The most accomplished people in this world often attribute their success to their daily routines. It’s refreshing to think that even if you’re not the most talented or skilled individual, you can still come out on top with a little grit, determination, and consistency. However, if you have trouble establishing positive habits or getting rid of negative patterns, you might want to work on your discipline.
Why Do You Need Daily Discipline?
In this article, we discuss how to develop daily discipline. Once you have this under your belt, you can accomplish anything. You’ll create momentum and move forward consistently without waiting for inspiration to hit or getting stuck in a rut due to lack of motivation. When you have discipline, you can make deliberate choices to create the life that you want to live.
Jim Rohn says that self-discipline is the key to getting anything that you want. You reap what you sow. When you put forth a disciplined effort, you harvest the rewards.
Plus, discipline allows you to gain an understanding of what’s around the corner. You can’t control everything in life, but you know that you will generally follow through on your intentions when you practice discipline.
Some of the benefits of developing daily discipline include:
- Creating some control in your life
- Seeing a clear path toward your goals
- Knowing that you will take action
- Relieving uncertainty
- Establishing familiarity
- Reducing stress
- Improving time management
- Physical and mental health improvements
When you’re not disciplined, you might get things done, but you can’t usually guarantee it. Some people claim that they prefer to be spontaneous or go with the flow. These people might achieve their goals in passing, but they never know for sure if they will accomplish what they set out to do.
Of course, there are no guarantees in life. But when you’re disciplined, you know exactly what it takes to get what you want. You also understand that you’re going to take the action that’s necessary to realize your objectives. You might come up against obstacles or challenges, but your discipline helps you navigate around them.
Plus, discipline prevents you from reacting impulsively to everything that life throws your way. You know how to process your emotions. You show restraint when it’s necessary. You take the time to decide how you want to show up, and you take consistent action toward your goals.
Daily discipline can prevent you from experiencing high levels of stress that affects most Americans. You may not know what is going to happen in any given moment, but you know how you’re going to handle it. That is where true freedom lies.
Here are some practices to develop daily discipline.
Treat Every Day Like it Matters
Everything that you do is important. Every second count. Whether you spend the day watching Netflix and eating ice cream or hike the Appalachian Trail, your actions make a difference.
In the scenario where you watch TV all day, you might have needed the chance to unwind and relax your brain. If that’s the case, celebrate the fact that you did something to promote your self-care. On the other hand, if you were putting off doing other essential tasks, recognize that you could have spent your time more efficiently.
That time matters. But don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t spend it wisely. Instead of judging yourself or harping on what you should have done, take your less-than-perfect days as a lesson. In the remainder of this article, we’ll give you more tips on establishing discipline to record your time and reflect on what went well and what could have gone better.
Write it Down
Get into the habit of writing things down. What should you make a note of? Here are some suggestions:
- Vision board items
- Grocery lists
- Gift lists for holidays and birthdays
- Reflections on how your day went
When you write things down, you leave more space in your brain to process other information. Store the things that you write down somewhere accessible—such as Evernote, an app that syncs your notes across devices—and you’ll never have to worry about remembering them again.
One of the other benefits of writing things down is that it allows you to look at things objectively. Maybe you’re brainstorming or recording what you did that day. When you read over what you wrote, your brain won’t make the same distorted perceptions as it might when you retain those ideas in your mental space. Your mind can lie to you. Your writing is less likely to misrepresent the truth.
Doing a brain dump allows you to let things go. You can put your worries and concerns on paper and leave them there so that they don’t generate anxiety. If you have ideas, write them down now so that you can shelve them for later. You can always rehydrate them another time when you’re feeling more inspired.
Set Goals and Intentions
Speaking of writing things down, you should set goals regularly. Goals can be long-term objectives, such as saving money to buy a house in five years. You can also set short-term goals, such as finishing your main priority for the day.
