How to Develop Discipline and Unlock Your Hidden Potential

How to Develop Discipline and Unlock Your Hidden Potential

I have been struggling lately with staying motivated.  I have lulls like this in life where my attention to detail wanes a bit and my excitement for my current endeavor subsides.  In the past I’ve used these moments to build up my list of excuses and rationalize my quitting.  But as I am getting older I am realizing the difference in motivation and discipline.

Motivation is the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.  In the past I was always looking for something to motivate me, like an emotional shove in the right direction: Pumped up music, inspirational talks, stories of success, etc.  But once the external hype was removed I had nothing to fall back on.  So I stopped and moved on to something else.  And continually failing to finish things that I started became a burden I carried around for years.  It was so heavy, mostly constructed of self-pity, doubt, anger, fear and aggravation.

What I would learn from that period in my life was that I was misusing motivational tactics in place of discipline.  I lacked discipline and did not realize it, thus when the emotional high from the inspirational story wore off a couple weeks later, I had no clue how to continue.  Now I think I am figuring out how to overcome these lulls using discipline to carry me through.  Discipline is simply training yourself to do a certain task(s) in accordance with a set of rules.  And discipline is what carries successful people to victory!  Discipline makes you workout when you don’t feel like it.  Discipline is what makes you order healthy food when you really want the burger.  Discipline is why you walk door-to-door in the rain to make sales quotas.  Not because you “feel” like it, but because you have trained yourself to do what is necessary regardless of your mood or level of enthusiasm.

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If you are the type of person like I was, getting jazzed up watching the workout infomercial, ordering it and then losing interest after a couple weeks then maybe you need to look deeper at developing discipline.  Here’s How to Develop Discipline and Unlock Your Hidden Potential:

  1. Make the bed every morning
  2. Log your food and caloric intake before each meal
  3. Focus on not allowing yourself to procrastinate
  4. Make a to-do list for each day to keep you organized
  5. Work to keep the dishes from piling up in the sink/keep the house neat and tidy
  6. Work to keep your word/do what you say you will do
  7. Find productive things to do versus sitting in front of the television
  8. Work to be a better spouse/focus on your family/help out around the house more
  9. Ask yourself daily if you are doing the best that you can do
  10. Write

And in my opinion the most important one for me has been #1: making the bed.  I have found making the bed is my catalyst for a productive day and it starts the day off with organization and structure.  Some might find bed making a bit trivial, but I find keeping my life structured and disciplined is helping me stay focused while I practice my habits that will lead to more success.

And when you find yourself lacking the motivation to be productive, your discipline will take over and carry you!!  Just a thought for us all to ponder.

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73 thoughts on “How to Develop Discipline and Unlock Your Hidden Potential

  1. Thank you for this. I struggle with discipline. Writing a “To DO” list daily truly helps me. This morning I did not feel like completing my blog post. I have someone review it on Wednesday and it goes live on Thursday. I got right out of bed and did it. I knew if I did not the cares of the day would take me away and it would remain undone. The verse the Lord gave me for my procrastination and lack of discipline “Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means” 2 Corinthians 8:11 Those are my marching orders from God. Today is March 4th after all.

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    1. Coach, I have recently incorporated a new habit of pushups in the morning. I piggy backed it with making the bed. Immediately after making the bed I go and do 3 sets of pushups and then to the shower. The routine of it fits perfectly for me. I am a fan of piggy backing.
      Danny

  3. Love this post. Agree with you entirely, making ones bed every morning is important in starting the day out right. Always do the things I’d rather not first thing, then the rest of the day is all mine.

    1. Discipline was not easy at first, but I just kept making myself do even when I didn’t. It is a decision really, above all else. I decided I wanted to succeed.
      Danny

  4. Interesting, ‘cos out of force of habit, I make my bed first thing in the morning. It kind of puts my mind in the prepared mode, but I am struggling with discipline with curbing eating sugary things :/

    1. I was just saying to someone that it is not easy. I have used fruit as a substitute for sugary stuff. I try to focus on what I want to do, instead of focusing on what i don’t want to do.
      Danny

  5. Focus on not allowing yourself to procrastinate. I at times allow myself luxury of procrastinating which I repent later. Reading this post made me sit up and complete an important task which was important and I was delaying.
    Thank you for sharing such positive thoughts. Keep sharing.

  6. Such a spot on post. Developing discipline to stick to it …whatever it is at the time…. is just essential. This post will be of such value to many.

