Being your own boss is something that sounds attractive and is in vogue. Who doesn’t want to call their own shots? But what’s not talked about so much or not nearly as sexy is the word: discipline.
Discipline sounds like something from the military or a tough father that doesn’t connect with enjoyability. But discipline is essential for any success when going out on your own or leading a business with employees. Without discipline, an entrepreneur or creative type is like the wings of a bird without the body.
When you work for someone much of the discipline is manufactured for you: don’t show up to work on time regularly, get fired… don’t perform well at your job, receive heat from your manager. But when you’re in charge, discipline must come internally since nobody is there to objectively punish you.
Another story that is not told so much in entrepreneurship is the story of resistance. Resistance is strong when discipline is weak and leads to procrastination. The only way to push through resistance is with discipline. Cultivating discipline takes discipline if that makes any sense. It’s a crucial skill to master if you want to own your life by your own terms.
Here are 7 things to help stay disciplined:
1. A morning routine of some sort. Mine goes like so: meditation followed by hot yoga or TRX five mornings a week. Do I wake up wanting to do this? Definitely not. Do I always feel better afterward? Yes.
2. No social media or emails in the morning. Keep your phone on airplane mode as late as you can (I’m fortunate since my US business is 10 hours behind and everybody’s sleeping, this doesn’t help at the end of the day though).
This morning I had 4 solid hours to work on my creative work before any outside distractions. But this isn’t always easy. The mind often wants to gravitate toward the easy reactive tasks of checking social media and email.
3. Batching tasks. I own a business in the US and am working on creating creative content from around the world while setting up a new business model. There are many moving parts and I need to keep them separated to be efficient. For example, for this hour I’m only going to work on writing and nothing else. My phone is in airplane mode when I get stuck on an idea I discipline myself not to turn to social media or any other external noise. After that I’m going to work for two hours solely on a video I’m making about Iran. After that, I will check email and socials.
4. Setting out a schedule and know what you’ll be doing for the week; know exactly what you’ll be doing the following day. Therefore you won’t waste time making organizational decisions during the day.
5. Foresight and doing the things that you don’t want to do. So much about business and creative endeavors are doing the things you don’t want to do but that will set you up for down the road. Next month I need to re-write all of my employee manuals for my business; I heavily dislike this task. It’s not necessary that I do them now but I will need them for this summer. By doing them now I’ll have them set up for when I need them and they won’t take me away from the video projects I want to do this summer.
6. Shutting it off. Many entrepreneur types never shut it off. Clearing some space to not be doing also takes discipline. I personally have a hard time with this since there are an endless amount of things to be done.
7. Trying to release at the end of the day from everything and zone out to some Youtube, or reading. Shutting off social media and not looking at it before bed is helpful for sanity (I’m telling myself this as I write it).
To do what you want, you have to do a lot of things that you don’t want to do.
Excuses and talk are cheap. Doing the work and staying true to avoiding distractions takes discipline. Those who have it tend to succeed at what they’re doing and those who don’t tend to fail unless they’re in a work environment with strict with punishments and rewards.
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