Question: I have some less-than-desirable habits that I’d like to change. I’ve tried before but somehow I run out of gas. Is there a secret to gaining self-discipline?
Answer: Welcome to the club. Like everyone else, we entrepreneurs have things we’d like to change about our lives. Our challenge is to make certain that our bad habits don’t get in the way of our success. Obviously some habits are of more concern than others. Gambling, drugs, alcohol, infidelity – these are issues that can prevent or destroy success. Getting professional help to solve them may be the right move. But there are other habits that we can deal with. Do you want to exercise more or quit smoking? How about losing weight or even something as simple as not interrupting someone else when they are talking?
I wish I could tell you that the answer is simple, and actually . . . it is. What it all boils down to is making a choice. We fail so often at changing things in our lives because we aren’t ready to make the “once-and-for-all” choice. I enjoyed smoking pipes and cigars for many years but one day more than eleven years ago I decided that it would be healthier not to smoke. So I quit cold turkey. I was just ready to make the “once-and-for-all” choice. Something clicked for me. It was a realization that I was having a ball living my life and my smoking habit might someday interrupt all that fun – as in my early demise.
Until we have the epiphany that results in a “once-and-for-all” choice, we’ll never eliminate the bad habit we want to break or launch that great new habit we want to start. Becoming self-disciplined is a process. As entrepreneurs we know that much of the success in our businesses comes through a dedication to process. Start this process by taking inventory. If there are habits you’d like to eliminate (or good habits you want to start), make a list of them. Decide which is most important and focus on it only. As the saying goes, the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. If you try to tackle everything at once it may be an overwhelming experience. Think hard about what you expect to gain from making the change you want to make. Write down everything that comes to mind. When the “aha moment” arrives you’ll know you are ready to make the change. If you try to force yourself to become more self-disciplined it is likely that you’ll be frustrated when this approach doesn’t work. Only when that “aha” spark occurs will you make the “once-and-for-all” choice. And then the change that happens will be permanent.
This blog is being written in tandem with my book, An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By, available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.