Speech on How to Achieve Success in Life Using Discipline
What is discipline?...
... Discipline is the cornerstone to achieving success in life. This means doing what you should do, rather than what you just want to do. In order to do this, it is necessary to have a set of guiding values which are non-negotiable. It is important to take time to consider what has true meaning for you. Defining what it is you stand for and never compromising these values, which will ultimately guide you towards your goals.
It is easy to become passionate about something and choose to work towards that goal - what is harder is sticking with it. Did you ever start a project, only to get bored or unmotivated so you throw in the towel? If so, it may have been because you didn’t have a defined set of values to abide by, to guild you through the rough, tough and frustrating times. These rules prevent procrastination and enable you to take consistent, deliberate action - which is exactly what is required to achieve a goal of any lasting value.
Below are 9 discipline principles of highly successful people which you can use to supercharge your efforts towards success.
1. Put Your Personal Health First
Those at the top are obsessed with achieving their goals, but that doesn’t mean they’re willing to compromise their personal health to achieve them. They know that in order to be successful and happy long-term, their health must come first. In order for you to have the energy to pursue those long-term goals, you need to eat healthy, get enough sleep and take regular breaks to clear your mind and keep those creative juices flowing!
When you’re passionate about something, it can be tempting to go all in and compromise your sleep, diet and exercise routine in an effort to save time and get more done. But long-term success is a marathon, not a sprint. So if you exhaust yourself, then you won’t have the stamina required for the long-haul.
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It takes discipline to stay on top of your health and well-being while also pursuing your goals, and studies show that there are a variety of benefits from even moderate levels of exercise which can help push you towards long-term success.
2. Prioritise Your Priorities
What I mean by this is simply to put your priorities ahead of everyone else’s. This may sound selfish but hear me out. All too often our need to be liked and to satisfy other people means that our goals go on the back burner until they eventually burn out! You’re actually on the fast-track to failure when you always put others first.
But here’s the thing – this isn't how to achieve success in life...
... If you do this, and don’t achieve your goals as a result, then you will be left unfulfilled, and anyone that cares about you would never want that for you.
It is you’re responsibly to pursue your goals, nobody else can do it for you. That’s why it is essential that you can draw a line in the sand and learn when to say no – because if you only accommodate others, then you will spread yourself to thin and you will not have the energy or the time to pursue what matters to you.
Remember – if they actually do care, then they will certainly understand!
3. Listen and Learn
Greek Philosopher Epictetus once said:
We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.
Every classroom has one - the person who is more interested in imposing there endless opinions and ad hoc theories to everyone that will listen. These people are often less concerned with learning than getting the last word and proving to the world how… “Smart” they are. In the above quote, Epictetus (1) mentions the importance of listening, because you can’t actually learn anything by listening to yourself speak. It takes discipline to sit quietly and listen carefully to those around you. Those at the top only care about learning and refining their craft, and they do so by reading and listening.
I’ll listen a lot more than I speak in meetings, and I resist the urge to speak just for the sake of it. It is better to only speak when you genuinely have something of value to contribute. By doing so I observed something interesting, I learned when you take this approach, when you do actually say something – people listen to you far more.
4. Eat Your Frog!
Not literally. Eating the frog means you first define what is the largest, most challenging item on your to-do list, then tackling that first thing! It is easy to procrastinate here. You may decide that rather than studying for your exam or preparing for that interview, that those curtains first need ironing! If however, you do decide to tackle that difficult task first, then not only will you get it out of the way sooner, but you will also gain a serious amount of momentum which you can use to press on with other worthwhile tasks.
Additionally, in comparison everything else will seem easier, and you will save a significant amount of mental energy you would have wasted worrying about the task, trying to decide when or how you will do it.
So leave the curtains alone and eat that frog!
5. Avoid Comparing Yourself to Other People
Did you ever compare yourself to someone else in some way, and it pretty much ruined your day as a result? You consider that person to be smarter, stronger and more successful than you could ever hope to be. The problem with this is that no matter how far you progress at something, there will always be someone better at it, so if you relentlessly benchmark yourself against others, then you will never be happy with your progress. This is a bad habit and not how to get self discipline...
... and that approach can actually be downright destructive if you do it too often - because it may even result in you giving up entirely!
When you look at the accomplishments of others, rather than weighing them against your own, instead think about what you can learn from their journey and apply it to your own. Ask yourself how you can reproduce things they’re doing to further your own success, and remember that what works for them may not work for you.
While it’s a fine goal to be the best at something, I believe it’s a better goal to be the absolute best you can be. To be the most successful, smartest, fittest and most importantly – happiest version of yourself that you could possibly be.
6. Measure and Track Your Progress Relentlessly
Many people don’t fail to achieve their goals because of a lack of potential, skills or knowledge, but rather because they failed to establish clear metrics and define a way to measure their progress. They fail because they become side-tracked by secondary activity. After all, how do you know you’re even moving in the right direction if you don’t clearly measure your progress?
