The Art of Discipline

My exercise partner

Recently I helped my daughter clean out her room. (It was a full-day activity.) I do this periodically with my kids, and help them re-establish where everything goes. We also eliminate excess things that don’t have a place (which is what led to the problem in the first place.)

However this time we’re also doing something else. In addition to her nice new clean room, I’m also helping her establish new habits by doing a review of the room every night. Before she goes to bed we look around and make sure everything has been put back where it belongs. When she’s not sure where something goes, we review the organization system we set up. And I’ve noticed that, for the first time, the room is staying clean. That more and more, she is starting to put things back on her own. And she feels better about her room. She’s proud to show it to people.

And it got me to thinking about discipline. We all need it if we want to be successful in business. And it’s more than just a state of mind. We have to create the systems that support the discipline we’re trying to establish.

Here’s another example…last spring I started running. I do it nearly every morning, and I’m up to about 3 miles per day. I’ve always tried to stick to exercise systems before, but they never lasted for more than a month or two, because I didn’t enjoy them. But now I look forward to my morning runs, and plan my morning routine around them.

What’s different this time?

Well first, I run with my dog. And it gives her incredible joy. All I need to do is mention the word “walk” in the morning, and she starts jumping around in circles for joy, urging me to hurry up and get out the door. If my willpower is wavering a bit that morning, in a strong moment I’ll mention “walk” and then there’s no choice but to get up and go. She’ll be all over me until I do it.

And I see the difference it’s made in her. We all put on a bit of weight this past winter (it was a long, cold winter.) Now she’s back to the beautiful, sleek, healthy animal we rescued several years ago. And that makes me (and her) happy.

It’s also made a difference in me. I feel better. I’m not tired. And I’m losing weight. My clothes are fitting better. People are starting to notice. It feels good.

But notice…if I relied solely on willpower to get out the door, I’m not sure I would have stayed so consistent. It would have been a lot harder. Instead, I’ve got an extra system to motivate me…my dog.

We can do it in our businesses too.

  • If you need more discipline to pick up the phone, find an accountability partner. Commit to a certain number of calls each day, and hold each other accountable to do it.
  • If you want to hold 2-3 parties per week, then block it out in your calendar, and plan your entire routine around the fact that you will be working then. Don’t just fit your parties in when you have spare time. Plan ahead and you’ll be more likely to fill those dates. (The same goes for opportunity interviews.)
  • If you want to earn a certain income level, plan to use that money for something that affects your family (like school tuition or a vacation.) If it’s necessary for you to earn the income, you’re a lot more likely to do what it takes.

Yes, discipline is important. But discipline with systems to support it is discipline that lasts.

What systems have you built to encourage discipline in your business? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.

7 Responses to The Art of Discipline
  1. Nik
    August 29, 2011 | 3:24 am

    Hi Jennifer,

    Great post, similar like a partner in crime you need a partner is discipline. Dog are great and kids are even better. They make you go out and play or go for a walk. As for business I agree a good partner is crucial. I work with a lot of individuals and as their coach I set them targets and challenges until these things become a habit.

    Nik recently posted..Getting More Out of Your Direct Gov Job Search

  2. Gudrun Aegisdottir
    August 27, 2011 | 9:48 am

    Thank you, Jennifer! This perk could not have come at a better time – for me! I constantly forget where I put things. I used to be good at organizing things, but not anymore for some reason. Hope it´s not an early Alzheimer. But if I use the trick you thought your daughter; not going to bed before everything is in its place, it would make a big difference in my working room. AND to take time to write it down! – The other advice comes in handy, too! I have two small dogs- which I love dearly. It is save to say, that I take good care of them in every way- BUT – it has to be said; I´m just plain lazy taking them out for a brisk walk. They love it, when I do. Luckily my grandsons have up to now taken good care of that (while I am sitting comfortably knitting in my chair). But inspired by what you wrote today, things are going to change around here! – I wish I could hug you for writing this! THANKS – AND THANKS AGAIN:)))

  3. Angela Chrysler
    August 26, 2011 | 7:59 pm

    Great article, and super cute walking partner! I will share this with our team it is a great reminder for us all. Thanks.

  4. Carrie
    August 26, 2011 | 2:31 pm

    Great post, Jen. It’s so true! Accountability is huge. I loved that you shared a personal testimonial. Cheers to you!

  5. Pat Zahn
    August 26, 2011 | 11:51 am

    I love that your dog is your accountability partner! I’ve started a new habit that has reaped rewards for me. I write for at least 30 minutes every day. Depending on what needs to get done, it might be different things, but I always start with my journal (finally started after about 20 years of promising myself I would.) If I have “ugly” thoughts I can get them out, then I might brainstorm ideas for my biz and I create a to-do list. The difference btwn this and the to-do lists I’ve created in the past is that I’m not just creating a list, there has been more thought in why that item is on my list and why I need to get it done, so I’m more likely to do it. This discipline has made me accountable to myself.
    Pat Zahn recently posted..Direct Sellers: Please Behave Part 1 (I implore you)

  6. Lori Sauerwein
    August 25, 2011 | 11:06 am

    Love this post, Jen! The “buddy system” makes it so much easier to stay on track with everything. Sharing goals with team members is another way to help everyone stay focused on moving toward the “prize”, whatever that may be.

    • Jennifer Fong
      August 25, 2011 | 12:31 pm

      That’s a great idea Lori! Thanks for commenting!

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