Some people seem to have been born with a self-discipline gene that brings success and happiness, while others don’t appear as lucky. But that kind of willpower isn’t something we come into the world with, says Rory Vaden, a self-discipline strategist and co-founder of international training company Southwestern Consulting.
“People make excuses like, ‘I don’t have an iron will’ or ‘It’s not in my DNA,’ says Vaden, the author of “Take the Stairs: 7 Steps to Achieving True Success.”
Self-discipline isn’t the problem. “Procrastination is the problem. Self-discipline is the remedy,” he says. “It’s really not that difficult — but there are no shortcuts.”
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Shortcut thinking is what gets people into trouble in the first place, which was the thinking behind Vaden’s book title.
“Do we take the stairs, or the elevator? Easy, short-term choices lead to difficult long-term solutions,” he says. “Problems that are procrastinated only amplify. A good example is a health problem. If you ignore it, it compounds until you’re so out of shape it seems hopeless. It’s the same with relationships: Any conflict that’s ignored builds until everything explodes.”
The three types of procrastination, according to Vaden
Classic: constantly delaying what we should be doing
Creative avoidance: filling the day with menial work and avoiding the important things
Priority dilution: allowing distractions and interruptions to take priority over important tasks
Get it done
To strengthen your self-discipline muscle, Vaden suggests arming yourself with the following:
Relentless determination: “Every single day, put two things on your to-do list and do them. Until you accomplish those two things, everything is a distraction.”
Inspiration: “People become disengaged because they are uninspired. It’s not a lack of work ethic; it’s a lack of vision. If you have a vision of what you want, it’s context for making a short-term sacrifice.”