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Do the hardest task first: Since willpower is a finite resource, each task that we do leaves a little less discipline for the next one. To get around this fact, you want to do your most difficult (or least favorite) task first thing. Not only does this save willpower for later, but it also gives you a mental boost knowing that the worst is over, and it’s smooth sailing from now on. Related to this, is the concept of doing the most important task first. In any given day, you will have a to do list, with some high value and some low value items. Do the highest value item first, and push off the low value tasks until later in the day.
Tell yourself a little white lie: Often, the hardest part of doing something is getting started. Once you get going, momentum takes over and you can generally take a task to completion, provided it is not too complex or time consuming. So then the question becomes: how do we get started? I’ve found there is a little hack that makes this easy.
Simply lie to yourself and say that you’re only going to do the task for a few minutes, or that you won’t give 100% effort to it. This is generally enough to get you started, and from there your desire to succeed will take up the slack and make you complete the job. Try this one out a few times, and you will probably be amazed at the results.
Exercise: One common pitfall with self-discipline is the fact that we simply get tired when we push ourselves. This is normal, but it is not conducive to a lifetime of success and achievement. One remedy to this is physical exercise. It doesn’t have to be strenuous, but building endurance and stamina in the gym will yield big benefits in your other endeavors in life. The ability to push past the point of discomfort in the gym will translate into the ability to push past discomfort in pretty much everything else.
If you have difficulty with the discipline to stick to a regime, go ahead and tell yourself a little white lie. It’s OK to fool yourself into thinking you’re only going to get on the treadmill for 5 minutes, and then stay on for a full 30.
Nuke the bridge: Humans are social creatures and respond to peer expectations. We can use this fact to help us build discipline. When you set a goal, announce it. Don’t just announce it to one person, announce it to many. Let everybody know that you are going to do X. More often than not, those people will hold you accountable. You won’t want to be perceived as a quitter, so you will suddenly have the ability to work long hours and get things done. In other words, you have left yourself no other option than to follow through – you’ve burned the bridge to quitting.
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