamentally flawed beliefs and I understood that I had nothing to prove to anybody and that I was able to travel the road less traveled, even when no one before have done so.
Other important mental blocks I have been able to identify within my mind are related to success and wealth. I have changed the way I see wealth today, and by doing so, I have destroyed every mental block about it.
Self-examination and really getting to know ourselves is one of the most important goals we could set. It’s not a 5-step process, and can vary greatly for different persons, but the sole intention to do so is already a step in the right direction.
And like Martin Luther King Jr. said: “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
To summarize, the five principles of self-discipline, and therefore, the five steps on our way towards our goals or dreams are:
Acknowledgment: To accept what we can and can’t do is the first step. By acknowledging our shortcomings, we can come up with the best possible plan in order to counter our weak spots.
Harnessing Willpower: Understanding the true nature of willpower and its limits is of utmost importance if we want to harness it. By doing so, we can use willpower efficiently, and make it work with us and not against us.
Thrive for Challenges: Nothing worthwhile comes without some kind of challenge. Changing the way we see challenging moments or situations is not only positive to improve our self-discipline, but it also has amazing effects in every other area of our life.
Automatize: Getting rid of the small tasks that suck our energy and time every day, and automatizing those tasks that we cannot avoid is vital when we are pursuing our dreams and goals.
Perseverance: Nobody gets to become an expert, or even a decent performer, on their first try. Failure is a natural part of life and should never stop you from trying.
Just working hard won’t take us very far; we also have to work smart. And the same applies to self-discipline. Brute force can yield results only to some extent, but if we ignore our mindset behind every action or lack of action, we are destined to fail because the power of our mind will always beat brute force.
There is nothing wrong with failing, as long as we are prepared to learn from our failures and tweak our strategies the next time. If we keep repeating the same mistakes, it is probably because we keep doing things the same way.
Finally, let’s never forget that self-discipline is closely connected to motivation, which is derived from a purpose driven life and passion. This doesn’t mean that every goal we set should necessarily be connected to our life’s purpose or to the way we have chosen to live such purpose (passionate action); but without a doubt, our chances of success at any task increase significantly when we manage to relate such task or goal with a broader purpose.
Setting goals is the way we point out the path to improvement for ourselves. If we don’t know where we want to go, how can we know for certain that the way we are pointing at is the right one? That is the importance and purpose of goal setting, and the self-discipline needed to accomplish such goals.
GET NOW The Discipline Manifesto and take control of your actions TODAY! Beat procrastination for good and achieve the results of a productive but enjoyable life! (Yes, that is possible!) Learn to harness willpower to your advantage! What you'll get: - Redefined “discipline” for a new world and a new generation. - The key is not working harder, but working smarter. - A different approach to achieve different [and better] results. - Get rid of your limiting beliefs about what “discipline” means. Refund Policy If you don't like the book or don't find value after reading it, you can request to be refunded, as long as you do so within the refund timeframe (7 days counted from the date of purchase). Being a relatively short book, I'm sure you'll able to read it before the refund period expires! Give it a try and judge the book by yourself! You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain! A different approach to achieve different [and better] results Most authors that have written about self-discipline will tell you that you should take action despite the negative emotions associated with a particular goal; that you should force yourself to go to the gym even when you don't really enjoy it. Even while this approach might yield results for a limited period of time, the results do not last and we end up back at square one; or even worse, completely demotivated about our goals or our ability to make our dreams come true. The path to self-discipline as a habit is not by forcing ourselves to do what displeases us, but by understanding the reasons behind our emotions and modifying our beliefs in order to feel differently about the actions that need to be taken to achieve our goals. The Five Principles of Discipline The first step to master self-discipline is understanding what discipline really is, and we can do so by learning the five principles of discipline. Acknowledgment: To accept what we can and can’t do is the first step. By acknowledging our shortcomings, we can come up with the best possible plan in order to counter our weak spots. Harnessing Willpower: Understanding the true nature of willpower and its limits is of utmost importance if we want to harness it. By doing so, we can use willpower efficiently, and make it work with us and not against us. Thrive for Challenges: Nothing worthwhile comes without some kind of challenge. Changing the way we see challenging moments or situations is not only positive to improve our self-discipline, but it also has amazing effects in every other area of our life. Automatize: Getting rid of the small tasks that suck our energy and time every day, and automatizing those tasks that we cannot avoid is vital when we are pursuing our dreams and goals. and Perseverance: Nobody gets to become an expert, or even a decent performer, on their first try. Failure is a natural part of life and should never stop you from trying. By explaining the five principles, The Discipline Manifesto will not only walk you through the process of developing discipline as a skill, but will also point out the basics steps you must take to overcome inaction or unhealthy behaviours and habits. Allow Yourself to be Guided The Discipline Manifesto will become a guide for introspection and challenging the negative beliefs you might unconsciously hold, allowing you to become the master of your will!