There was once a time where I played World of Warcraft upwards of 8-hours a day.
The only time you wouldn't find me glued to the keyboard it is if I had to eat, sleep or go to the toilet. I kept up appearances at uni and still got to the gym a bit, and you can imagine how popular I was with the ladies.
Yeah, but I had epics!
At this point in my life, I had ZERO discipline.
I'm up before 5 am every morning (Sundays included)
I exercise every day and am the strongest and fittest I've ever been.
I can eat one chip from the bag and not crave more (is that a superpower?)
I plan my days down to the minute the night before.
I haven't played a video game in 279 days.
Most of all, I'm legitimately proud of who I am. World of Warcraft Mike was going nowhere. New me will conquer the world.
It took a long time to break down how I actually managed to go from extreme laziness to borderline obsessive discipline.
I strongly believe creating discipline is the key to having anything and everything you want in life and this skill should be the base of any self-improvement program.
Whether you want to lose weight, start a business or climb Mt. Everest - discipline is necessary to succeed.
Here's what I found to be the 3 BIGGEST factors in creating discipline
If you want to be lean and see your abs you have to consume the right foods. Your body is a direct representation of your calorie intake.
Likewise, to develop your discipline muscle you need to start with what you're surrounded by. Your mind and the way you think is a direct representation of the information you consume.
We live in the information age. People are willing to feed you all sorts of lies, sex and click-bait-nonsense to grab your attention.
A major part of developing my own discipline muscle was becoming aware of who had my attention.
What you are feeding yourself is who you will become.
Here are 4 ways you can start feeding your discipline muscle some premium wagyu beef
1. Get the hell off social media (or at least curate it)
Social media is a fake highlight reel of other people trying to make their lives seem better than yours. It ain't healthy.
I used to sit there scrolling down, wishing I had a better body, wishing I had more money, wishing I could be at that beachfront resort with a beautiful woman sipping overpriced margaritas.
Wishing didn't get me very far.
The 2 ways I've managed my own social media consumption.
1. Limit how much I access it.
This could seem odd to you but it works for me so I don't care.
I don't have any social media on my iPhone. If I want to post on Instagram I have to go into the app store, download it, then log in. I can't mindlessly scroll through Twitter or like my great auntie's niece's photo from the Maldives on Facebook.
I have chrome extensions on my laptop which block my Facebook news feed and block all Youtube click baits (side videos, comments, recommended videos).
(no funny dog videos for me)
This all leads to completely intentional use. I have to go through multiple steps to access social media, so there has to actually be a purpose to log in. Otherwise, I've got better things to do.
2. Unfollow anyone who gives me a negative thought.
Did you know you can unfollow someone on Facebook but still be their friend? You just won't see their posts in your feed. Jackpot!
There are so many positive people doing positive things on social media, nobody's got time for average food pics (burgers are okay) or weird Japanese video shares.
You're in control of who you follow on all social media platforms. This gives you the power to curate your feed to provide exactly what you want out of it.
2. Hang out with the right people
We've all heard "you're the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with" before. It's true.
The people you hang out with have an immensely significant impact on your actions, self-beliefs and ambitions.
- Your friends go drinking every weekend? You probably do too.
- Your friends want to start their own businesses? You probably do too.
- Your friends play World of Warcraft? You probably do too.
I'd bet my favourite Lulu Lemon shorts that if you're looking to lose weight, hanging out with a group of friends who eat healthily, go to the gym every morning, sleep well and go for dog walks over boozy brunches will help you reach your goal.
... far more than if you spend time with people who want to drink, eat pizza, watch movies and sleep in all day will.
I've crafted this shift in environment multiple times
in my life.
When I lived in London I wanted to be the best personal trainer ever. Unfortunately, I worked in a big box gym with 42 other coaches and was failing hard. After an intense 3-step interview process I got a new job in a high-end gym... and was blown away. The elite-standard of coaching, high expectations and teamwork forced me to grow like a weed in Spring. If I had to put a number to it I'd say my coaching ability, knowledge and confidence increased by 1538% over the two years I was there.
When I returned home to Sydney I was all alone looking to build my own business. With no idea what to do (and some serious self-doubt) I joined the Authority to Coach Mentorship Program. Suddenly, I was surrounded by 30 other coaches with the same ambition; the supportive environment, expert coaching and common belief caused a definite mindset shift and has led me to where I am today.
You become like those around you. They will either feed your discipline or take it away.
But these people are your friends... that's why you hang out with them...