    I also have found that there are times in my life when I step back from the goal setting, discipline, task focused, and withdraw awhile to be more contemplative and quiet. An excellent strengthening and deepening of strength and vitality can take place during these ‘lulls’ in a well disciplined and active life.

    1. I agree. I am just learning this lesson. Just as will power can get fatigues so can the mind from focusing too much. I am realizing that these moments in life should be appreciated and used like you have said, to step away and gain perspective.

  7. I missed this one! This is a post I need to read over a few times and let it REALLY sink in. Discipline is hard when you aren’t sure how you will feel one minute to the next – but then again, I think it is more important to have it in those situations! Thanks for another good one, Danny.
    Lydia!

    1. Discipline kicked in for me today. I didn’t feel like doing my exercises but made myself do them anyway because that is what i am trained to do. But it took me a long time to develop discipline i must admit.
      DRay

  8. I suffered from this for years in depression and got lots of life management tips from a source called FlyLady (the principles would work for men too).

    http://flylady.net

    She also starts you off with one discipline, “shining the sink”. Though I never did really get that one, I picked up many others which have been very helpful in getting me out of that slump (I signed up for daily email reminders to do tasks. That helped me get established in some areas) and yes, I do make my bed every day, though it sometimes takes me longer than I would like.

    You are right. It is all about learning discipline 🙂

  9. A book called “Messie’s Manual” is another discipline tool I used. It helps perfectionists tackle things one step at a time, instead of getting overwhelmed by the mountain of stuff that needs to be done perfectly and so doing nothing at all, because you can never do it all!

    That book has many life skill/discipline tips too. She (Sandra Felton) also has one listed on this site link as Organised to Write

    http://www.messies.com

    Ann

    1. I have not tackled the trait of perfectionism. I can see that it can create a lot of problems. Especially difficulty in getting a project started due to anxiety from not being able to complete it perfectly. I had not thought about this before.

      1. It was my biggest drawback. I would be defeated by just thinking out how to get something done properly then give up if I began and couldn’t follow my own “perfect” plan….

        Also, PROCRASTINATION was another big drawback for me, but with the tools I mentioned, I learned how to do a lot in small bites of time and how to organise efficiently….

      2. I am learning that small steps are the typical plan for overcoming most behavioral issues. Or at least it is the most effective, should I say.

      3. FLYLADY would say that you can do ANYTHING for 15 mins. Set your timer and GO! It works and is much better than getting nothing at all done. Take a break and then go crazy at something for another 15 mins. Things get done!

      4. Tony Horton with P90X workout regimen says the same thing about working out but uses “1 minute.” People truly underestimate the power of one small scoop at a time to move mountains. 🙂

  10. It is more about accepting change. Many myself included recognise that habbits are ingrained therefore we only change them temporarily. We need some how to seek and destroy the unhelpful (I’ve done it all my life) type of habits and replace them one at a time, with good learnt behaviours. One more should be ‘stand more minutes of your waking day than you sit or lay’.
    A Good Nudge! Thank you.😇

    1. My understanding of and view of habits changed when I read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. In it he explained habits to thoroughly and that understanding gave me the tools necessary to change any habit. It really is simple. But most people don’t understand and continue to focus on stopping an undesired habit, instead of replacing it with a desired habit. Once I understood this simple concept I was off and running.

  11. The things you have mentioned in your list are really great. I have tried some of them, but I also have a hard time working in a routine and being disciplined. Recently as I am getting older, I am a little disciplined than before as I have to take care of certain things at specific times. But definitely for personal growth and development, discipline is a key. Thank you for this reminder, feels like I was meant to see this today. 🙂

    1. I am glad you found the post useful. It is always nice to read that something I have written has helped someone else! Thank you so much for commenting and letting me know. It encourages me. 🙂

  12. I think we all struggle with motivation/discipline at some points during our lives and this list is an important reminder to refocus. I’m glad I saw this first thing this morning and I definitely agree that making the bed is the most important step to get the day started on the right foot. Excellent tips!

    1. Thank you Stephanae! I have written about making the bed many times and I stand by my statement that the habit of making the bed every single morning changed my life.

      1. I know what you mean. On days when I’m really, really sick and not only can’t get out of the bed let alone make it up I feel worse. It’s a habit that was developed early in life. I’ll have to check out some of your other writings on this topic during my exploration. Thanks

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