Entrepreneur, it’s French in origin and sounds evocative. And like the term ‘startup’ it once sounded attractive, even exciting. You’re trying to push this new business forward. But there’s a maddening frustration that you can’t get things done. It seems your “to do list” just keeps growing.
You’re supposed to be your own boss now, but mastering yourself is a lot harder than you thought. This unfulfilled feeling won’t go away. You’ve got to try something different. The good news is you can learn how to build self discipline right now with 7 strategies. Self-Discipline is defined as, “the ability to control one’s feelings and overcome one’s weaknesses”. It’s your weapon to get things done when inspiration falters. Let’s jump into those 7 strategies.
1. Slay Temptations with Jedi Willpower
Now is your chance to join “the resistance”. Except it’s not Star Wars. The battle is against instant gratification. It’s a war for your attention. To resist impulses. To resist the urge for social media, snacking, checking email, caffeine, online shopping, YouTube and on and on. Recognise and weed out these enemies. Because long term goals are linked to delayed reward.
Vow to stop consuming and start creating. Self-discipline is the vehicle between your worthy goal and your prize. Block out your morning to get that hard work done. Let everyone know you can’t be disturbed. See your whims and desires for what they are. Switch your smartphone off and put it out of sight. Resist those urges to surf the web. You have to be ruthless! Persevere and you will start feeling powerful again.
2. Banish Excuses One Step at a Time
Self-discipline is about growing new habits. Like building muscle, it takes effort. Instead of taking big leaps, focus on small changes. If you’re a night owl, it’s pointless trying to wake up two hours earlier from day one. Set the alarm a half hour earlier. By also changing your evening routine you’ll gradually start improving. Change takes time. Regular progress in one area is better than trying to change everything in one day. Intentional small steps lead to that better habit and excuses start to disappear.
“99% of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.” – George Washington Carver
3. Breakdown Smart Goals with Planning
Goals are wonderful dreamlike ambitions, but without a plan, they’ll remain in fairyland. Long term goals need to be brought into better focus. In ”the 12 Week Year” Brian Moran refers to this danger as ”we mistakenly believe that there is a lot of time left in the year, and we lack a sense of urgency”.
Say you want to reignite your reading habits of old. You’re aiming for 12 books this year. To read a 250-page book in 31 days is 8 pages daily. That’s only 30 minutes to an hour of reading. It seems a whole lot more achievable when broken down. Keep on track with SMART goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.
Planning is a map that helps you stay more disciplined. As James Clear put it, ”You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”
4. Organize an Environment to Win
Everyone struggles with keeping on top of things. I’ve seen university professors with offices that could be mistaken for a paper shredding room. So don’t sweat it. Make no mistake, being organized is a part of self-discipline. It has a calming effect by keeping you on track to win.
Being tidy and organised will help you with a mindset for getting things done. Give everything a home. Declutter and get rid of useless junk. At the end of the day, clear your desk and reset for tomorrow. Your workspace, your house, your car; it’s all a reflection of you.
5. Adopt a Positive Attitude for Success
When you’re always chasing something, it’s easy to forget what you have. Feeling gratitude for the untold opportunities at your fingertips helps you stay grounded. Negativity can drag you down and stifle everything else. Don’t waste a millisecond on things you can’t influence or change.
You can choose how you react to temporary failure or life’s dramas. That’s the difference between those disciplined to get up and push on and everyone else. They have more control over their thoughts and attitudes. They have a purpose and a powerful reason. And more often than not, they rise on the side of positivity.
6. Persistence to Victory
Committing your goals to paper and working on them demonstrates faith. So whether its micro changes or bigger leaps, keep momentum on your side with your daily effort. In fact, Earl Nightingale defined success as, ”the progressive realization of a worthy goal”. Sharing your tasks with a partner or accountability group will help you stay persistent. Sacrifice clears the road for persistence. Persistence is having the will to persevere in spite of setbacks, emotions or temporary failures.
“We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.” – Jim Rohn
7. Profit from Balance in Life
Maybe your further down this path. Business is on the up and you already have a lot of these qualities. But there’s a hidden danger lurking. Overly focusing on work and the expense of all.
You’ve let exercise slip or maybe you’re eating too much fast food. Even family time and duties are suffering. Imbalance in life can destroy achievements. It takes self-control to balance everything. It’s one of the hardest things to achieve because of all the demands.
Don’t let imbalance wreck what matters the most. Recharge, get out of the artificial world and into nature to revitalise your wellbeing and make a strict routine for sleep, exercise and family time. Having the discipline to balance life will enrich your work.
Remember that feeling when you let temptations dictate? That unfulfilled sinking feeling? It zaps your energy and spirits to move forward. The scary thing is, when left unchecked you stop believing and lose momentum.
Banish those excuses by focusing self-discipline on one area at a time. From the list above start to implement one strategy today. You could see your output soar. Best of all, you’re feeling better and conquering the day.
