Discipline is like the holy grail. If you can master it, you can achieve just about anything you set in your sights. At certain times, discipline comes to us more easily than others. For example, going to the gym regularly before your big summer beach vacation. We have no problem maintaining a certain level of discipline for a short amount of time and with a very specific goal in mind. But the big question remains. How do we maintain our discipline as a way of life?
Understanding how others maintain their discipline particularly in the work context can be helpful since disciplined individuals often achieve significant career success. Here are 10 habits of highly disciplined people.
1. They Commit.
Disciplined people are true to their word. When they make a decision to do something, it’s set in stone, and they don’t even need an accountability partner to keep them on track. If you've worked with someone who is disciplined you have likely seen how others benefit from their organization and reliability.
2. They Avoid Temptation.
Resisting temptation is so hard isn’t it? Well, guess what? It’s hard for everyone, and that includes the highly disciplined person as well. They’re not necessarily better at resisting temptations, they’re just better at avoiding them all together! In the work context, this means an ability to focus on the tasks and projects at hand and commit to deadlines rather than get tempted by side issues or new ideas. Focus is often the opposite of temptation in the work context.
3. They Take Care of Themselves.
Their body is their temple. Things like sleep, good nutrition and exercise are high on their to-do list. It’s not just about their health; they know the impact these areas have on other aspects of their well-being, such as in their mood, work performance, and relationships. Eating lunch, taking breaks, and paying attention to when you need to physically get up and away from your desk is all very important to maintaining discipline over the long run.
4. They Work at Developing Habits.
Many people look at a disciplined life as being synonymous with a deprived life. But that’s not the way they see it. They only see that they are gaining a new habit, which takes time and energy to establish. Having scheduled time for focused work, avoiding multi-tasking during meetings or other small habits like not constantly checking email are signs you have good work habits.
5. They Set Boundaries.
To lead a disciplined life, you need to know your limitations, especially when it comes to your time. Setting boundaries and saying no to things you don’t want to do or that are distractions makes room to accomplish what is essential and important in each day. This can be accomplished through calendar practices or simply communicating clearly at work when you can't take on more without sacrificing the quality of whatever you are currently working on.
6. They Revel in Routine.
Routine is the cornerstone of discipline, especially when it comes to efficiency and time management. This can be done in many ways, including running every day before even looking at emails, so you can start your day with a clear and open mind, or wearing a uniform of Jeans and a black t-shirt like Mark Zuckerberg, so you don’t have to waste time thinking about what you’re going to wear to work.
7. They Lead with Their Mind Over Their Mood.
They don’t let their feelings—such as not being in the mood to go to the gym on any given morning—get in the way of actually going. They just focus on the routine and stick to it. This includes tasks you simply have to get through at work and don't relish. It is very normal to not want to do certain parts of your job, but the disciplined person perserveres.
8. They Clearly Define their Goals.
All this discipline leads to more than just very fit, well-rested bodies. It usually produces high-achieving professionals. They know that if a goal is too vague it’s not likely to be achieved. The more specific goals the goals they add to their to-do list are, the greater the possibility of accomplishing them is.
9. They Live and Die by Deadlines.
Their calendars are king. They don’t just set goals; they give themselves strict timelines using clear mini goals and milestones as markers to keep them on track along the way.
10. They Keep Their Eye on The Prize.
Probably the most well-known test of discipline is the famed marshmallow test. In the test, kids were asked to sit in front of a marshmallow and were faced with a choice. Eat the marshmallow now, or, if they could resist eating it, they would get two! People who are highly self-disciplined can pass up immediate gratification in the pursuit of greater long-term gains. This could mean staying committed to a project or job for longer instead of immediately trying to look for a new opportunity, or simply not letting a career setback change the course of everything they set out to do. While very personal and situational, most longer term goals involve overcoming challenges and obstacles.
This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.
Michele Mavi is a career strategist and executive coach. She has been helping individuals advance their careers and organizations hire top talent for over 15 years. After much success as a recruiter servicing clients like Eileen Fisher, Lazard, Bulgari and Deloitte, she moved into corporate training and coaching to further her passion for talent development.
What advice do you have to become more disciplined at work and how has discipline factored into your career progress or achievements? Share in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members.
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