Keeping a combination of long and short-term goals is a great way to make sure that you’re on the right path in life. When you do things like spend a day lying on the couch, your goals help you pick up where you left off the next day without losing ground. They also help you prioritize your activities and make clear decisions.
If you’re just getting into the goal-setting habit, try answering the following questions at the beginning of every day:
- What am I grateful for today?
- How do I want to feel today?
- What is the first thing that I want to check off my to-do list today?
Writing down your answers will help you get clear on your priorities. Setting an intention for how you want to feel lets you act according to your desires. When you write down the first thing that you’re going to check off your to-do list, you’re much more likely to take action right away.
Routines are one of the keys to creating structure in your life. They may take some time to establish, but once you’ve gotten used to them, they take some of the pressure off of you.
Think about how much effort it takes to brush your teeth. It probably doesn’t take much brainpower, right? You’ve done it so many times that you could do it with your eyes closed and don’t have to think about it.
Imagine what else you could automate by making it routine. Some ideas are:
- Meal planning
- Grocery shopping
- Getting ready for work in the mornings
- Tackling homework for kids
- Managing the first hour at work
- Finishing things up at work before you leave for the day
- Putting away essential items, like your keys, purse and sunglasses
- Getting into a creative flow
- Creating a to-do list at the beginning of the day
- Journaling at the end of the day
When you make these tasks routine, you become more efficient. You spend less time planning. As you jump into action, you become more productive.
Some of the other reasons why a routine is so important are:
- It instills good habits and helps break bad ones
- It helps you master skills because you do them regularly
- It improves your ability to prioritize
- It doesn’t require you to rely on willpower
- It boosts self-confidence
- It reduces procrastination
- It enhances momentum
- It facilitates relaxation
- It gives you more free time
Do the Same Thing Every Day
Doing the same thing every day goes along with the idea of establishing a routine. It’s especially vital if you’re trying to implement a new habit.
When you’re doing something new, and you want it to stick, you don’t have to spend a lot of time doing it or be aggressive about making the change in your life. Instead, think in terms of baby steps, and do them consistently.
Maybe you really want to start exercising. You’ve never been consistent with working out. You’ve had some decent stretches during which you’ve been excited to hit the gym, but the habit never seems to last.
Instead of setting a goal to work out for an hour or even 30 minutes every day, what if you told yourself that you would move your body for a mere 5 minutes? Give yourself a week, and make sure that you do it every day. The following week, work out for 10 minutes.
By the time you work up to a 30-minute workout, you will have done it so consistently that not doing it will feel uncomfortable. Consistency is one of the keys to habit formation.
What if you don’t want to exercise every day? Then, set certain days that you will work out no matter what. For example, you might establish Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays as your gym days. When those days come up, you don’t have to decide to exercise. You know that you’re going to do it.
Maintain your schedule even if you don’t feel like it. It might help to record your workout in a planner, calendar or notebook. Every time you write it down, your brain sends out rewarding neurotransmitters. Jerry Seinfeld calls this his “Don’t Break the Chain” method of discipline. You’ll become so addicted to recording your efforts that you won’t want to miss a day.
Do Something You Love First Thing in the Morning
Discipline sounds like something boring, tedious and mundane. It seems like something that you have to force yourself to do.
However, you can develop discipline surrounding anything, including the things that you’re most passionate about. Our culture teaches us that going after our hobbies and pursuing enjoyable interests is something that you should put aside until you’ve accomplished your more “productive” obligations, such as making money, producing something or helping others.
Even most school-aged kids are told that they must do their homework before they can play after school. Some types of education systems, such as the Montessori method, understand that this is a surefire way to stop children from enjoying learning.
But the idea that you should work before you play is pervasive in our society. We continue to follow this way of thinking well into adulthood.
You might tell yourself that you can do something that you enjoy as a reward for getting your chores done. After you finish the laundry, make lunch for the next day, clean the bathroom and check your work emails, you can relax with a good book or work on that painting that you’ve been messing with.