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Many people are ashamed of failure. If they so much as smell a whiff of failure, they quit instantly because the public notices it quickly. But you shouldn’t be ashamed of failure. A lot of people have failed. I’ve failed over and over again in my career, business, relationships and more. Yet, I keep trying because failure isn’t the final verdict. (more…)
How to Move Forward When All Seems Lost
A few weeks ago, the relationship of my venture with a long-term client turned rocky. Losing them would mean a huge loss for my business, but it appeared like that’s where we were headed. My mind raced with unpleasant thoughts. Maybe the client had figured out that I couldn’t lead my team well. Maybe I was not good enough to be an entrepreneur. Maybe I was not good enough to do anything.
Why was the world so unfair?! Within moments, my anxiety had shot through the roof and my heart was racing faster than an F1 car engine. But I know I’m not the only one who feels like this.
Why Problems Overwhelm Us
As human beings, we’re good at solving problems, so they shouldn’t stress us out. Yet, they do just that. Why?
Consider some of these situations in life. When a relationship is headed for troubled waters, we wonder whether our partner loves us anymore. Our mind unearths memories of when we got dumped or rejected. We blame ourselves for falling for the wrong people and tell ourselves that we’re not worth receiving love.
How do you think the relationship will steer after that? If we cannot stick to a diet, we think of other times when we gave up. We remember what people said about things that we couldn’t do and ask ourselves, “were they right?” We tell ourselves that we don’t have what it takes to succeed at anything.
Do you think we’ll find the grit to stick to the diet after this? So here we are… thinking we’re not good enough to be entrepreneurs, to be loved, to get promoted, or to achieve our personal goals. Notice a pattern yet? We move in the wrong direction. The destination is to achieve the goal. And unless we stop giving into emotions and start addressing situations, we’ll keep failing to get there.
Negative emotions (and even extremely positive ones) blur our vision. The more we focus on them, the deeper we go into how we feel. We either get angry because things aren’t the way we want them to be, or get paralyzed by the fear of the worst possible outcome. This means we pull away from the one thing we must do to set things right — take action.
“If you can’t sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there and worrying. It’s the worry that gets you, not the loss of sleep.” – Dale Carnegie
How to Take Action in the Face of Problems
Most human beings are good at solving problems. Where we get blindsided is at diagnosing the right problem. To diagnose the right problem, we must address the situation instead of emotions. We must see things for what they are, collect facts on what we’re worrying about, and then ask ourselves, “What should I do next?”
In his book “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”, Dale Carnegie wrote: “Neither you nor I nor Einstein nor the Supreme Court of the United States is brilliant enough to reach an intelligent decision on any problem without first getting the facts.”
To address the tricky situation with my client, I took the following three steps:
1. First, I acknowledged the feeling
Solving a problem doesn’t mean ignoring emotions. It’s important to acknowledge how you feel because it reveals the path, but domesticating your emotions is more important. I acknowledged how I felt by saying, “I feel anxious because the client might not want to work with us anymore and this will be a financial loss for us.”
Note how I said “I feel anxious” and not “I’m a loser.” If I had given into negative chatter, I wouldn’t have uncovered the direction to move in (the part after “because”). This is why domesticating emotions is crucial.
2. Next, I prepared for the worst
We often run from our worst fears rather than facing them despite knowing that the worst outcome rarely comes true. The result is that we stay stuck in fear instead of pushing beyond it. And we never discover what we’re really capable of, which sucks.
In my case, the worst meant losing the client. It would hurt but it was the truth. However, we could get more clients. Plus we already had other clients who helped us pay the bills. In other words, I wouldn’t have to live on the street.
The moment I accepted this, a huge weight got lifted off my chest. This prepared me for the third and final step.
“Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes.” – Zig Ziglar
3. Lastly, I examined the situation
Examining a situation means setting aside your emotional baggage and focusing on facts. When you trust that you’ll be okay, you become better at diagnosing the real problem. Once I felt lighter, I could see things clearly.
I used the 5 Whys Technique (asking “why” five times) to figure out the real reason for the client’s dissatisfaction. Then I collected data on the issue and on what we had previously delivered.
Finally, I reached out to the CEO of the client and held a detailed and constructive discussion based on my findings. Within four days, the CEO and I were back to the way things were before.
The best way to prepare for tomorrow is to give today your best. I’m not sure whether the issue with the client got resolved for good or whether the client won’t pack up and leave one day. However, I am sure that I’m prepared to handle such cases better today than I was yesterday.
Control your emotions instead of letting them run amok. Accept things for what they are instead of what you want them to be. Be realistic instead of delusional. Address the situation instead of succumbing to emotions.
Don’t preempt what lies ten miles ahead and get paralyzed by fear. Address what lies clearly in front of you and keep moving. One day you’ll be surprised about how close to your destination you are.
How do you move forward when all hope seems to be lost? Share your advice below!
8 Effective Tips to Improve Your Emotional Wellbeing
You know what they say, “Health Is Wealth”. But, more often than not, we only mean it in the context of physical health. There’s no question that being fit is the world’s greatest treasure. Unfortunately, not a lot of us take time out to look after our emotional health and wellbeing.
