What is the Secret to Self Discipline?

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5:47am: My alarm rages, I rise without looking, my fingerprint dulling the noise as I reluctantly expose myself to the frigid conditions between the serenity of my warm bed and the shower. Steam and the harsh sound of water relentless assaulting the shower tray immediately fills the air acting as the soundtrack to my rebirth for the day ahead.

5:48am: I enjoy those two minutes sleepily, my eyes still shut and oblivious of the new days joys, blissfully unaware of what is about to come. Cold; it unmercifully attacks me from above. I’ve subconsciously altered the pleasant temperature, from which I was being gently washed out of slumber, to an icy chill. The change enlivens my senses and exposes me visually to my surroundings. I breathe heavily endowing me with the energy I will need for the day. I am awake and ready.

5:51am: Religious in my routine I wear an alternative of the same thing every day. It removes the necessary burden of expending energy on a process that forces you to think. I’ve optimised through simplification, where I don’t have to think I don’t, I make the decision once and accept it. Wearing the same thing is a simplistic evolution of a prevailing idea; we only have the ability to make a finite number of right decisions in a day. Don’t waste creative energy agonising over which clothes to wear, what matches and what looks good. Pick an outfit you like and wear it every day, it eradicates distractions and saves time. Time is crucial.

5:53am: Keys, wallet, breakfast, gone. No TV, no checking of smartphone, no time to wait. The day won’t wait for you so never let the seconds slip away; they have a funny way of turning into minutes which have an even funnier way of evolving into hours. Every second counts but only if you make it. You must be vigilant and understand that everything you do means you can’t do something else.

5:54am: Drive and listen, don’t think. Let the sounds inspire and appreciate what you have. Understand your achievements from yesterday and visualise what must be accomplished today. Travel is a drain on your time: 40 minutes a day x 5 days a week x 48 weeks a year x 45 years. Say Goodbye 300 days of your life, that’s the reality, exploit the opportunity to learn. Podcasts, audio books or interviews. You’re captive to this vehicle for nearly a year of your life, you should at least make it worthwhile. It’s too early to talk; it’s never too early to develop yourself.

6:10am: Buckle in for the ride, 10 ideas on any topic, go. Never waste the time when your mind is at its sharpest and most creative. Utilise the opportunity to create value when you won’t be distracted by those still in bed. Let your mind race between unrealistic options, fantasy and ridiculum and record everything, never restrain or dilute anything as it’s far easier to rain in thoughts that make them more radical.

6:30am: Read a little every day. It doesn’t matter what it is, it only matters that it expands your horizons. Don’t just focus on confirmation of your existing biases either, exploit the opportunity to challenge your cognitive dissonance. Nothing is as destructive as mindlessly confirmation of beliefs that might be wrong. Dissenting and juxtaposed viewpoints to your own can either embolden your stance or enable you to alter it before you misstep.

7:00am: Write and explore, share and invite others into the things that fascinate you, obsess about your obsessions and unashamedly invite critique and feedback. Irrespective of whether it is consumed by others writing endows you with the ability to convey your ideas and thoughts succinctly which is essential in the modern world. To grow we have to be understood. It’s about editing your ideas and recording your own development. If you do it correctly it can act as a transformational journal of the genesis of your greatest ideas and successes while giving you something to reflect on when you don’t.

7:30am: Emails, do it once and don’t do it again, clear them. When something needs a response respond, if it can be done in a call do that instead. Never send emails for emails sake it only leads to more emails. Once you’ve dealt with them for the day close outlook, it’s an unnecessary distraction for the thought consuming tasks that will follow. People worry about what they’ll miss something, here’s a thought: you wouldn’t email the fire service if your house was on fire.

8:00am: List everything that you must accomplish for the day and dutifully begin working through it, swallow the frog immediately, do the things that enable you to progress the most not the things that take longest. We get confused between the things that matter and what consumes the most energy. Create a plan for the hours which you have in the day and stick to it. People are too willing to change their routine because something comes up, granted emergencies will arise from time to time but not everything is one. Your calendar is your solace, it affords you time and freedom.

1:00pm: Look after yourself. Healthy body enables a healthy mind. I run and leave my mind unchecked. I permit it to dispose of everything that has consumed it in the morning. I escape the stress for a time which enables me to maintain my sanity. Fresh air and sunlight are an elixir of life, they reinvigorate and aid your recovery by ensuring your health. It prepares you for the afternoon and ensures you avoid the inevitable drop in motivation others feel. By raising your heartrate you heighten your motivation. The world seems brighter and the day seems better. Happiness is the key to prosperity and achievement.

2:00pm: Upskill, learn something new. You need to continue to take responsibility for your own learning and actively pursue means to improve. The internet has enabled this generation to an extent unimaginable by any other generation, exploit it. You can undertake a course at Harvard or learn how to code or learn Spanish. The skills you acquire will let you find new opportunities in the things you are already doing. Nothing brings value to existing endeavours like fresh perspective, new ideas and education. It’s about enabling yourself fresh perspective on the things you see everyday. The true voyage of discovery is not in seeing new landscapes but in having new eyes.

3:00pm: Continue working through tasks or utilise time for meetings. Meetings are best when the creative energy from the beginning of the day has faded.

5:00pm: Just think. Give yourself a moment and explore the things that have germinated in your mind, don’t ignore them. It might be nothing but thinking gives it the light. Let your ideas grow, but they can’t unless you nourish them. People miss this last point; this is the most important part of the day. When was the last time you just thought? Most people don’t realise their lack of thinking. We react and think it’s productive. If we don’t think, we can never know. We have been conditioned to believe that inspiration and ideas are instantaneous, they are thrust upon us in a moment of clarity. The contrarian truth is that those who create value and contribute significant ideas spend a lot of time thinking. Find the time and ignore all distractions turn off and escape. Only when our focus is singular can we draw together unrelated concepts or invent new ideas. Our potential is only constrained by a lack of imagination, but we must first dream to achieve. Without dreaming we can never imagine fresh opportunities or conceptualise new ones.

6:00pm: Drive and record your thoughts, this can be dictated audibly. Record the things that you achieved but crucially note the things that you didn’t, these will form the basis of what will be your task for completion tomorrow. Reflect on your overriding goals regularly, this enables transparency and you to hold yourself to account. If you are making progress record it, if you are not explain why. If you haven’t for a week make a change. You need to be proactive.

6:25pm: Relax, forget about everything else. To recover you need to be ignorant of the things fighting for your attention, they’ll still be there tomorrow. Love yourself a little and the people around you. I read with my kids, I pick them up and spin them round, I talk to my wife and ask how her day went, I interview my daughter about her day at nursery. I’m the best version of me in the moments I’m with the people who enrich my being alive and experience of life.

There is no exciting, fascinating or transformational secret to self-discipline, there is only one truth: cultivation of tedious, mind-numbing habit. I don’t believe anyone is naturally self-disciplined; we must nurture the mind-set and conditions for us to conform to the things that need to be done.

Self-discipline is the act of doing the things that need to be done in a world that finds new and exciting ways to distract us. You could live fleetingly and expend your life behind the dark allure of a smartphone, consuming information about how school friends are living on social networks or your can do something yourself and create value.

Life is about choices, we can achieve the things we dream of or we can watch other people do it in theirs. There is no middle ground.

Self-discipline gives us a chance to focus on the things we have identified as mattering.

So ignore the noise and be the best version of you, you’ll never regret it.

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Written by

CEO / Founder / Coach @FirstbaseHQ Empowering people to work in their lives not live at work ✌️✌

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