How often do your plans disintegrate? Either it takes too long to cater to your obligations, or you’ve lost your motivation to do the thing that you love by the time you’ve struggled through your grueling day.
Discipline doesn’t have to be mind-numbing. Create some discipline around your passions by doing something that you love as soon as you wake up.
Some ideas include:
- Creative writing
- Coloring or doodling
- Making other types of art
- Watching something amusing on TV
- Reading a good book
- Taking an indulgent bubble bath
- Eating something delicious
- Sitting outside with your coffee, enjoying the sounds of nature
As you practice discipline in these areas, you’ll also become more proficient at them. You could really master a hobby or skill by making time for the things that you love every day.
Don’t let this step slide. If life feels too busy to do the things that you love, you should focus on them even more. Otherwise, you might fall into a cycle of imbalance that makes you feel overwhelmed, depressed, irritable or unmotivated. When that happens, you’ll probably be even less inspired to practice your daily discipline strategies.
Pay Your Bills on Time
If you’re disciplined with everything else in your life but neglect your finances, they’re going to eat away at you. Financial burdens rev up your sympathetic nervous system. In fact, any time you don’t know what’s about to happen, you activate your flight-or-fight response. It’s your body’s way of preparing to protect itself in a survival situation.
When you don’t know where your next paycheck is coming from or how you’re allocating it, you trigger an elevation in stress levels. Constant subconscious worries about money can make you chronically stressed.
Get into the habit of checking your financial accounts frequently. Some people like to monitor their bank account daily. You might be able to do it every few days. If you have to record income and expenses for tax purposes, get into the habit of doing that every day too.
Meditation is a discipline in and of itself. It takes mental power and practice to go beyond the resistance that you feel when you try to sit still and quiet your mind.
Developing a meditation habit can also help you stop intense emotions from throwing you off of your discipline game. Humans are wired to respond to their feelings. Therefore, when we see the promise of pleasure, we might turn away from self-discipline, which might seem boring and unrewarding at the moment.
We rush toward instant gratification, which is a killer of:
Unfortunately, we’re in the golden age of technology. We’re used to landing a date or ordering groceries with the click of a button or swipe of the finger. We have to train ourselves away from instant gratification if we’re going to set a strong foundation of discipline.
Meditation rewires your brain. It helps you find gratification within yourself instead of looking externally for contentment. It helps you stay strong in your discipline instead of giving in every time you have a craving.
Just as meditation works your mind, exercise works your body. You develop discipline surrounding your physical form when you exercise. You aren’t always going to want to do it. Sometimes, building strength and endurance feels difficult. You won’t grow unless you push yourself, though.
You might think that weight lifters hit the gym to improve their physique. However, many do it because of the mental health benefits that it provides. Exercising can enhance your motivation. It helps you stay determined.
Exercise also generates physical changes in your brain that help you think and learn. If you believe that you’re not very self-disciplined, try exercising regularly and see how doing so changes your mastery of every area of your life.
Take Action After Every Plan
Whether you’re setting goals for 10 years from now or setting up a girl’s night for Friday night, take one action every time you have a big idea. This can help you create some momentum and encourages you to transform your dreams into reality.
Whenever you brainstorm new ideas, ask yourself, “What’s the first step I can take toward that objective?” It doesn’t have to be big. Once you know what that step is, take it.
The more you take action, the more likely you’ll be to move toward your goals.
Write Down Your “Ahas”
You may not realize it, but you have inspired thoughts all the time. Many people are just too busy to notice their own brilliance. They may also be too numbed out by overwhelm to retain inspiring things that they hear.
Any time you come up with a splendid one-liner or read an inspiring quote, write it down. You might want to make a running list that includes all of these moving ideas. Just write the date and list any encouraging sentences or phrases below it.
Doing this will help you stay inspired even when you’re not being hit by rainbows and butterflies. You can reflect on them throughout the day to improve your positive attitude. You might re-read your list when you’re feeling down or uninspired.
