How to Master and Embrace the Power of Self Discipline

How to Master and Embrace the Power of Self Discipline

Dustin Lien
March 12, 2015

I was listening to a podcast a couple of months ago, and the author of The Miracle Morning, Hal Elrod, was telling his truly miraculous story of how he literally died for 6 minutes, suffered permanent brain damage, rose up to be one of the top Cutco salesmen in the country, wrote a #7 best-selling book only to have his publisher flee the country with 100% of his royalties, built up a highly successful success-coaching business, became $425,000 in debt after the economy crashed in 2007, and then built his life and finances back up again after hitting his lowest of lows by developing a very intriguing morning routine he called The Miracle Morning.

I bought the book on Amazon for 10 bucks, and started implementing a lot of the elements he recommends based on his research of what some of the most successful people do first thing in the morning. It involves things like meditation or prayer, affirmations, visualization of success factors, exercise, reading, and writing all before 8am.

I was really good for about a week…since then it’s been on and off. I’ve been digging deep to figure out what I need to change in my life and mindset to improve and become consistent with this.

I’ve since tailored my morning routine more to fit my goals, and I’m on a 3-day streak. Go me. One of the main things I’ve been centering my morning routine around is writing my upcoming book, Blogging for Authority. I’ve found I’m much more productive at 5:30 in the morning while the rest of the world is asleep. No emails or texts or dogs barking. Just the sweet buzz of silence in the air. When I was writing It’s Time to Start last year, I wrote almost the whole book in the early mornings, so I already know it works well for me, I just have to become disciplined again.

What I’m really seeking with this morning routine is to form a habit of waking up early every morning, and writing. Whether it’s for a book, a blog post, journaling, whatever…just making a habit out of writing. Writing often is the foundation of maintaining creativity, and it helps me help people, which I enjoy doing.

What’s stopping me from accomplishing the formation of this habit is lack of self discipline, which is really the stronghold of any healthy habit.

Any time I’m trying to discipline myself with something new, I think back to 2013 when I trained and competed in a bodybuilding competition. It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever trained for—hands down, so I look to that time in my life as a reference of how to be disciplined.

I had to log everything I ate down to the calorie, every tenth of an ounce of body fat, every repetition of exercise, and even how I was feeling each day. I had to be that disciplined every day for 14 weeks leading up to the competition. And I rocked it.

So, how do people master self discipline?

Identify and eliminate temptations

If there are brownies in the house, I’ll find them, and I’ll eat all of them. If you’re trying to lose weight or eat healthy, you don’t want junk food around. If you’re trying to wake up early and write, you shouldn’t lay in bed with your laptop because you’ll be tempted to go back to sleep.

The more temptations and lazy triggers you can identify and eliminate, the better chance you have to stay on track. It’s not always as easy to identify as not buying junk food, but if you pay close attention and be honest with yourself, the temptations will show their ugly faces to you.

Surround yourself with the right people

It’s really hard to be disciplined with something when everyone around you (or even 1 person) is not supportive of it. Surround yourself with people who will motivate you, hold you accountable, and who want to see you succeed.

I have a couple of different accountability partners for different things, and it’s been a great experience having someone to “report” to. I’ve had some fun experimenting with it too. For example, to help myself wake up early, I’ve been texting a friend of mine who is trying to do the same thing. Some days we both succeed, some days 1 of us does, and some days neither of us do. We both confessed to each other that on a few occasions, we’ve texted each other that we were awake, and then went right back to sleep. To solve that, we tried out morning selfies where we’d send each other pictures of ourselves out of bed as proof. There are always creative ways to be more disciplined if we can identify our lazy triggers.

Don’t allow exceptions

This is more of a mental thing. If you are trying to form a habit and you break the streak for any reason, it is 10X harder to start back up again. It’s like when people give their dogs table food for the first time…there’s no going back.

Be hard on yourself and don’t make it optional to give in.

Set a lot of short-term goals

We’re more likely to be overwhelmed with a new routine or life change when we think too long term. It’s much easier to convince yourself that you can accomplish a goal of losing 2 pounds by next week rather than 50 pounds in 6 months. Set smaller goals to keep your spirit healthy.

Be Scheduled

If I want to finish my book my mid April and I have 20,000 words left, I need to write something like 500 words each day. Rather than writing whenever I have free time, I have to . Scheduling daily or weekly events will help you become disciplined as long as you stick to the routine so a habit can form.

Keep your eye on the prize

When you feel like giving up or letting yourself slip backward, just visualize the outcome if you remain disciplined. Visualization is a powerful tool to connect your emotions to your logic so you can keep pushing forward when times get tough.

If you fail or fall back a few steps, just dust yourself off and keep moving forward. Nobody can ever really be a master of self discipline, but that just means there’s always room for improvement.