What is Discipline for Your Mindset – In 5 Easy Steps to more Success ✅ 1

What is Discipline for Your Mindset – In 5 Easy Steps to Greatness ✅

By Hoffi • Updated on July 05, 2019

What is a discipline for you? There has been a lot of research on discipline in recent years. In this article, you will discover what discipline is, why its important for success and concrete techniques with which you can learn it. Should be worth it if you would ask your procrastination 😁

Researchers have long agreed that discipline is a particularly important success factor. It is not talent, intelligence or education that leads to success, but this discipline. The good news is that although self-discipline is difficult, it can be learned…

Discipline: Not easy, but important!

Even the word sounds unappealingly sharp. Because nobody likes that, one stumbles in books for it all the more regularly over advice of the type:

Do what you love – and money and success will follow.

That sounds much better. Unfortunately, this is only the Readers Digest version of classic wisdom of success. An excerpt. The complete version is something like this:

Do what you love, work hard, very hard, be passionate, be purposeful, be open to new things, engage yourself, more than required, be disciplined, persistent, persevere and work really hard, even a little harder – and then, one day, money and success will follow you.

The message is not particularly popular, but it is no less true: No one does great things without hard work and discipline.

The tale of the easy, fast way from dishwasher to millionaire is usually just that: a tale. A dream that is often illustrated by people who are already millionaires.

What is ignored, however, are the many hard years of discipline, courage, deprivation, defeat, and continued commitment and perseverance before that.

iceberg challenge

Talents are often not distributed so unequally – the differences lie in diligence, stamina and discipline.

Do you know the 40 percent rule of the Navy Seals, for example? It reads:

If you think you can’t do it anymore, you’ve only reached 40 percent of your performance. It’s not your physical fitness that counts, but your mental fitness.

And what is meant here is above all self-discipline. So it’s not a foreign determination, but rather a form of conscious self-regulation and self-control.

What is a Discipline for Your Mindset – 5 Steps to More Discipline - 4 laws

The dangers of self-discipline

Keeping discipline, being good at one’s job – but that also carries a danger that hardly anyone has on the radar. For example, scientists around Christy Koval from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business were able to prove that they were good: Although self-discipline has many advantages, those affected also suffer considerably from their own competence.

Such people are instinctively expected to meet higher standards (by others). And last but not least, self-disciplined and self-reflected people place enormous demands on themselves. It is precisely because they are so disciplined that they work more and harder than others and often like to exploit themselves – even to the point of burnout.

Because of the discipline, they continue to work hard, even beyond their own borders. As with so many things, self-discipline also depends on a healthy level!

Discipline is more important for success than intelligence

Angela Duckworth and Martin Seligman from the University of Pennsylvania came to the conclusion that discipline is often more important for success than intelligence quotient (IQ).

In 2005, US psychologists examined a group of 300 adolescents between the ages of 13 and 14. In a first test, they tested how well students were able to follow rules, adapt their behavior, and suppress impulsive responses. (The study)

Result: Those who were able to do this achieved significantly better marks half a year later, were absent less often and improved their performance more than their classmates.

In a second test, the researchers compared this finding by having the students take various additional intelligence tests.

Result: none. The IQ had at best half as much influence on the children’s results as the discipline.

Even more:. Tests with students showed that those who were prepared to forego short-term pleasures (parties, chilling out, etc.) in order to torment themselves instead for the long-term goal of successful studies achieved their academic goals within each semester.

Not so the more intelligent, but less disciplined fellow students: They failed more often.

So a high IQ says absolutely nothing about whether someone has a good university degree. More decisive are willpower (called volition in technical jargon) and stamina – or in short: discipline.

Rewards can harm the discipline

It is a tried and tested method: if there is a lack of discipline, a reward is offered in order to persevere. This does not have to be monetary, but can take many different forms – as long as it is a positive incentive. However, this ignores the fact that rewards only have a short-term effect. In the long run, they do not promote discipline, but even damage it.

In the beginning everything seems to be going well. The reward motivates you to bite through and work hard to achieve the goal and earn the reward. However, this should not be confused with actual discipline. As soon as the reward is gone, your motivation and discipline will be done.

So, in the long run, you would need more and more rewards, and even more and more rewards, which cannot be put into practice. It is better to work immediately on your own discipline and not to fight from one reward to the next.

The Marshmallow Test: Discipline and Patience

The fact that intelligence says far less about later success than discipline is reminiscent of the so-called marshmallow test, which has become one of the classics in social psychology.

