No, you don’t have to be a spartan to be disciplined; you don’t need to shave your head and exile yourself to somewhere cold to achieve your goals.
What achieving your goals does entail, however, is commitment.
Most people say that they want to be the next CEO or that they want to run a marathon, but it wouldn’t be surprising if you catch them coming in late to work or skipping a workout.
They aren’t committed enough. But disciplined people are.
There is much to be learned from how committed disciplined people are to their goals.
They aren’t born special either; they just focus on different things. Continue reading to learn the 11 traits of a disciplined person.
1. They Like Building Personal Systems
Author James Clear once wrote that winners and losers have the exact same goal.
This goes to show you that having a clear goal isn’t the only thing you need. It needs to be supplemented with an effective system — those being habits.
Every goal has a set of steps to them.
Writing and completing a book overnight is a challenge, which is why acclaimed author Stephen King takes his time with it.
He has published at least 60 novels in his writing career so far.
What’s his secret? Writing 2000 words or 6 pages each day. No more, and certainly no less.
It’s his dedication and consistency that have allowed him to complete so many of his novels.
2. They Don’t Rely On Motivation
It’s difficult to bring yourself to exercise when you’d rather sleep for 5 (or 30) more minutes.
Everyone gets that feeling, even athletes.
But as 23-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps said in an interview: “It’s what you do on those days that will help you move forward.”
This is what disciplined people do that others don’t: they show up when others wouldn’t.
They don’t wait for inspiration to strike before writing nor do they hold off on working out because they just don’t feel like it.
Once they’ve got the habit going, they know that stopping now will only break their momentum.
They focus on what they have to do for the day, and do it — motivated or not.
3. They Prefer Clear Goals
It isn’t enough for them to say that they’re simply going to “lose weight”. It’s too general.
Disciplined people have a deliberate use of language that helps them visualize exactly what they want to happen.
So instead of “I want to lose weight” they might instead say “By December of this year, I am going to weigh X kilograms.” or even “I will lose X pounds every month to reach my goal of Y by December 1st of this year.”
These are called S.M.A.R.T. goals. They are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.
Having a clear sense of what you want to achieve boosts your performance, as well.
A study by K. Blaine Lawler and Martin J. Hornyak from the University of Florida claimed that those that use the S.M.A.R.T. goals method are set to outperform those who don’t.
4. They Stay Focused
When you aren’t focused on one thing, you’ll be distracted by anything.
It’s easier to get distracted nowadays since we’re surrounded by content that calls for our attention.
The more distracted you become, however, the less progress that you’re going to make
Our ability to focus is a muscle.
Disciplined people strengthen it by being mindful of their actions and being present in the moment.
This enables disciplined people like athletes and artists to get into a state of flow.
It’s when time flies and their mind and body are moving almost like it’s doing it on their own — they enter their peak performance.
Distractions put them in danger of ruining their flow, which ruins their momentum.
Then the mind has to reset and slowly build up to it again, which takes too much energy.
That’s why disciplined people try to eliminate distractions as much as possible.
5. They’re Resourceful
There are going to be times when it rains when you planned to go on a jog or your neighbor’s dog won’t stop barking when you want to work in peace.
Other people might simply say that they’ll try again some other time and blame the external forces.
Disciplined people, however, take responsibility for their actions. If something stops them, they’ll find an alternative way to get around it. They use their environment to their advantage.
Raining outside? Maybe it’s time for an at-home, bodyweight workout.
Outside is getting too distracting? Maybe another spot in the house could do the trick.
They always find a way.
6. They Set Fake Deadlines
It’s difficult to bring yourself to attend to something that isn’t urgent. It’s much easier to put it off for the next day (or even the day after that).
But if your presentation gets moved to next week instead of next month, you’ll tap into a well of energy and motivation you didn’t know you even had.
Parkinson’s Law states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”
If you give yourself 3 hours to complete a task, more often than not, it will somehow take you 3 hours to complete the task.
What disciplined people do is that they leverage the power of setting a fake deadline for themselves in order to get them to do the work they know they need to do.
So even if they need to complete something by next month, they’ll have their own deadlines leading up to the actual deadline.
7. They Don’t Fight Temptations — They Eliminate It
That little red notification on your phone app threatens your productivity. It calls out for you and coaxes you to attend to it.
It’s a losing battle because app designers have to study how to persuade you to use their products more.
The best way to give yourself a fighting chance? Eliminating it. Removing the app completely. It can be drastic until you realize that you can always download it again.
You don’t always have to rely on your self-control to do or not do something.
Disciplined people build up their resilience to temptations by first removing it from their sight.
That way, it creates a space for them to focus on what they would rather do, which may be not checking their phones every few minutes.
8. They Like Getting The Hard Part Done Early
It’s ironic that the most important thing that we know we should be doing is the thing that we procrastinate on the most.
We know we should be working out but something somehow keeps stopping us.
That’s why it’s recommended that you start on it as early in the day as you can
There’s a reason why people work out in the morning — it’s so that it’s over and done with.
They want to experience the freedom of the day without a workout scheduled.
If they leave the workout later in the afternoon, there’s a higher chance that it could be left undone.
Disciplined people know that urgent work assignments and favors are always lurking, so they hit the gym while they still can.
9. They Avoid A Quick Fix
5 days into a new diet might make you start thinking that “Oh, one cookie isn’t going to hurt me”.
Then 1 turns to 2; before long, you’re back on your same old ways.
While you could still practice self-control after the third piece, disciplined people don’t want to risk it.
They have learned how to delay their gratification, which isn’t always easy.
It takes willpower and sacrifice; avoiding short-term highs in favor of long-term fulfillment.
Like any skill, delaying gratification takes time, practice, and patience. It’s a muscle that you strengthen with each “No” to an invitation to drink with your friends or when the waiter asks if you want dessert.
10. They’re Honest With Themselves
To understand a disciplined person’s commitment to their goals, you need to understand why they’re doing it in the first place. This takes self-honesty.
When it’s getting difficult to stick to a plan, being honest with oneself helps overcome these challenges.
Fancy cars and shiny new devices become less enticing when you revert back to your want to build a solid financial foundation for yourself and your family.
Discipline can only take you so far.
It’s that deep wanting for something that’s going to help you find the strength that you need to sacrifice short-term wants for long-term fulfillment.
11. They’re Action-Oriented
Disciplined people understand that the only way to achieve their goals and dreams is by acting on them.
No amount of thinking is going to get them to ace their final exams. Actions towards goals don’t have to be large. It can be as manageable as “Organize notes for one lecture”
Large projects broken down into small tasks become less daunting, and thus, more actionable.
When you tick off each small task, it can be like a small victory for you.
This helps motivate you to keep going and keep up your progress towards even your largest goals.
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