I believe that discipline is one of the most important skills an entrepreneur needs to have to succeed. After all, there’s no boss telling you to do your job, so without discipline you won’t get anything done.
However, I think that we are somewhat confused about what discipline is. We tend to think that we need to be strong enough to resist all temptations and do all the work we need to do. What I’ve discovered lately is that the best way to be disciplined is to help yourself by removing all possible temptations from the situations where you need to get your work done.
For example, I’m a rugby player and I need to train six times a week. Sometimes I train with my team but twice each week we’re supposed to train on our own. I had been skipping at least 50% of those training sessions. When I talked to my rugby friends about it, it turned out that this had been happening to them too. We made an agreement: instead of training on our own, we’d get together at the park to train. Whoever didn’t show up had to pay the other four of us $20 each. That’s $80 if you miss a practice! In two months, only one of us missed a session.
Here’s the funny part: because we all live in different parts of the city, we need to drive for 30 minutes to get to the park. It’d be much more convenient to train on our own. The problem is, it doesn’t work. We’ve already tried. Most of us are faced with situations like this one every day of our lives and we usually try to convince ourselves that driving 30 minutes to do something you can do in your own neighborhood is stupid and that we should be strong enough to not miss any training session without any extra incentives. You’re a human being; relax, take it easy. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Temptations exist. You can either make it really hard for yourself or manipulate the situations you’re in so things are easier for you.
This is how I manipulated some situations of my life to make things easier for myself:

  • I wanted to eat more fruits and less junk food. So, instead of buying both at the grocery store, I only got fruits and no junk food. Now, every time I want junk food I need to drive a whole mile to the closest gas station. I’ve probably reduced my intake of junk food by 90%.
  • I used to check my email several times a day and that was killing me. There’s no way to focus on something and be productive if you check your email every five minutes. I decided to tear up a $1 bill every time I checked my email during the day. Six months later, I’m out $3 and I’m 200% more productive. Not bad, huh?
  • When I get very stressed out, I start sniffing. This gives me headaches and stomach cramps. I used to think that it’s part of me and I couldn’t change it. Last month I did an experiment: every time I started sniffing, I’d take a 5-minute break from work. The first week of my experiment I was really pissed at myself. I’d work for two minutes, start sniffing, take five minutes off, then work for 30 seconds, start sniffing again, take another five minutes off and so on. I couldn’t get any work done. But little by little I started associating the sniffing with the punishment and I stopped doing it. Now it probably happens once or twice a day, but I don’t have the headaches or stomach cramps anymore.

This post is a little different from my usual Internet marketing posts, but being disciplined is extremely important, and I found a technique that worked for me and wanted to share it with you. I hope it was helpful. Talk to you soon.