Its result is – in short – that the ability to self-control, the so-called gratification renunciation, is an essential success criterion and this is already revealed in childhood.

At that time, in 1968, scientists around the psychologist Walter Mischel presented a group of preschoolers with a bag of marshmallows (hence the name of the test) and the choice:

Either you eat the candy immediately – or you wait until the test leader comes back and then get a second treat.

Here is a video of the marshmallow test in the background

(That should brighten your day 😊)


As in the video above, some of the children immediately took advantage, but the majority waited – with astonishing consequences: The experiment (PDF) was by no means over: around 14 years later, the same pupils were examined again, the result being the same:

  • The patient of them had matured into self-confident, socially competent personalities, were able to deal with setbacks and were able to postpone a reward if it served their goals.
  • The impatient instant eaters, on the other hand, were more insecure, indecisive, envious, and also – regardless of their intelligence – did worse at school.

In short, the ability to forgo gratification, or rather to postpone rewards, patience, and self-discipline, was and is a hallmark of strong, successful characters.

Former Harvard professor Daniel Goleman, who wrote a bestseller on emotional intelligence in the mid-1990s, takes the same line. His thesis:

Success requires more than a high intelligence quotient. At best, it is 20 percent responsible for success and happiness in life. On the other hand, those who can deal wisely with their feelings and desires, practice patience and wait will make it further in life than the most brilliant belly man.

Criticism of the marshmallow test

Celeste Kidd from the University of Rochester noticed a few years ago in a home for homeless families in Santa Ana, California, that the children there would swallow all the marshmallows immediately – out of sheer misery. For example, if (young) people feel that they always miss out or that something is taken away from them, they make a rational decision with their supposed impatience.

In her subsequent study, she came to the conclusion that the ability to forego gratification is also strongly influenced by the (social) environment and how reliable this environment is.

Self-discipline: That's how it works!

The good news is that discipline is not something that is innate or not – it is based solely on willpower. And it can be trained.

But before that, there is important self-knowledge: We have the power over ourselves and over changing things.

In Anglo-Saxon there is a nice bon mot or better said a question:

Who is driving the bus?

Quite a few leave it to others – even if it is only the proverbial inner pig – to pursue goals. Only not their own.

Those who really want something (themselves) will find ways; those who do not want something will find reasons. And makes room in his driver’s seat for chauffeurs, excuses, circumstances…

There are many examples of highly disciplined people. All those who do sports every morning, hold on to their goals despite difficult circumstances and overcome all hurdles with self-discipline. As a normal person, you ask yourself: How do they do that? How do these people motivate themselves?

You think guilty of all the times you turned around in bed instead of putting on your running shoes and going jogging before work. The guilty conscience is followed by excuses: bad weather, no time to do too much… Instead of showing discipline, one talks oneself through one’s own behaviour: I can’t help it at the moment. But next time I will definitely do it…

Some also try to persuade themselves that self-discipline is boring and spoils the fun. But if you are honest, you have to admit that postponing and avoiding tasks doesn’t make you happier either. Especially not in the long run.

The tasks still don’t get done on their own. And then they also ghost somewhere in the back of your mind and give the current occupation a bland aftertaste.

Of course, failing at a task is not a children’s birthday either, which is why many people avoid the challenges that require discipline right from the start.

You can do that, but it leads nowhere. What distinguishes the successful from the rest is that they continue anyway. No matter how difficult the discipline may be.

Example Abraham Lincoln. He is not only one of the most revered presidents of the USA. What is less well known is that he started out as a crushed existence…

  • Failed in business at 22.
  • Lost in his election at the age of 23.
  • Failed again in business at 24.
  • Survives with 26 own children.
  • At 27 he had a nervous breakdown.
  • Not elected Speaker of the House at 29.
  • At 31 not elected as Elector.
  • At 34 not elected as Congressman.
  • Not elected again at 39.
  • At 46 not elected as Senator.
  • At 47 not elected as Vice President.
  • Not elected to the Senate at 49.

Lincoln was only elected president at the age of 51. Until then he alone survived these twelve defeats. Most people would probably have buried their political careers much earlier and would have disappeared from the public stage. But Lincoln went on, showed discipline and made it into the history books.

Self-deception instead of self-discipline

Self-discipline is one thing, temptation another: An essential way to more self-control is to strictly avoid temptations. This is the conclusion of a study by Loran Nordgren of the Kellogg School of Management.

