Self-discipline is a cornerstone of your life. Mine too. Also like you, I want to get better at it. So recently I decided to consult the most disciplined person I know:
Jason Van Camp is the founder and chairman of Mission 6 Zero. The company specializes in performance enhancement. Jason is also a West Point graduate, a Green Beret, and a great human being.
I recently connected with Jason to learn secrets to self-discipline. He shared seven daily habits that keep this Green Beret sharp, in tune, and over-performing on a consistent basis.
1. Create a routine that excites you.
Start out the day with a win. Wake up early. For most people, it’s difficult to get out of bed in the morning. The secret is to give yourself a reason to get excited about it.
Do you love your work so much that you can’t wait to get out of bed in the morning? Or does an early morning workout excite you and set you up for the day?
Is an incredible breakfast or coffee what gets you out of bed? Or does finishing a book or listening to an amazing podcast inspire you? Whatever it is, you’re already 1-0.
Finally, make your bed, but I’ll let Admiral McRaven tell you about that …
2. Create a culture of accountability.
Military leaders are told “everything that the team does or fails to do is your responsibility.” You are the quarterback. As such, you’re expected to deflect all the credit to your team and take all the blame when things don’t go well. In the corporate world, you can replicate this mentality with your colleagues.
Did the boss make a poor decision? It’s your fault. Wait. What? Yes. It’s your fault for not providing the boss the appropriate information to help him make a better decision.
Did you just land an incredible sale? Recognize someone else in the office for setting your sale up for success. You didn’t do it by yourself.
Identify someone in the office who needs help. Reach out to that person as a mentor and friend. Commit to that person’s success. By being accountable for that person’s success or failure, you have a new purpose, a new drive, and a little more excitement in your life.
3. Remove temptations.
Learn to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. Go on a diet and leave your favorite snack on the kitchen table. Stare at the snack when you are making your rice cakes and almond butter for lunch and licking an apple for dinner.
Make it painful and remind yourself that pain is just weakness leaving the body. If you do the unthinkable and falter, write down the time–that’s your breaking point.
Make it a goal to outlast your breaking point the next time.
4. Treat your body well (eat well, exercise).
Developing a rhythm of health-related activities snowballs and creates patterns of self-discipline. Have you ever been the guy busting his ass at the gym with little to show for it? Do you ever glance over at the ripped dude flexing in the mirror for an hour? Did you notice that he didn’t even work out before he went home?
You think to yourself, “How is this dude in such great shape? He doesn’t do anything at the gym!” The truth of the matter is science. This dude is working smarter, not harder. To treat your body well, you have to know how to do it.
Education, as is usually the case, is the solution. I didn’t become healthy until I met with a nutritionist. He broke it down for me. What I can eat, what I cannot eat, what my body processes and what it won’t. When I should eat, how much I should eat, and how I should be working out.
It turns out that by expending less effort, working out less, spending less money at the grocery store, and eliminating spending money eating out, you get immediate and effective results.
5. Define your goal.
Knowing what you want helps you have a clear vision. It’s easy to lose your way, to get confused, and to fall down in your life journey. You have so many people in your ear advising you to do different, sometimes opposite, things.
Create a brand mantra. Figure out who you are and what you are about. The most successful people I know are the people who know who they are and never deviate from it. Stay authentic.
6. Schedule downtime.
Take a nap. It’s the best part of my day. I look forward to it all day. The times vary, but sometime after lunch I go to my quiet spot. It’s a dark, silent, and cold place. I take a 20-minute nap. My batteries are recharged. I am ready to tackle the rest of the day with renewed enthusiasm. Also, take some mini vacations throughout the day. My mini vacation coincides with my nutritional eating.
Every time I eat, I remove myself from my work. I go to a nice place with some light. Be around nature. Listen to a podcast, read a book, or watch television. Unplug. Finish your 10-minute meal. Go back to work.
7. Focus on what’s necessary.
You have a to-do list that is a mile long. I know. I do too. Most of the items on my to-do list consist of sending emails or making phone calls that aren’t immediately responded to. As a to-do-list guy, that inability to check tasks off is frustrating. So I pick three things during the day that I need to do–that I need to check off.
Pick three things, max. If I check off those three things, mission accomplished. Results will follow.
Finally, if you want to be self-disciplined, get excited about getting excited.
Reward yourself by giving yourself something to get excited about. Anticipation of an event is almost always more powerful than the event itself. Your excitement will become contagious.
Attaining the next object or achieving the next goal will become an obsession to you. And once you achieve your goal, you find yourself looking for another goal, which is even more exciting.