By tracking your progress you can clearly see where you’ve succeeded and where you’ve fallen short and need improvement. The approach that works for me is to set daily, weekly and monthly goals, and each of the monthly goals feed into a 1 year plan, and each feed into my overall 5 year plan. This allows me to see the connection with my daily activities (my micro goals) and my overall master plan (my macro goals).
Did you know that just by measuring your progress, that you are far more likely to achieve them? A meta-analysis published by the American Psychological Association (2) concluded that when progress monitoring was increased, this resulted in significantly improved behavioural performance and goal attainment - so get busy tracking your progress today.
7. Use Your Time - Wisely
When considering the value of time, I think Henry David Thoreau said it best (3).
The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.
When you think of it this way, the value of time takes on a whole new meaning. If you decide to watch TV for 4 hours a day, the price you paid was 4 hours of your life, time you can never get back – was it worth it? That is the question I personally ask myself after I do just about anything, because if something isn’t worth the amount of life you paid for it - then you shouldn’t do it.
In the words of Will Smith:
If you're not making someone else's life better, then you're wasting your time.
As your most valuable resource, you must protect you time fiercely. This is because anything worth achieving requires a commitment of time, so do the things which bring your goal towards you first. Don’t let your time slip through your fingers - because you can never get it back.
8. Get the Energy Drainers out of Your Life
You need to be exclusive about who you choose to have in your life, because as famous motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said (4):
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
What he means by this is that the people you spend most of your time with fundamentally shape who you are. They directly impact your attitudes and behaviours and over time you will even begin to think and act like them.
Author Darren Hardy writes in The Compound Effect (5) that according to research by social psychologist Dr. David McClelland of Harvard, the people you habitually associate with determine as much as 95% of your success or failure in life.
That’s why it’s important to keep positive people in your life. That’s because pessimistic people will only leave you feeling discouraged and demoralised, whereas positive people will keep you energized and determined to keep moving forward with your goals. Positive people don’t just tell you what you want to hear though. They can still be realistic and tell you how they feel and where you can improve, in fact that is preferable.
According to a study in the Journal of Consumer Research, "Tell Me What I Did Wrong" (6), novices prefer positive feedback, whereas experts rather negative feedback so they can improve. So it’s good to have honest feedback from supportive people who want you to do better.
9. When You Say You’re Going to Do Something - Do It
It’s a cliché, but talk is cheap and actions really do speak louder than words. Do you know anyone that says they will do this or that - and they never do? It’s this lack of follow-through that you’ll never find in high achievers. They know that in order to gain credibility and trust with others, they must keep their word and do what they said they will – no matter what.
This is the easy part, because when you tell someone you’ll do something, you may feel obligated to do so, as you may feel you’ll be judged or held accountable if you don’t. What’s infinitely more difficult is keeping your word to yourself, because nobody will hold you accountable if you don’t deliver.
For example (perhaps one we can all relate to), you make a promise to yourself that you will get up at 06:00 am and begin exercising at 07:00 am. Then morning rolls around, the alarm goes off and you wonder “why on earth did I think it’s a good idea to exercise so early!?” You make excuses like you didn’t sleep well and getting up early would just effect your work negatively later, so you heroically decide that in order to preserve the quality of your work later - to snooze for several more hours.
Does this sound familiar? If so, then you’ll know that they’re a few problems with the above scenario.
- When you snooze – you mess up your sleep rhythm
- When you do this you’ll actually feel much more tired for the rest of the day
- You actually know that if you did exercise, you would have far more energy for the rest of the day – not less
- You went back on an obligation you made to yourself, and by breaking your word, you start the day off on the wrong foot
- Worst of all – when you consistently break your word to yourself - you form a bad habit which will actually starts to spread into other aspects of your life
High achievers know the value of uploading self-made commitments, because they know that if they continuously put things off or wait until the ideal conditions (which never… ever come by the way), then they will end up behind in their goals and ambitions. So it’s vitally important to take responsibly for your own undertakings and see things through to the end – because no matter how hard it gets, in the end, it’s always worth it.
By reading this how to achieve success in life speech, your one step closer to a more disciplined, successful version of yourself...
... You now know that if you change your health for the better, prioritize your priorities, listen more, tackle that daunting task first, stop comparing yourself to others, start tracking your progress and use your time effectively, remove negative people from your life and uphold the commitments you make to yourself and others ...
... then you’ll be on the fast-track to a more disciplined and successful you in no time!
- Bartleby: "The Golden Sayings of Epictetus", trans. by Hastings Crossley. Vol. II, Part 2. The Harvard Classics.
- American Psychological Association: "Does Monitoring Goal Progress Promote Goal Attainment? A Meta-Analysis of the Experimental Evidence"
- Thoreau-online.org: "Henry Thoreau Quotes"
- Amazon.com: "The Compound Effect"
- JSTOR: "Tell Me What I Did Wrong: Experts Seek and Respond to Negative Feedback"