Hello, everybody! You are listening to the 9th episode of Sensibly Happy podcast. This episode is about secret ingredient of how to make your life more successful.
You probably asked yourself: “what makes one person more successful than another?” And this is really valid question. Because, if it’s something which we can control, we can use it in our daily life and be more successful as well. I’m convinced that there are some reusable ingredients of success. This episode is about two of them: motivation and self-discipline. And I will share with you some practical aspects as well as examples which would help you to apply that approach to your life.
How self-discipline is related to happiness?
And as always, relevant question – how that topic is related to happiness? I believe that our happiness is tightly tied with our goals as well as with our progress in achieving them. And when you have some goals in your life but you are constantly failing – you become less self-confident as well as less happy. Also in case of failure you don’t get full reward for your effort. Want to be rewarded? Then continue listening.
We all know that you should motivate yourself to accomplish something. We know about motivation speeches, phrases that we are scrolling through our social media feed and it looks so very obvious and convincing that we might be mislead while thinking that this is enough – to be motivated. We set some goal, get extra motivation by speaking with someone and start doing it. But at some point our motivation is being scattered and we are losing ourselves in the middle of the road. Then we start blaming ourselves or searching for excuses. But none of it helps us to finish what we’ve started.
Is self-discipline not for you?
But we also know about something which is called self-discipline. Some of you already use it it while others reject it not to be too pushy to ourselves. Because it looks like self-discipline is more for military or control-freaks which we’ve discussed in E008. What is your opinion? Is it motivation which leads to success or self-discipline? I asked the same question to the candidates on my interviews. And I see that in most of cases people answer that the motivation is the major factor while self-discipline is also needed but not as important as motivation. And the answer gives me an understanding of how mature candidate is terms of constant productivity. Because for me, if person is self-disciplined and realizes that, then that person can work hard and long, and I can be sure that the person will be self-driving. So only minor supervision is needed. But when person says that the main thing is motivation, I understand that I should spend more time, speaking with that person periodically. Because I should constantly track person’s ups and downs and find additional motivation. To sum up, I believe that self-discipline is a constant daily behavioral pattern while motivation is something like the weather: today it is good, but tomorrow it is rainy and we don’t have proper results.
Stephen Covey once said: “The undisciplined are slaves to moods, appetites and passions”. And what is discipline? According to one of definitions, self-discipline is the ability to control one’s feelings and overcome one’s weaknesses. It is the ability to pursue what one thinks is right, despite temptations to abandon it.
Self-discipline is constant productivity
Very powerful outcome after applying self-discipline is that we can be consistent and methodical. And that brings real results. You can see huge amount of examples how consistency helps people to become someone special. Daily exercises, challenges, proper constant nutrition, being focused all the time and so on. Again, to be more consistent and methodical we should be self-disciplined. And motivation doesn’t help us a lot in that case.
But do I have enough evidence to tell about the discipline as about a special ingredient of success. Let’s check out how it is applicable in different spheres.
Self-discipline in business
Doesn’t matter if you sell something or provide services, you should have great communication level, regardless to your current mood, or your opinion about a customer. Also, to compete successfully you should do everything in timely manner. You shouldn’t be late on meetings, you need to write answers by email or make some phone calls without delays, you should make decisions quickly to help your employes. And in all those cases there is no time to find some extra motivation. And you can’t do all those tasks without being self-disciplined. To run your business successfully is about self-discipline. Your self-discipline, as well as your employees.
Self-discipline in personal life
And what about the discipline in our personal life? When you meet someone and start building a relationships both of you should make some changes in your habits to be more suitable for each other. For some of you it could be using less perfumes, or taking a shower every day, or not to leave leftover food on the table or not to use some words that you constantly use. And that’s all about self-discipline as well.
Self-discipline in art world
And now most controversial sphere. The world of artists. Many of us are thinking about artists who create something solely on motivation. That they constantly look for new ideas or use alcohol or drugs to create something unique. But is it true? Is motivation a key to success for artists? I know several painters and musicians which claim that self-discipline is determinative factor of their success.
Rules of self-discipline for others
There is one interesting article which is called ‘12 Habits of Highly Effective Artists’ which is published on artnet.com. I’ve selected several habits from it that connected to the discipline.
The first habit is to live in airplane mode. Do you understand what does it mean? That no one can call you and no social media during the work. And this is about creating proper environment, be more productive.
