Discipline means you gain control of your actions enforcing obedience to your thoughts. Your conscious mind should take the lead instead of emotions in order to gain self-control. Discipline is the main reason for success. Working towards a long term goal for years requires a superhuman willpower.
The Spartans were famous for their seemingly endless amount of willpower. Every single one of their warriors lived a life of discipline. They were not born like that. In fact, no one is born with an above-average discipline. Discipline is learned. And you can learn it, too, future superhero.
You may have already heard that willpower works like a battery. You have a finite amount at the beginning of the day and every little decision depletes your willpower-battery further. Once it is empty you only act out of habit or for emotional reasons. Sleeping will charge your willpower-battery so you can start again next morning.
But this explanation for willpower is a myth! Your willpower is finite but it does NOT work like a battery. It does not have an upper limit. Instead willpower and discipline are more like a muscle. To develop a strong mind you need to train your willpower. But practicing your willpower needs to be intentional, it doesn´t happen by accident.
First, you need to realize that your willpower depletes during the day. Sticking to a healthy diet in the morning is a lot easier than sticking to it in the evening after a long day of decision-making. Eating sugary treats can help recharging your willpower. That is why you crave high-calorie food when faced with tough decisions.
Since you will want to use your willpower only for important tasks try to minimize the amount of willpower you use for unimportant matters.
Mark Zuckerberg wears the same outfit every day. Choosing your clothes in the morning is a decision that depletes your willpower. Either wear the same outfit every day or choose your clothing for the next day in the evening before going to bed.
The same applies to breakfast. Eating the same foods every day will not only create a habit but also conserves your willpower and builds discipline.
Habits do not exhaust your willpower-muscle. Whenever you do not have the discipline for anything you will rely on habits. Try to build as many good habits as possible so you can use your willpower for other important tasks.
If being disciplined all day long sounds horrible to you right now don´t worry. Just because you have discipline doesn´t mean your life will only consist of pain. The more pain you expose yourself to the more pain you will be able to withstand. Taking cold showers daily will not be painful two months from now if you make them a habit.
People cringe when they hear I work out at least six days a weak. But I did it for months now and it just became a habit. I don´t even think about it anymore. I wake up, drink a cup of black tea and head to the gym on autopilot. It does not deplete my willpower to do that.
Now imagine what three years of going to the gym almost every day will do to your body. Women at the street will stare at your broad shoulders and bulging biceps. You just need to build the habit once and then stick to it. That´s the power of discipline.
The goal is to build enough willpower to withstand the painful road to success. If success was easy everybody would be successful. The Spartans knew about the importance of discipline. That´s why they were so successful.
In the beginning of your willpower-muscle training you need to get rid of temptations. If you know that browsing your Instagram feed distracts you from working on your business uninstall Instagram. Get rid of the cookies on the shelf if they are tempting you.
Don´t worry! You WILL get to a point where you will be able to easily resist temptations. But do not try to start at that point. You will fail if you overdo it.
The best way to build more discipline is to leave your comfort zone. Embrace being uncomfortable and the progress you make will be unbelievable. It´s enough to leave your comfort zone once a day for a month. It doesn´t matter how you make yourself uncomfortable – the first month is just about getting used to the feeling.
Most people do everything to avoid being uncomfortable. That´s why most people are not successful. But you are a superhero and you can develop Spartan discipline.
Talk to the girl that makes you flustered. Give a presentation in front of your colleagues. Try the dancing classes you were too afraid to visit. Go to the gym even if you are feeling weird between all these ripped guys. Just leave your comfort zone once a day. Don´t forget to take pride in yourself once you did it!
Once you notice your comfort zone expanding you are ready to implement good habits into your life. If you have no idea where to start because you want to change all at once try those habits:
getting up at 6 AM every morning (yes, even on weekends)
taking cold showers
doing 10 push ups daily (or more if you can)
reading one book per month (non-fiction is better than fiction)
practicing a skill for at least 5 minutes a day
Take at least four weeks for every habit. You will not be able to implement those habits all at once. Maybe you can work on two of those at a time. You are a superhero, I know you can do it!
Before starting this challenge you may think that cold showers and getting up early are useless torture. You are doing this to yourself. No one is forcing you to do it. And that is the essence of discipline. You don´t HAVE to do it but you do it anyway. You are becoming a Spartan, a warrior, a superhero. You are separating yourself from the average Joes and Janes.
After a while of practicing the habits above (or habits you chose yourself) you will become less and less addicted to instant gratification. Delaying instant gratification is a foolproof way to success.
You will be able to say “No, thank you” to the piece of cake, the cigarette, the pornography, the sweet temptations around you. Others will admire your superhuman discipline. But for you it will be easy. Because you are no longer dependent on meaningless pleasures it takes no willpower for you to decline the offer.
Real discipline is a very, very rare virtue these days.
There is no skill on this planet that could not be mastered by practice and discipline. If you want to be able to speak twelve languages or run a marathon – discipline will help you achieve long term goals. And a small amount of discipline will help you building more discipline.
After a few months you will have noticed a significant increase in willpower. If you want to take your discipline to Spartan levels actively expose yourself to temptations and try to withstand them. It´s normal to fail but the failure will only motivate you to work harder on yourself.
If you love chocolate carry your favorite kind of chocolate bar with you for a day. You are not allowed to eat it even when you are tempted to do it.
It sure is a challenge but once you complete it you can call yourself a real Spartan. Or a real superhero, whatever suits you best.
Stay strong, fellow superhero! A journey of a thousand miles starts with a tiny step. Take the step today and watch yourself turning into a superhero.