Your list will remind you of the wisdom and insight that you have inside of you. You’ll remember that you can generate enthusiasm at any time. Keeping up with your list can even help you retain the momentum that you need to stay disciplined when you’re not feeling it.
Learn Something New Every Day
Make it a goal to continue to learn throughout your life. You’ll stay inspired when you continue to learn. Plus, the skills and knowledge that you develop will contribute to your growth.
Also, learning gives you a rush of dopamine, which makes you feel good. This neurotransmitter also keeps you motivated. It activates the novelty center of your brain and helps prime your neurons to learn even more.
Work learning into your daily routine. You can spend 15 minutes or less on learning.
Some ideas include:
- Using an app to learn a language
- Watch a how-to video on YouTube
- Join a creative membership site, such as Skillshare or Craftsy
- Keep track of questions that you have about the world, and research the answers to them
This article explains how to create your own curriculum for learning something new every day. If you’re not sure how to use what you’ve learned, consider sharing it on social media. Regurgitating the new information can help you solidify it. Plus, you might be able to attract followers and make money from the information that you share.
Decide What You Want
Are you a people-pleaser? Do you live by the standards that your parents, friends or significant other have set for you? You’ll be able to create a more meaningful life if you start to live by your own standards.
Many of us have given up our authenticity for others for so long that we need to develop the discipline to do this. Every day, ask yourself what you want. What do you want to do, achieve or have? How do you want to show up for yourself?
Write down your answer. Keep it in the forefront of your mind throughout the day. Doing this will help you say “yes” when you really mean it and avoid activities that don’t benefit you. When you live according to your desires, you pursue your goals with passion and achieve everything that you set out to accomplish.
Develop an Attitude of Gratitude
It’s easy to fall into a pattern of noticing what’s going wrong. We are conditioned to do this from an early age. We even do puzzles that require us to circle what’s wrong with the picture. We’re never asked to complete puzzles that ask what’s right with the picture.
When you’re used to noticing the negative, it becomes your pattern. Your patterns become comfortable. Therefore, thinking positively and looking for the good in your life feels uncomfortable.
You can change the habit of negative thinking, but it takes some work. It’s not enough to stop thinking unconstructively. You have to replace the negative thoughts with positive ones.
Start out the day with a gratitude practice. Force yourself to name three things that you’re grateful for. Write them down. Refer to them throughout the day.
If you don’t infuse your brain with positive thoughts, you’ll fall right back into your habitual patterns. In other words, you’ll focus on the negative.
Concentrating on what you’re grateful for has other benefits. When your new habit of daily discipline feels hard, you will naturally gravitate toward looking on the bright side.
Gratitude also improves your self-esteem. When you believe in yourself, you’re more likely to try new things. You’re not averse to failure. You keep going even when you’re struggling. In other words, you have more self-discipline.
Reflect at the End of the Day
In addition to waking up at 5 a.m. and setting an intention to do something good each day, Ben Franklin ended every evening by asking, “What good did I do today?” Although Franklin admitted that he never achieved perfection, he was a better and more satisfied man because of his daily discipline.
It’s as essential to evaluate your progress as it is to set intentions and goals. If you don’t take time to assess what has happened throughout your life, how will you know if you’re achieving what you want?
Many of us gauge our success by the things that we obtain or the accomplishments that we realize. We don’t often stop to look at how we’ve done positive things when they’re more subtle.
Instead of focusing on the obvious successes, what if you considered the virtues that you upheld each day? Were you kind to others? How were you generous? Did you exhibit leadership? Thinking about yourself in this way allows you to concentrate on what’s really important in life.
It also lets you develop your days in a way that’s meaningful and fulfilling. Do you want to establish daily discipline just to cross things off of your to-do list, or do you want to feel as though you lived your life purposefully? Reflecting on your virtues and celebrations before you go to bed helps you realize your significance in this world.