Let’s not forget – it’s ‘Mind Over Matter’. So, if you are able to take control of your emotions, thoughts, how you feel through the day and how you respond to myriad situations; there’s nothing quite like it. When you become the master of your emotions; health, prosperity, and basically all good things are bound to follow you.
With that said, here are 8 surefire ways that will improve your emotional wellbeing:
1. Practice Mindfulness
Half the time, we don’t even know what we’re thinking or how we’re feeling. That’s because we let our minds operate on autopilot. It’s time to take control of your mind. Be aware of what and how you feel throughout the day. The upside to this practice is that you can detect negative emotions right on the onset and quickly change them and their corresponding feeling.
Feelings of anger, jealousy, hatred; they are not good for the mind, soul, or the body. Paying close attention to the spectrum of emotions you experience throughout the day, will help you detect the negative ones and kick them away before they fester deep enough to take away your happiness and emotional health.
2. Stay Physically Active
As you engage in physical activities, your brain produces a whole bunch of feel-good hormones such as endorphins and dopamine. These hormones are what causes the ‘elated’ or ‘euphoric’ feeling. Being physically active uplifts your mood and your outlook towards life. It readies you to take the challenges more head-on instead of becoming overwhelmed by the littlest of inconvenience.
You are better able to analyze tough situations and take a more proactive rather than a reactive approach. It’s no question physical health is in direct proportion with emotional health. A healthy mind resides in a healthy body and vice versa.
“Caring for the mind is as important and crucial as caring for the body. In fact, one cannot be healthy without the other.” – Sid Garza-Hillman
3. Get Sufficient Sleep
Ever noticed how you feel depressed and cranky, and just out of focus the day you fail to get a good night’s sleep? Well, if you fail to get sufficient sleep for a couple of days, you are bound to feel more depressed, cranky and eventually more prone to a host of negative emotions. Research shows that sleep deprivation sends amygdala – our brain’s emotional response center into overdrive.
Amygdala controls our immediate emotional responses. When it becomes overactive, we become more reactive rather than active. We become more irritable, angry and anxious. A good night’s sleep is vital to improving your emotional wellbeing.
4. Develop a New Hobby
Learn to swim. Try arts and crafts. How about painting? Swimming is a ‘happy’ activity. You get to make new friends and stay fit. Arts and crafts, as we all know, tends to have a relaxing effect on the mind and the nerves.
Just the process of creating something from scratch makes you confident and gets those creative juices flowing. Similarly, painting helps you express yourself. All these factors together create a ‘happy you’. The one who likes to engage in new things instead of resisting change or difficult situations.
5. Eat Healthy
Ever heard of the phrase, “You are what you eat”? Well, it’s true to the last syllable. When you eat foods rich in salt, sodium, fat – you are bound to feel lethargic. It takes longer for the body to digest such foods. That means the body is forced to deprive organs of blood and use it for the digestion purpose.
Result? You become lazy, moody, not ready to take any responsibility which leads to feeling cranky and irritable. On the other hand, eating fibrous vegetables, fruits, salads, and complex sugars keeps you upbeat and healthy.
6. Laugh Your Heart Out
Laughter is the best medicine. That is why they have a dedicated ‘laughter session’ in yoga studios. You don’t even have to mean it. The simple act of spreading your cheeks and pretending to laugh sends a signal to your body that you are happy.
And what happens when you are happy? Your brain releases happy hormones like dopamine, serotonin and what not. In fact, many studies have gone so far as to stipulate that laughter alone is capable of treating all kinds of physical ailments. Why should emotional ailments be any different?
7. Try Relaxation Techniques
‘’Visualization technique’’ where you imagine yourself in a happy place is a surefire way to calm your nerves if you find yourself distressed. You may also try praying to elate yourself. Praying is good for the mind and the soul.
Controlled breathing or ‘biofeedback technique’ are some other relaxation techniques that can tame how you feel and even your bodily functions. Try surrounding yourself with aromatherapy or scented candles because the smell is a big factor in governing how we feel.
“Positive emotional energy is the key to health, happiness and wellbeing. The more positive you are, the better your life will be in every area.” – Brian Tracy
8. Count Your Blessings
We all have so much to be thankful for. It could be a friend who stands by you or a happy family. Good health. Financial freedom. Make a list of all the things that you feel grateful for in your life. If it’s a person, be sure to communicate your feelings and express your gratitude.
You will feel so much happier. Happiness is the diet of a healthy mind and an intelligent emotional response mechanism. You could also try writing a poem or simply expressing your gratitude through the power of prayers.
There are so many ways to become emotionally intelligent and not one of them requires any investment or special skills. Practically anyone and everyone can do it. All you need is the will and the desire.
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The word gratitude has been tossed around, but do you know exactly what it means or how to implement it into your life? Someone has probably told you in your life, “Express more gratitude.” Well, that sounds like a great idea, but if you don’t know what gratitude is, how can you fully express it in your life? It’s a concept that once you grasp, it will change your life. (more…)
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