This step is hard, realising your friends may be the ones holding you back from achieving what you want in life can be a roundhouse kick to the heart. It's not like you have to cut all ties, just ensure you're not letting them negatively influence you anymore.
There are groups, teams, networks, masterminds and people legitimately wanting to help you waiting for you to find them.
3. Consume the right content
I used to spend hours on the Warcraft forums, listen to Warcraft podcasts and read Warcraft strategy guides - you can imagine the impact this had on my thoughts.
My life was Warcraft.
You are what you consume.
Follow lots of vegans and you'll soon be pushing away meat.
Consume lots of personal development content and you'll want to become a millionaire entrepreneur with abs.
Read all of Jamie Oliver's recipe books and you'll become Jamie Oliver (not quite, but you can cook now).
To create discipline you need to be super-specific about who you give your attention.
Fantastic people to follow on social media:
Outstanding books to read:
Own Your Day, Own Your Life by Aubry Marcus
High-Performance Habits by Brendan Burchard
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Principles by Ray Dalio
The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday
Incredible podcasts to listen to:
The School of Greatness
The Tim Ferriss Show
The Body and the Beast
4. Take actions to set up an optimal mindset
Strangely enough, you can also feed yourself with your actions.
Discipline is defined by taking the right action over the wrong action, regardless of environment, circumstances or what Mum says. To ensure you take the right actions here are a few quick hacks you can use.
A. Write out your gratitudes.
The simplest, most underrated practice and the best way to spend 2-minutes of your time. The practice of writing what you're grateful for is a massive booster of self-awareness, it improves your focus and ability to ignore distractions and turns you into a happier person.
B. Set goals.
There's more goal-setting gold a few mouse-scrolls down.
C. Plan out your day.
If discipline is taking right actions, then predetermining those actions the night before (rather than in the heat of the moment) is a good idea. Look at tomorrow and decide when you'll exercise, what and when you'll eat, fill in your meetings, calls and family time. By planning ahead you reduce decision fatigue and ensure your priorities get taken care of.
I try to do these every single day. Before I go to bed at night I'll plan out my next day (to the minute - you don't have to be that strict) and write 3 things I'm grateful for. When I wake up I'll review the plan, go over my goals and write another 3 gratitudes.
When I don't, I have a crap day.
There's a strange addition to all this...
you also consume your own thoughts.
It's a feedback loop.
You consume positive content
-> you think positive thoughts
-> you create positive outcomes
-> you create more discipline
-> you consume more positive content
In contrast, consuming negative content will send this loop into a downward spiral.
Setting up the structures to ensure you keep this loop spiralling upwards is necessary in creating discipline. Everything comes back to what you're taking in. Use this to your advantage.
You are in complete control of what you feed yourself.
You control the people you hang out with, the books you read and what you tell yourself when you wake up in the morning.
Want to create discipline? Start feeding right.
To Start Right Now:
Delete social media from your phone and unfollow the Negative Nancys and Debbie Downers.
Assess who you're hanging out with. What kind of influence are they having on you?
Follow the people, read the books and listen to the podcasts.
Bookend your days with gratitudes and planning.
I've harped on about goals before (like this post) but there's a reason I won't let it lie in peace.
Goals provide you with the meaning of life.
From a goal, you gain purpose for your actions. You have a reason to get out of bed, a reason to choose the salad over fries and a reason to finish a blog post at 11:30 pm when you have to be up early.
You can see how goals and discipline interact.
1. By setting a goal you are committing to a certain amount of disciplined action to achieve it.
2. With disciplined effort, you achieve your goal, which allows you to set another and commit more discipline.
But we are going to go a step further than simple 'goal setting' today (in most cases goals suck anyway).
We are going to create an insanely meaningful vision - a goal on steroids - and push your discipline to new heights.
Let me show you how I use my own insanely meaningful vision to create discipline.
My story is one of crippling self-doubt, close encounters with depression and suicide and terrible body image. I've experienced first hand what the effect of poor physical and mental health does to a man, and how they relate.
My insanely meaningful vision?
"To improve mental wellness world-wide through improving physical health, helping people create purpose and fighting against depression and suicide."
To me, this is the reason I do anything and everything. It's baked into my DNA. If I can even have the smallest impact on this vision my life will be well-lived.
To you, it might not mean as much.
That's because yours should be different. Take mine with a grain of salt, in fact, forget mine and focus on yourself.
1. Name one surface-level goal you have. Ask yourself why it's important to you.
Goal: I want to lose 10kg.
