So in my last post I shared with you the three key areas of self discipline that successful companies have: disciplined people, thoughts, and actions.   To me that made perfect sense but in some conversations I had yesterday around the topic of self discipline and reading some of the comments that were made on my post last night carried a common undertone: Self discipline is hard.

I bet that 9 times out of 10 we know what we need to do in order to be healthier, wealthier, more successful, etc…but getting ourselves to do what we know we need to do is easier said than done, in most situations we encounter.

We can make it hard work if we believe it to be, but I’m learning every day, that doesn’t have to be!

May I challenge your belief on self discipline for a minute?

Do you struggle to be disciplined with things you totally look forward to doing?  Probably not.  How hard do you have to work at developing bad habits?  My guess is not very hard.

I know there are areas in my own life where I’m making self discipline much harder than it really needs to be, but there are also areas in my life where it flows effortlessly.  I didn’t realize why until recently.

So why is it that we think self discipline is difficult?  Let’s make it fun and easy.

My three step process to developing good self discipline is:

  1. Developing good habits that create discipline
  2. Making self discipline a game
  3. Creating systems and routines to make discipline easier

Step One: Developing Good Habits that Create Discipline

When we think of habits, we often think of bad habits, but habits are just behaviors that we do automatically without a ton of thought-energy having to drive them.  Some habits make self-discipline automatic, other habits make it practically impossible. For instance, we don’t have to be disciplined to brush our teeth, but if flossing isn’t part of that habit we may struggle to have the self discipline to floss daily.

So when it comes to my business I started this summer to pick a habit that I want to focus on for the month and I spend the month figuring out how to develop a system for that.  I’ll talk more about creating systems in a minute…

But for the sake of sharing an example, you may choose to pick developing a habit this month of following up with your past clients, preferred clients, and contacts.   Your focus is creating a behavior of habitually connecting with others make sure their needs are met, they feel spoiled silly with attention, assistance, and appreciation.

Step Two: Making Self Discipline a Game

Alright…this is fun for me and I hope it will be for you.  Again, I’m not an expert and I’ve not mastered this by any means, but I’m moving forward and I believe it will bring you value.

I learned this from Tellman Knudson in a personal development program of his I purchased called Hyper Focus One.  I need to find ways to play games with myself to get the “have to do” stuff accomplished.  I can spend hours and hours on the want to do stuff, but I struggle with procrastinating the have to do’s.

So, the object is to simply turn the have to do’s into want to do’s.  This can be a mindset shift or physically making a task more enjoyable to do.    Isn’t cleaning to some upbeat fun music so much easier than cleaning a silent house?  Isn’t exercising with a friend so much more fun than exercising alone?  Use music, play games, reward yourself, have an accountability buddy, anything you can think of to help you have fun doing what you have to do.

How about playing a game of beat the clock? Since re-establishing routines in my life as a mompreneur, I’ve been using my timer more frequently and it’s psychologically turned my “work” into a game.

Let’s go back to the habit of follow-up: How many people can you connect with in a 15 minute period of time?  People love to talk with someone who is upbeat and excited! And as busy as everyone is, saying, “I only have a minute, but I wanted to call you and say “Hi!” and to make sure you received your products and you are enjoying them,” is a relief to the person you’re calling.  They’re busy too, and don’t want to be put on the spot.  But with a 2 minute phone call you’ve reconnected and reminded them you’re available if they need anything.

Step Three: Creating Systems and Routines to Make Learning Self Discipline Skills Automatic

So I’m sure you’ve created systems in many areas of your life already.

My husband has his “getting out the door” routine down to a science.  I laugh because I can look at the clock and know that at 5:50 he’s heading downstairs, barefoot with a pair of socks tucked slightly into his pocket, a cell phone in his hand on his way to the kitchen for coffee.  He doesn’t have to work hard to remember all these steps.  He created a habit and turned it into a system so he doesn’t have to remember all the details.

Do you have a client-intake-follow-up system? Where you always gather the right information when you get a new client so you can plug the information into your auto-responder, your send out cards service, your outlook reminders, and your calendar so you remember to follow up in the future with every client you have?  Without a system, I would always be struggling to reconnect to get information from them that I had forgotten to get while I was on the phone with them.

I’m in the process of turning my “client intake system” into an integration marketing system so I can follow up after a certain number of days/weeks with a phone call, then a post card, then an email newsletter, sample, etc.

Maybe your system would involve connecting with their spouse to see how you can help with holiday gift giving?  Maybe it means that you send them a holiday gift as a thank you for allowing you to serve them this past year?  Brainstorm and figure out how you can set up a system and develop a habit that can benefit your business in years to come.

Recommended resources to help you develop your self discipline strategies and routines:

  • Set up a free Simpleology account and use their software to help you stay on track with your goals, stay focused, and disciplined in your business.
  • Read the The Slight Edge: Secret to a Successful Life* by Jeff Olson.
  • Check out the FlyLady if you struggle with self discipline when it comes to taking care of your house.
  • Join a tribe if you want to develop better self discipline in your blogging and online marketing.  It’s like having several pacing partners you are working to keep up with. :)
  • And be sure to connect with your network marketing team for accountability, encouragement, and support.

So I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on this!  What do you love to do and what do you have to do?  How can you turn your have-to into a want-to? Please share them in the comments below.  You’re on a dofollow blog and will get some link-love from me when you do.

When you focus a whole month, practicing self discipline in one area on a daily basis, you will develop the habit and it will become almost automatic in the future.