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Estimated Lesson Time: 5 minutes

In the late ’90s, the Internet boom made millionaires out of many investors virtually overnight. These “success stories” were in the news and magazines almost daily. People love to hear stories of overnight success and, as a result, the media loves to seek out and publish such stories. The idea of living the American dream without having to work or wait for it is universally appealing. However, this skewed perception of what success really is promotes the “instant gratification” desire, which is one of the leading reasons people fail. True success, the kind that is achieved through personal development, is based on self-discipline.

Discipline is training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior, especially training that produces moral or mental improvement. As young children, we are introduced to discipline through our parents. Later, our teachers and religious leaders contribute to our discipline. Along the way, other people such as grandparents, babysitters, and/or older siblings may join in. By the time we are of age, we are all “disciplined out” and cannot wait to be on our own; free to do as we wish. What nobody ever tells us, as youths transitioning into adulthood, is the discipline cannot stop—it must be transformed into self-discipline if we are to succeed in life.

Self-discipline is the ability to adhere to actions, thoughts, and behaviors that result in personal improvement instead of instant gratification. As an adult, there is only one person who is with you 24 hours a day. This person is the only one who can choose a life of success over a life of mediocrity. This person is the only one who can write your goals and see to it that you take daily actions toward their achievement. This person is the only one who will be there for you to see that you break your destructive habits. This person is you.

One of the key elements of success, persistence, is only made possible through self-discipline. Whether your goals include becoming the next billionaire, losing weight, quitting smoking, or being the best parent you can be, self-discipline is needed to get you there.

Here are some suggestions on how you can become more self-disciplined.

  • Master your time. Spend your time on actions that bring you closer to your goals, not further from them.
  • Focus on true desires. Once you put your goals on the back burner, they are as good as forgotten. If your desire for instant gratification takes over, bring out your goals and review them. If you often sway from your goals, keep your written goals where you can see them on a daily basis. If you still find yourself giving in to the desire for instant gratification, change your goals and make the desire to achieve them more powerful than the desire for instant gratification.
  • Link pain and pleasure. In your mind, associate pain with acting on your every desire and associate extreme pleasure with reaching your goals. The key is to visualize, or vividly imagine, yourself reaching your goals through self-discipline, and visualize the negative consequences of acting on your desires for immediate gratification.
  • Build your self-esteem. Without self-esteem, there is no reason you would care enough to be self-disciplined. Having the “we’re all going to die anyway” attitude is not conducive to self-discipline.
  • Sacrifice short-term pleasure for long-term happiness. Know the difference between pleasure and happiness. One can have a miserable life full of pleasures, in fact, many people do. Self-discipline keeps you working toward your goals, which to many, is the way to true happiness.
  • Beware of excuses, rationalization, and justifications. Do not allow a miniature you dressed in a devil costume to pop up on one side of your head and sell you on instant gratification. It is amazing how desires can alter coherent thinking. Be aware of this when it is happening and allow your self-discipline to keep you from making poor choices.
  • Think about both the short and long-term consequences of actions. If your goal is to lose 10 pounds (as in weight, not English currency), then before you eat the chocolate cake in front of you, think about the guilt that you will experience after eating the cake, your lack of self-discipline, and your long-term reasons for wanting to lose the weight in the first place.

What if you do not have the self-discipline to work on building your self-discipline? (Ahh, what irony...) If you have made it this far in the course, chances are you do. However, if you still doubt your own abilities or perhaps would just like some reinforcement, consider the martial arts. Besides self-discipline, martial arts training can help with confidence, fitness, coordination, and more.

Self-discipline is not an easy characteristic to practice. It is, however, an invaluable characteristic to have if achievement and success are important to you. True success comes as a result of self-discipline. Remember, when it comes to success, there are no shortcuts.

Take Your Year To Success To the Next Level

If you like what you are reading, please consider these options in addition to this course. They include a hardcopy of the book and an intensive course with action steps, assignments, and personal coaching from Bo.

  • Buy the Book. Year To Success - Available in hardcover, signed by the author. Also available in ebook, paperback, and audio from Amazon.com.
  • Enroll in Bo's Life Mastery Online CourseThis is a course that covers hundreds of life-enhancing topics that they never taught in school, but should. This is more than a course on self-improvement; it is a course on mastering life.

 Some discussion questions (some may not apply to this lesson):

  • Have you implemented this idea in your life? How has it been working for you?
  • Do you have any interesting stories related to this lesson? Do tell!
  • What do you admire most about this person? (success biography days)
    From the Course:
    Personal Development
    Year To Success
    Bo Bennett, PhD

    (20 ratings)
    Personal Development : Personal Transformation
    Offered by VirversitY
    $19.95 $ 9.95

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    #45: How Success Works
    #170: Mastermind Alliance
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