7 Simple Strategies To Staying Disciplined
“We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is that discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.” Jim Rohn
Last year I was on a snowboarding trip with two of my best friends. I was telling them how I was having trouble staying disciplined to a meditation regimen I had created. One of them said a modification of the quote above, and it changed my life going forward. He said, “an ounce of discipline saves a pound of regret.” I was renewed. I didn’t miss a day after that.
One of the greatest challenges I hear from the athletes I work with is staying disciplined to the training routine.
Every athlete has to train their physical, technical, tactical, and mental skills to be the best they can be in their sport. Very few find this easy, and when they do, there is usually a personality trait or a past experience or hardship that leads them to this incredible drive.
For most people, it’s hard to stay disciplined. To do it well, you would need to spend several hours a week grinding, being uncomfortable, sacrificing relationships and fun activities.
The good news is that self-discipline is a skill that can be improved like any other. Once you become more in control of your actions and can be consistent with your daily process, you become more motivated, achieve results, and improve your self-esteem and happiness.
Here are the top 7 strategies to stay disciplined:
Create and Know Your Why
This is perhaps the most important element to staying disciplined. We must have a solid “why” for the reason we would put in all of the hard work towards our goal.
Write down why your goal is important to you. Go deep! It shouldn’t just say, “I want to win.” Well, why do you want to win? Why is winning important to you? What would it do for you to win? The more personal your why is, the more you uncover why you would be ok with the pain, suffering, and sacrifice to achieve your goals.
Create Process Goals!
“How do you eat an elephant? - One bite at a time”
All of us have long term goals that we would like to achieve. Maybe it is to hit a personal record in a meet or to complete more passes or to score more goals or points. The simple fact is that for these to occur, we need to focus on the daily things that allow us to improve our skills in those areas. Most people do not set appropriate process (daily) goals.
Having process goals that are specific and measurable allow us to feel that we have a plan in place and that we can achieve what we set out to do. It gives us confidence.
Each sport will look different. A golfer may want to chip 30 balls within 5 feet of the hole. A soccer player may want to spend 30 minutes on free kicks, curving balls to the back post. A swimmer may spend time drilling their freestyle technique, instead of worrying about speed.
Remember that each domain of the game (physical, technical, tactical, mental) needs its own process goals.
Need help creating appropriate goals? Ask the best coach you know what you could be doing daily to move towards the long term goal you set.
Make Your Process Goals Visible
Put them on your walls, phone, mirror. Remember that the more we see something, the more it gets programmed into our minds. If you struggle to stay consistent with something you want to do, you have to constantly remind yourself to do it.
Have an Accountability Partner
Things tend to always be easier when we include someone else. Would it help to have someone do your workouts with you… OR at least have someone check in on you to make sure that you have done what you said you would do. Partner accountability increases our likelihood that we will stick something out.
Plan and Remove Temptations
There is powerful advice in the saying, “out of sight, out of mind.” Have the self-awareness to know the things that will get in the way of your training, and be sure to remove them from your environment. If you want to eat healthier, throw away the junk food. If you want to use social media less, put away your phone. If substances are getting in the way of your productivity, throw them out! Plan for success by eliminating the things that will take it away!
Remember the 20 Second Rule
The flip side of removing temptations is to insert the things into our environment needed to kickstart our positive habits. Shawn Achor, a positive psychologist, and author of The Happiness Advantage, created the 20 second rule saying that for us to develop positive habits we need to create an environment that reinforces what we want by putting those items within 20 seconds of our grasp. If we want to get better at guitar, put it into the middle of the room. If we want to wake up and go work out, put your workout clothes and shoes right next to your bed.
I love this! Fill your environment with what you need to be successful while removing the items that get in the way. Simple, but effective!
Dealing with failure
It’s ok to not be perfect. We all have the best intentions of sticking to our plans but sometimes we need to modify our goals or accept a missed day here or there. Yes, do all that you can to be as consistent as possible but if you happen to miss a day, be kind to yourself and get back on track as quickly as possible. Check out this past blog of mine on dealing with failure: https://positivelyelite.com/blog/the-power-of-failure/
Best wishes on your path to success. Remember: “an ounce of discipline saves a pound of regret.”
Thanks for reading!
Powell Cucchiella, LMHC