Why: Because I'll be happier.
2. Go again. Ask yourself why the previous why is important.
Why: Because I'll be happier.
2nd Why: Because I have a wife and kids and it's selfish of me to intentionally shorten my life.
3. Repeat a few more times.
You can go through this process many times, following different tangents of goals until you hit a nerve.
When you're able to determine with complete clarity a meaningful vision for your life, discipline becomes a null factor. There's no day where you don't want to move towards your vision.
Why would I leave this article unfinished when it will impact the life of anyone who reads it? That would be selfish of me.
With a vision:
You don't rely on motivation, it gets done.
You don't act against your purpose, it's who you are.
You don't have to ponder decisions, you act.
In creating discipline, a goal won't cut it. You must go deeper.
Creating an insanely meaningful vision isn't easy, it will require some digging, some pain and some confrontational truths.
But once you have it, it's yours to treasure.
Discipline is built upon necessity. With a vision, you uncover a sense of urgency and willingness to act. You create the necessity to make discipline a part of life; anything else goes against your very purpose.
Sadly enough, World of Warcraft didn't fit the vision...
World of Warcraft wasn't a complete waste of time, it shaped how I view the world today. I now see life as a game:
- You have quests to complete.
- You are a character with strengths and weaknesses.
- You can level up to your maximum level.
Success will be directly proportional to how much time and effort you put into the game. The fun part about life though, compared to Warcraft, is that you make the rules.
- YOU CHOOSE which quests you want to complete.
- YOU CHOOSE your character traits - nothing is set in stone.
- YOU'RE IN CONTROL of how high the maximum level is and how fast you want to reach it.
Too many people don't realise this position of power.
You can engineer your own success by making up your own personal rules.
Craig Ballantyne, author of 'The Perfect Day Formula' and arguably the world's most disciplined man, explains how personal rules, rituals and philosophies can change your life.
"Success is simple once you accept how hard it is. It may sound counterintuitive but once you accept how difficult it will be, then and only then will you be mentally willing to accept the challenges that it will require, such as sacrifice, dedication, preparation, planning and perseverance. If you accept these facts then it is a simple process of doing what you must."
"... a simple process of doing what you must..."
Discipline in a nutshell.
Back to rules...
You already follow rules every day. You stop at red lights, wait in lines and follow the 10 Commandments. Doing so allows you to live a stress-free, productive life.
Rules create structure. Structure allows discipline to grow and mature.
It's time to make some rules.
Committing to a series of rules designed to get you to do the things you know you need to do helps you become the person you want to be. Your rules align your actions with your big vision (linking back to the above).
To give you an idea of where to start, here are 6 of my own personal rules.
I don’t consume caffeine after 2pm and no more than 2 days of caffeine in a row.
I’m never late.
I never mindlessly surf the internet or social media.
I never hit snooze.
I will not be the person I don’t want to be. Others cannot pressure me into thoughts or actions which go against my values.
I train with weights at least 3x a week.
I uphold these like the law.
I'm not perfect. Sometimes I find myself breaking the rules, but I know I'm better for trying.
Right now, think about your own ideal self, the person you want to be. What personal rules would you have to abide by to become that person?
If you want to learn more about personal rules, check out this article. 'How Creating Your Own Personal Rules Is The Key To Freedom'.
Like icing on the cake, on top of personal rules, you can sweeten it with your own rules for the game of life.
You choose your character, who you want to be known as, and decide on your traits (developed by what you feed yourself)
You choose the quests you want to undertake and claim the rewards for completing them (your goals and vision).
You level up (advancing goals, jobs, rules and challenges) and consciously decide how powerful you want to become.
Now you have the rules and the structure.
From there you simply play the game.
To repeat Craig, it becomes "a simple process of doing what you must."
Years ago, this meant deleting my World of Warcraft account and chasing something more. As funny as it sounds looking back, this was brutally hard at the time.
It may not be Warcraft for you, but whatever it is will take sacrifice.
Discipline is giving up little comforts today for massive victories in the future.
There's power in discipline. Its ability to change a person is obvious.
The class clown at school who is now the CEO and does ironmans.
The lazy friend found purpose and started a successful business.
The World of Warcraft player who now wants to fight depression.
I believe creating discipline is the key to having anything and everything you want in life.
And it's within your grasp.
This is the level of discipline my clients learn to create through the Power Shift System, a 12-week coaching program designed to help busy men regain control of their health.
If you want more out of life, discipline is a must. I can help you create your own by clicking here.