Discipline is quite different than it's partner-in-crime, motivation. But it is perhaps the single most important factor in the equation to success!
Motivation ebbs and flows and can change in a moment, adapting to it's surroundings and external conditions. Discipline, however, is that thing you call upon to climb the toughest mountains - or the tasks you know you must complete but lack the motivation to do so. If you are effective at managing yourself and your own efforts in the world, your discipline will come from within you. It will will call upon your feelings and mood toward a certain task/habit and use them toward achieving that which is important to you. Discipline is a muscle you exercise so that your life can consistently reflect your values; motivation doesn't always have the same follow through...
There are several ways you can exercise your discipline muscles, and many things to be aware of if you wish to improve in this area.
Remove Your Feelings From the Equation
Maybe your goal is to get up each morning at 5 am and workout for an hour. Guess what? That early hour will roll around the next morning and you'll want to hit the snooze button.What's lacking? Motivation!
The biggest impediment to success is that we are all dictated by our feelings and emotions. Instead of seeing reaching our goals as the ultimate prize, we expect to be reward all along the way. And be honest - if you did hit the snooze button once, twice, or three times, wouldn't you finally roll out of bed feeling worse than if you'd simply gotten up despite your feelings?
"Discipline replaces motivation because you show up consistently. The goal is too important to allow feelings to get in the way." - Stephen R. Covey
If you rely on your feelings, you are significantly less inclined to put 100% into that task before you because your actions are being entirely dictated by immediate emotional states. Discipline, in the other hand, will show up time and time again, no matter how you feel in the moment. A disciplined person recognizes that the ultimate goal is the true purpose, therefor it is crucial to remain diligent until the end.
Focus On 1% Gains
Slow and steady wins the race, right? The smaller, gradual and consistent improvements are what ultimately separates those who achieve and those who fall short. These short improvements will lead up to marginal gains and set you apart from the rest. The key is to start small and achievable changes that get you that much closer to your goal.
What Is Your Daily 'Why'?
It is of the utmost importance that you discover the underlying motivation behind the goal you are pursuing. If you lack the compelling reasons to reach your goal, maintaining your discipline will be difficult to near impossible.
"The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to broken."- Samuel Johnson
Something will always come up in day to day life, big or small, that will seem to conspire against you and challenge your resolve. Give in and your success will be squashed; all your efforts will have been in vain. When such moments arise, you'll need a strong desire behind achieving your goals.
Continue to be persistent in the face of fears and adversity by clinging to a strong 'why'. After all, you're worth it and so are your goals!