How do you build a successful life and business? Good fortune helps tremendously, but it is possible to if not actually create your own good luck, then create the drive needed to build the best life possible. Business coach and strategy consultant Dan Kennedy advises that we develop self-discipline. To help our understanding of the concept, he breaks self-discipline into four parts:
Will power is the core of self-discipline. It's like a muscle and if we want to develop that muscle and use it to build up self-discipline, then practice is required. As with running or weight lifting, start small and gradually build to more challenging work. Making yourself vacuum and do laundry could be a good place to start, if those tasks bring out avoidance behavior in you. Speaking of exercise, scheduling and completing a certain number of weekly workouts is another way to simultaneously build our will power and physical muscles. Set up a rewards program when important milestones are achieved. Massages and facials are nice relaxing gifts to yourself.
Value and respect time and boundaries, your own and that of others. Cease immediately selfish and controlling behavior. Appreciate that everyone has responsibilities that very likely must be completed within a certain time frame. Calculate in realistic terms how long it will take you to travel from point A to point B, for example, and give yourself the appropriate time to reach your destination at the appointed hour. The pay-off to your reputation will be significant.
Kennedy notes that all achievement is fueled by decision-making. If we acknowledge our priorities and then decide to make those priorities a reality, then we will do what is necessary to ensure their creation and sustainability. Self-discipline is integral to decision-making. Refusing to exercise self-discipline has deleterious consequences.
Should we decide to not decide, we table decision-making indefinitely and never become a responsible and productive adult. If we are paralyzed by the process of decision-making, we become trapped in a vortex and squander all opportunities to utilize or attract good fortune. Such an individual becomes a wastrel. Decision-making is goal setting and all self-disciplined individuals identify and pursue goals.
Kennedy points to three kinds of action, which I interpret as an arc: planning, implementation and completion. Once the decision is made, a plan is then created, to give yourself a road map and timetable to bring your goal into reality. In business, one would think strategy and action planning. Next, implement your plan and see it through to completion, making any necessary adjustments along the way.
This is the point at which self-discipline becomes essential. As we all know, many initiatives are begun with great enthusiasm, but not all are completed. Give your self-discipline a fighting chance and set SMART goals for yourself: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely and then create a strategy and action plans that make achievement of your goals a likely possibility. If you anticipate obstacles, build into your strategy a way to overcome them.
Self-discipline is the foundation of a successful life and it brings many rewards, not the least of which is integrity and authenticity. I would consider those attributes to be the most desirable personal brand.