Second habit is to do all your admin work in the morning. That means to make calls or write emails in the morning, even to people which you don’t like so you cannot postpone that. Also you can do different activities related to your social media accounts especially if it is related to your promotion, and after finishing all the admin work you can be focus specifically on your creation.
And the third habit is to be self-reliant and consistent. I should quote here. “Art-making is often a solitary activity, requiring enough self-discipline to structure one’s own time. “I work eight hours a day consistently—and if I don’t manage it during the day, I make up for it in the evening,” says Liza Lou. “It’s a lot like being an athlete: you train under all conditions. Just get in the studio no matter what you feel like.”
Here’s another interesting example from the painter and teacher who spend most of her life exploring colors and writing books about it. Her name is Nita Leland. And the example is about her rules which called “Self-discipline for artists”. Here are some of them:
- Just do it. No one will do it for you.
- Set goals. You have to know where you are going so you will know when you will get there.
- Establish priorities. Place yourself high on the list. You are important too.
- Use time productively. Procrastination gets you nowhere.
What photographers do
And the last example of discipline for artists is comparison of expectations of what photographer does and what photographer really does, or how the time is being distributed. And there is a picture of two pie charts “Expectation VS Reality”. I will add it to show notes E009.
At the first pie chart people think that most of time photographer takes photos then traveling to exotic locations or partying like rock-stars. But in reality there are such interesting segments like editing photos, book-keeping, meetings and communication with customers. So taking pictures takes around 12 percents of all the time. I was making money as a photographer for several years and I can say that it is more or less accurate time spending distribution. After all those examples you can’t treat motivation as a main factor of success anymore, and you shouldn’t chase after it all the time.
My own experience
I have my own examples how I’m using self-discipline in my life. The toughest one to a lot of people is to get off the bed. I’m getting up usually at 6 a.m. and my body get used to it. But sometimes I’m really exhausted, I had a bad sleep or went to bed too late. In such cases my body does everything to persuade me to stay in bed and I can feel myself in a way: “oh, it’s so hard to get up, I should sleep a little bit more”. And similar arguments visit my brain. But self-discipline allows me to do what I need to do. It turns on in my mind with words “stop thinking! stop spare yourself! get up and do what you should!” And of course after years of practice it works for me really well.
The same situation with morning exercises. I don’t like to do workouts because it takes my time. And before doing it in the morning, different thoughts come to my mind, like: “I have no time today, maybe tomorrow.” or “Yesterday was really tough day, so I should probably skip my workout today”. And again self-discipline works for me. “You have a goal, you have sequence of steps to do, and you know how to do it, so please focus and do this.”
Another example of self-discipline is when I become angry on someone. Especially someone from my family. In such cases only self-discipline stopping me from telling stupid words and put all my negative emotions to a person who sometimes even innocent. And with self-discipline I switch to the algorithm of analysis: why I am angry, what results I want to have from the conversation and do I have enough evidence that the person I want to speak with is guilty. And only after thinking about all those things I make a decision about behavior in current situation.
Comparison of discipline and motivation
Of course there are other examples of self-discipline, but let’s return to comparison of discipline and motivation. In what cases motivation is really important? How can we use it? I use motivation in 3 different aspects.
- The first one is to set up any goal. Before spending some efforts I want to be sure that it would be useful. I want to understand why should I spent those efforts. For that purpose I collect a lot of different information, read or listen to the inspirational stories, I check if it is real to reach the goal and having all that I understand that this is good goal and I can start aiming it.
- Second type of situations is when I want to make sure that I’m moving on a right direction. For me it is some kind of checking a compass. I’m moving in proper direction, having a good progress so I should keep moving.
- And the third reason why I’m using motivation is when I’m physically or mentally exhausted because of spending efforts daily. In that case I need to speak with someone or to watch some motivational videos or to see someone else report how he or she reached the same goals. That’s it. I can’t recall right now any other reasons for me to use motivation.
Where self-discipline is applicable? You can use it to keep your body in good shape, and also to eat properly. You can use discipline to communicate properly with others, to detect procrastination or to put your thoughts into the right direction. You can use self-discipline to control your emotions or to be focused on a single goal and not to jump from one goal to another.
Yeah, you can be really strong with that. And you can be successful. Successful in different meanings. It’s not about money or status, but about being someone special, bold, or happy. You can run the rat race or you can optimize your efforts and do what you really want to do. But you know what is good about self-discipline? It is similar to muscle. And by having daily exercises you can make it stronger.