Become a `doer’ and any goal can be achieved: The Power of Discipline
July 6, 2023
We all make New Year’s Resolutions, writes Daniel Walter in The Power of Discipline.
But, he continues, “how many of them are ever accomplished… why is it that the majority of us are incapable of sticking to anything worthwhile? The answer is a simple one — a lack of self-discipline.”
This thought-provoking book then sets out ways you can develop and grow your own self-discipline. There’s a lot of ground covered here, so we’ll concentrate on some of the things we felt were key learnings.
Daniel says that establishing a bedtime routine — one that is free of distracting mobile devices and the like — will improve your sleep, allowing you to wake up early and energized, instead of tiredly slamming the “snooze” button.
Some of the characteristics of those who naturally have self-discipline — a skill the author asserts can be developed by anyone — include “delayed gratification,” or being able to be patient, have mental focus, and the ability to avoid “willpower fatigue” by protecting this important skill.
“The best way to build self-discipline is to remove yourself from temptation. For example, if you are struggling with your diet, replace your cupboard of unhealthy foods with healthy choices and meals,” he writes. Skip the sugary snack aisle at the grocery and head to the healthy food aisle, he adds. “By using these strategies, your willpower is only tested during the time you spend in the store, as opposed to trying to resist the temptation to eat your stash of cookies in the cupboard every evening over and over again,” Daniel explains.
Someone with self-discipline, he writes, can build better relationships simply by doing what they say they are going to do. “A person with self-discipline is going to live by their word; if you ask them to keep a secret, they will.” You’ll also stop taking criticism (even the constructive kind) as “an attack on (your) character” and will handle, and even value it, “because it pushes you to become better.”
Daniel says there are some factors to overcome in building one’s self-discipline. Humans, he writes, have a “status quo” bias that makes us “cling to what we are familiar with instead of reach for the unknown.” We worry about the costs of changes like moving to a nicer home or getting married, he continues. We fear regret — “no one wants to make a change and then regret it,” he writes. And just being exposed to things that are a certain way may make us think that “it may not be exactly what we want, but it will do.”
Daniel says we need to understand what we are good at, and what we are not good at — and for the latter, you must be “willing to accept constructive criticism.” This way, you won’t “live in ignorance about your deficiencies,” he explains.
You can build up those skills through taking courses, and also through associating “with people who are further ahead than you are in the speciality in which you wish to gain competence,” Daniel writes.
Daniel writes at length about the power of morning meditation, and encourages people to become readers (“readers are leaders”).
If you are feeling frozen by a “high-stress situation” consider “box breathing,” which is “taking a series of breaths for four seconds at a time — they breathe in, hold their breath, and then breathe out.” Navy SEALs in the US use this technique to slow down their heart rate to normal, when facing stress.
If you are a procrastinator, consider setting deadlines for yourself to put a little pressure on to finish a task. On the other hand, don’t be an overplanner either. “The key is to start working on your project and figure out the details as you go,” Daniel writes.
We liked the section on urges. Instead of thinking “I want a piece of cake,” think that you have an urge to eat cake, Daniel writes. “In this way, you are not fighting yourself, but the sensation you are feeling,” and you may be able to outwait the urge in 20-30 minutes.
There is a lot more great stuff in this well written tome, and if you are having trouble getting going on some sort of personal project, whether it’s losing weight, saving up to buy a home, or looking to get ahead at work, this book is well worth looking at.
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