In recent years, I’ve managed to become very disciplined in my life.
If there’s something that needs doing, I rarely procrastinate any more.
I don’t call in sick due to laziness or lethargy, I don’t skip workouts, I don’t skip meditation sessions.
I still want to improve my discipline even more in the coming weeks, months, and years, but I’m pretty happy with my progress so far.
In fact, just yesterday I was comparing my way of thinking with today’s, and it’s just amazing.
And to be honest, I know exactly what made the most difference in building this habit of discipline.
Here are the three things, in reverse order of importance, that I’ve done to become more disciplined in the last few years:
1. Decide to do everything as well as you possibly can
When I started to strive for excellence in all aspects of my life, meaning not only the things I found important, but also menial, tedious, and boring things like doing the dishes, hanging up laundry, cleaning toilets, sweeping floors, clipping toenails, everything.
What this really implies is that you put your full attention on whatever it is you need to do right now.
Another name for this concept?
When I started to become mindful of even the least exciting activities in my life, and attempting to do them as well as I could, a funny thing happened:
I started getting better results with the things that were actually most enjoyable and most important in my life.
I wasn’t really expecting that to happen, to be honest, so as you can imagine I was pretty thrilled with the results. And I still am.
So apply yourself fully to whatever is at hand, even if it’s dirty work, even if you wish you were doing something else. Do it as well as you can and that discipline will seep into all aspects of your life.
2. Start a journal
This may not seem very related to developing stronger discipline, but in fact it’s one of the most effective methods I’ve discovered for doing just that.
What happens when you start a journal, at first, is nothing comes out.
You try to write, you may even sincerely want write, but you just don’t know what to write.
I know that’s what happened when I started keeping a journal.
There was a definite learning curve, to be sure, but once the journaling wheel starts rolling there’s no stopping it.
In my life, keeping a journal has become a self-perpetuating entity. What I mean by that is that it’s become so instrumental to keeping my life on track that stopping is no longer an option.
Quitting journaling would be paramount to quitting life at this point.
And we can’t have that.
So what should you write about?
Well, dig in there. Start by writing just what you’re thinking. Or what you think you’re thinking. Do that for a full page, even two.
Now you’ve gotten in the groove, start figuring out what’s weighing down on you.
Everyone, at all points in life, will have some problems or issues that need resolving, or aspects of themselves or their relationships that need improving. Without that, life would be just about meaningless.
But the thing is, if you don’t know what’s wrong, how can you possibly expect to know what needs to be done?
You see, in many cases, procrastination is simply a result of not knowing what needs to be done or why it should be done in the first place.
It’s been many years since I started keeping a journal, and I’ve kept many kinds. Voice recorders, digital journals, and plain old paper.
They all work, and each has its advantages.
Although it’s been a long time since I started, I still clearly remember many instances where I solved major life issues (or at least figured out what needed to be done, which is half the battle) just by writing about it enough.
Relationships that needed ending, bad habits that needed to be rooted out, thought patterns that needed optimizing or disintegration.
Journaling is the best way I’ve found for life optimization.
It’s like defragmenting your mind. Like alphabetizing the file cabinet of your brain.
It let’s you discover what’s important and what’s not, and what needs letting go, and what needs letting in.
So find 15 minutes every day to write down what’s going through your mind, and reap the benefits.
3. Daily meditation
I left meditation until last because it’s the habit that has most improved my discipline in the last five years.
If you only take one thing to heart from this article, let it be this: Meditation can open doors in your life, the existence of which you cannot conceive.
If you apply yourself to meditating every morning and every evening, all aspects of your life will become clearer.
The discipline required to sit down, even for as little as ten minutes, and follow your breath or your bodily sensations, is immense. Especially if you haven’t done it before.
But it becomes easier with time.
And you will find that discipline in all other areas will also become easier.
You see, meditation is, in part, an exercise in discipline.
Over time, as you meditate more, you’ll want to meditate even more.
And in my experience, the more you meditate (at least up until the 2 hours daily mark), the more your discipline will develop.
Meditation is sometimes uncomfortable or painful and often mind-numbingly boring, although the deeper you go, the more interesting it becomes.
My point is, the discipline you need to exercise to consistently sit down and subject yourself to pain and boredom is immense, but the results will speak for themself.
Start a habit of daily meditation today. Start with five minutes, and work yourself up from there.
It’s not rocket science, it’s actually very simple.
Just sit down and observe. Observe your thoughts, feelings, and sensations, without engaging or judging.
Or follow your breath. There are tons of great articles and guided meditations out there for free, so there’s no excuse not to start.
Believe me, it will be the best change you ever make in your life.
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