The irony is that people who believe they have a high degree of self-control often expose themselves to more temptations – and eventually succumb to them. In one of the underlying experiments, prospective ex-smokers promptly failed to make an animated film (“Coffee and Cigarettes”) or started smoking again after just four months. Classic case of self-deception.

What is a Discipline to Unbelievable Success: 10 tips

The paradox is that many people who are considered to be self-disciplined would not even claim that of themselves. To get up in the morning and go jogging first is as natural for them as brushing their teeth. The way to get there is the real challenge – it is the art to train and outwit the inner pig-dogs.

How does that work? It’s the classic steps how to get other things done:

#1 | Act on your own initiative

Take a step back and ask yourself: Why do I want this at all? Does the wish come from you or is it well-intentioned advice from outside? In order to stay with it permanently, you have to recognize a meaning behind it. It must be your personal wish. Everything else does not work in the long run.

#2 | Set priorities

Decide what is really important and urgent and what still has time or can be delegated. The Eisenhower method is particularly suitable for this. But also the to-do lists.

#3 | Set a specific point in time

If you intend to complete your tax return at some point by the end of the year, then you will probably never do so or at the last minute. The deadline “sometime” leads to postponement. It will be much easier for you to stick to your intentions if you set a specific date – as with Parkinson’s Law.

#4 | Divide large tasks into small ones

It’s like the physical law of inertia: Once a heavy body is in motion, it becomes easier to keep it moving. “Even the longest journey begins with a single step,” is a Chinese proverb. So start with small steps.

#5 | Set yourself realistic goals

Many also fail because they set themselves a goal right from the start that they cannot possibly achieve. If they then realize that they cannot achieve this goal, they give up frustrated. At the beginning, it is better to set yourself small goals, such as running ten minutes a day. Then you will feel good when you have reached these goals.

#6 | Find your rhythm

There are different work phases for each person within one day. The so-called chronobiology is decisive for this. The organism, i.e. metabolism, organ activity, ability to concentrate – everything fluctuates considerably within one day. The early risers (also known as larks) differ in particular: they get up early in the morning and are in top shape immediately. And the late risers (also called owls), who are still brightly awake even in the evening and can concentrate well. These types are independent of the amount of sleep the individual needs. Their individual performance phases are strongly time-delayed. So if possible, do not become active until your personal high performance phase.

#7 | Visualize your goal

Motivation comes from the expectation of a positive feeling, a reward. Keep this clearly in mind. Why are you doing this? What do you treat yourself to after the work is done? For some people it is enough to imagine the goal, others need a picture. Try out what works best for you.

#8 | Find yourself a role model

Only the thought of a person who is self-disciplined promotes one’s own self-discipline. Social psychologist Michelle van Dellen from the University of Georgia and her colleague Rick Hoyle from Duke University have demonstrated this in an experiment. The subjects saw either a person picking up a carrot or a biscuit. Those who saw vegetable eaters were more self-disciplined afterwards.

#9 | Ignore doubters

Surely you know this: A friend or acquaintance was told about his idea and he reacted with skepticism. This will stir up self-doubt, which will shake your motivation. Before you know it, your new project is passé. Arm yourself against it and simply let Nörgler bounce off you.

#10 | Reward yourself for partial successes

In the absence of positive feedback, people tend to give up. On the other hand, appreciation has an enormously positive effect, as Albert Bandura, professor of psychology at Stanford University, for example, proved: “People who are praised are more motivated, set themselves higher goals, feel more committed to them, sometimes even assume better abilities, which in turn improves their performance. So praise and reward yourself for what you have achieved. Because that also unites all the successful: They keep the gap between intention and execution as small as possible – and thus the fun factor large.

And don’t give up. That’s a rush, but there’s no shortcut past it either. As Friedrich Nietzsche said:

Many are persistent with regard to the path they have taken, few with regard to the goal.Click To Tweet

Extra tip: Stick your targets to the fridge door

What always helps (even if it comes across as old-fashioned as the concept of discipline) is to write down one’s goals clearly and visibly. Visible in this case means, for example, sticking the note to the refrigerator door or to the inside door of the toilet. In a way that reminds you again and again what you actually want and why.

Did you like these steps? Will you include them into your day or routine? Or do you have other useful tips from your own transformation? Let us know in the comments. 😇

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I wish you a lot of joy, happiness, and fulfillment on your personal way!

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