What is the real 'secret to success'?
You don’t have to look far these days to find someone promising to teach you the ‘secret to success’ – a Google search for the term brings up 127 million results. It’s nice to think there might be a quick fix, or that there’s one simple solution you simply need to discover. But sadly for so many people, success remains elusive. If you’re still searching for that one secret pathway to achieving your goals, I can tell you the one thing that really will make all the difference – but it’s not going to be quick and it’s definitely not going to be easy!
In every book on wealth and success that I’ve ever read, and at every personal development event I’ve ever been to, the number one thing I’ve heard time and time again from successful people is that practising self-discipline is the key ingredient to success.
Let’s get real here for a second: creating success is hard work. Many of us already know what we need to do to become successful; successful people are just those who have the discipline to stay focused on achieving their goals. They’re the people who get on with doing the things they need to do, even when it’s the last thing they actually want to do. Without that, so many people fail to follow through and don’t get the results they want. As Jim Rohn says, “what’s simple to do is also simple not to do” – and this is where so many people fall down. All unsuccessful men and women, no matter how talented or how good their ideas are, are undisciplined and unable to control their behaviours and appetites.
So what’s the real secret to success? If you are persistent, you will get it. If you are consistent, you will keep it. You need self-discipline to do both.
What does that mean in practice? Put simply, self-discipline is doing what you say you will do. One of its main characteristics is the ability to reject instant gratification in favour of some greater gain, which requires spending a bit more time and effort to achieve. If you only ever do what you feel like doing in the moment, you’ll never get round to tackling those big tasks standing between you and your dreams. Start by establishing what you need to be doing, then do it well, and begin incorporating it into your regular habits. Consistency is a critical component of success, and putting in the hard graft on these tasks can’t simply be a one-off effort.
It takes a lot of hard work to practice self-discipline and keep yourself on track, but trust me: you will see results. Self-discipline will give you the strength to overcome any obstacles, setbacks and challenges that you may face. Self-discipline comes in many forms: perseverance – the ability not to give up despite failure and setbacks; self-control – the ability to resist distractions or temptations; and persistence – trying over and over again until you accomplish what you set out to do. It will be your self-discipline that keeps you going when the going gets tough, and the outcome of practising self-discipline is that you will achieve greater success in all areas of your life.
Once you wake up, smell the coffee, and learn to focus on tackling the tricky stuff, you will start to accomplish your goals and give yourself the confidence boost you need to stick with it. Sounds great, right – but how do you even get started? The good news is you can start really small by practising self-control in your day-to-day life. That might mean waking up at a set time each day, and having the self-discipline not to hit ‘snooze’ on the mornings when you don’t feel like getting out of bed. It might be creating bite size to-do lists of three main daily tasks, completing those three tasks each day, and gradually increasing the number of tasks. Or you could create a list of what you want to accomplish, break each goal down into manageable sized tasks, and commit to completing them one day a time.
Whatever you choose to start with, here are my top tips for building your self-discipline:
- Behave and act in ways that reflect your values and allow you to achieve your goals.
- Be consciously aware of yourself, your behaviours and actions, so that you’re able to check and correct anything that doesn’t fit your values.
- Commit to the discipline you are practising. If you need to wake up at 5am and you’re struggling with the early start, instead commit to waking up a little earlier than usual each day, until eventually you are awake at 5am every morning. Always be better than the person you were yesterday.
- Have the courage to push through the pain. At times you will be pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, which can be painful – but that’s how we learn, grow and improve. Push through and you will notice the results once the discipline becomes a habit. No pain no gain, as they say!
- Use positive affirmations and self-talk to remind you why you are practising the discipline, and to encourage yourself along the way.
Thank you for reading.
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