I believe in freedom. The type of freedom which is based on responsibility. I also consider discipline indispensable in this, but it must be inner discipline, motivated by a strong demand to be free.
Warren Buffett was once playing golf with a bunch of people and they all bet a dollar on a particular hole. Buffett would not bet. “Why not, Warren?” they asked him, “you’re a billionaire.” Buffett’s response was priceless.
He said, “I never break my discipline.”
My friends jokingly tease me about being so routine… so disciplined. I take that good natured ribbing as a badge of honor. You see, to be successful I believe a person has to have a core set of personal success commitments that are unwavering.
I spoke about this concept in my ebook, The Financial Freedom Formula. In the book, I didn’t refer to these commitments as standards or even as principles. I felt that those words were to weak. No, something stronger is needed. They need to be convictions. And you don’t break convictions.
Jim Rohn said that “discipline is the bridge between goals and achievement.” Put another way, you can’t get from the goal stage to the achievement stage without discipline. There’s a gap between the two and discipline fills the gap.
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to study many successful people and I have observed just about all of them share one common key to success. It is not intelligence, education or training but self-discipline that has enabled them to excel.
How do you become more self-disciplined?
The first rule is to determine your “why”. Discipline, like motivation and persistence, are considered the “how’s” of success. The key is to first determine “why” you want to be financially free. And the answer can’t be flimsy. You’ll know it’s a flimsy answer if you use the words “like” and “want”. They simply aren’t strong enough. Your “why” has to be a deep emotional reason that gets to the core of you who you will become.
Answer this question: When will a smoker stop smoking? The answer: When his life depends on it. Past attempts at quitting stalled because he merely wanted to quit. However, when his life depends on it, he demands it from himself and he summons the discipline necessary to stop. The discipline was there all the time. He just hadn’t tapped into it yet.
And so it is with financial freedom. Once you identify the strong “why”, the “how” (discipline) that previously looked so difficult will now look easy. As the saying goes, “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Discipline is about doing whatever it takes. Doing whatever it takes is about having such a strong demand for success, that discipline changes from a burden to necessary tool for success. At that point, you no longer shun discipline, you welcome it and it becomes a part of your DNA.
The second rule is to understand that the cost of failing will always be much higher than the cost of discipline. Successful people never allow the possibility of ultimate failure (giving up) to enter their thoughts. They know that the price of not being discipline is too high, especially considering its alternative – regret. As they say, discipline weighs ounces, regret weighs tons.
Tony Robbins suggests that everyone conduct the rocking chair test. Imagine yourself very old, sitting in a rocking chair and looking back on your life. Which pain will seem worse for you at that moment, the temporary pain of discipline you endured for success or the permanent pain of regret? When compared to a life of mediocrity, it’s an easy choice to choose discipline and receive the rewards it brings.
The third rule of discipline is to create a chain. Years ago, a young comic was performing stand-up comedy, when he received his best advice ever from the already-famous comedian Jerry Seinfield.
Seinfeld explained his method for success: each January, he hangs a large year-at-a-glance calendar on his wall and, for every day he wrote new joke material, he drew a big red “X” over that day.
Drawing those Xs got to be pretty fun and rewarding, so he kept doing it. Eventually, he began to create a chain of red Xs.
The idea was to never break that chain.
Discipline feeds on momentum. The key is to start small and create a chain – a chain of waking up 30 minutes earlier, a chain of saving $50 a month or a chain of reading one success book a week. Newton’s law of motion states that “something in motion tends to stay in motion.”
Get a large calendar and a red marker. Put a big red X over every single day you stay with your chain. Think of those big red Xs covering an entire year. Are you willing to see how much success you can create from an entire year of discipline? Are you curious to see where that chain takes you?
Lou Holtz said “without self-discipline, success is impossible, period. ” Self-discipline is the fuel that gets you places. The happy by-product of discipline is success and living life on your terms.
Be the self-disciplined person required to be successful. Remember to create an emotional “why” and the discipline you thought lacking will suddenly appear. Picture what it will feel like to be successful and discipline becomes your tool. Lastly, create a chain of discipline and watch success appear. Put these three rules into practice to help you maintain your self-discipline every day. You can do this!
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