The Art of Self-Discipline

When it comes to the field of personal development the key focus is on inspiration and motivation. We all struggle with the motivation part and even inspiration on some days. The leaders of the personal development movement have the false belief that people can and need to be externally motivated to create a better life for themselves. I don’t believe that for a moment. If we want something bad enough, you betcha we’ll work for it. It has been my experience that such extrinsic motivation and inspiration are short lived because after a while, if deep down in your heart of hearts, it’s not something you really want, there isn’t much to keep you motivated now is there?

There’s even a name that was coined for this momentary height in motivation, the seminar high. The seminar high is when a person attends a motivation seminar or inspiration seminar and they leave with a high that lasts for a few days and a conviction this IS WHAT I need to do and want.  But after a few days that person’s level of motivation drops back down to whatever it was before they attended the seminar. When you are exposed to that kind of energy, you respond in kind. Take that energy away, and you energy returns to its normal state.  We are energy and we respond to energy around us.

You will find that this is true for sports, religious events, and even business events. In college, I remember once attending an event designed to get everyone pumped up about service and running your campus clubs. The problem I had was that they pumped us up so high that by the end of the seminar I was worn out. What was intended to pump me up actually left me deflated.

What I will say next is hard work and many won’t like it: They key to success at anything is discipline. OH yes, I said it … discipline. Self-discipline to be exact.

It is discipline that is forcing me to write this article while I am sick with allergies and sinus issues. It was discipline that forced me to work 80 to 100 hours a week to start my business. It was my own internal inspiration and motivational image that gave me the drive to achieve these things. NO ONE else could motivate me in the way I motivated myself.  My desire to achieve, to be a successful entrepreneur … that is what drove and still drives me.

Quickly, lets go back to motivation. In psychology, there are two forms of motivation, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic is the form of motivation that comes from within you, it is your internal flame that propels you into action. Extrinsic motivation comes from other people and it is temporary in nature.

For me, motivation is only useful at getting you started but it is self-discipline that will keep you going. There is that word again … Discipline is not something that comes natural to many. What I find is that self-discipline must be cultivated by the individual. You almost have to go to war with yourself at times and be determined to claim victory over yourself. That little internal voice (which I affectionately call my rebel within) tries like crazy to keep me where I am … it’s hard work and my rebel would rather just chill …

Lack of discipline is why many haven’t achieved the goals they set out to accomplish. They ALLOW other things to distract them … favorite television show, a good movie, … not that these things are bad. Not at all, but when you allow them to fill your time (which is extremely VALUABLE) you don’t have time to write that article, or send those emails, or speak at the conference … or whatever you are working toward.

Self-discipline is a skill that can make you successful in any area of life. The first step to cultivating self-discipline is to focus only on those things that will bring you closer to your goals. Stop wasting time on things that don’t matter, stop seeking entertainment and distractions. This is the first step and most important step to cultivating self-discipline and success. Once this step is in motion, you will then have to continue to fight with yourself to stay on track and to pursue your goals. Trust me on this one … I still succumb and have my Netflix binge nights on occasion or dinner with my friends, but only when I’ve done my article for the day, or sent those emails, or … well you get the picture.

Focus on one thing at a time and only one thing … you’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll meet your goals AND still have LOTS of fun along the way.  To your success!

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