How to Be So Disciplined, It’ll Look Like You Have Superpowers
“World class performers don’t have superpowers. But they’ve crafted rules that make it look that way.” -Tim Ferriss
Most people aren’t disciplined. They can’t say they consistently sit down and do the thing they should be doing.
Of course, just about everyone wants to be disciplined. But for some reason, they just can’t seem to be consistent. Maybe they can start strong and do really good at the beginning…but in the end, their energy dies a slow but sure death.
We’ve all heard stories of great self-discipline and immense self-control. These stories usually involve famous people, tech founders, or professional athletes, who accomplished the impossible and somehow worked hard enough for long enough and eventually signed the $100 million dollar contract.
But most people think that, frankly, those kind people have superpowers. They think those people have something we don’t. They were born with something the rest of us just don’t have. No matter what you do, you just can’t get yourself to do what you need to do. So why bother?
I’m here to tell you: this mindset is garbage. It’s the main reason why most people will remain in mediocrity when they could have complete financial freedom to travel the world, spend time with their family, and be their own boss.
This was me. For 4.5 years, I tried to be a consistent, disciplined writer. I’d watch Gladiator or Braveheart and get real motivated, then crank out some of the most heartfelt articles I could possibly write. But upon seeing that no one read my stuff, I’d give up and quit for months at a time.
I finally decided to become consistent. I started posting every single day. I got more views. I got picked up by some small publications. I built momentum. Bought an online writing course. Built more momentum. Wrote my first “viral” article. Got more disciplined. A year later, I’ve gained:
- 27,000+ email subscribers
- 150,000+ views/month
- A signed book deal
- A full-time personal business from my writing
The only way these were possible were because of my discipline.
Here’s how to become so disciplined, it’ll look like you have superpowers.
Great Power Lies in Doing the Absurd
“When you’re the first person whose beliefs are different from what everyone else believes, you’re basically saying, ‘I’m right, and everyone else is wrong.’ That’s a very unpleasant position to be in. It’s at once exhilarating and at the same time, an invitation to be attacked.” -Larry Ellison
Here’s something that will happen once you start being consistently disciplined:
People will think you’re weird. They might even attack you for it.
You’ll get confused looks and raised eyebrows when you tell people what you do.
- “Wait — you wake up at 5am every day? Even Saturdays? Why?”
- “You don’t drink anymore? Why not?”
- “You’re training for a triathlon? Why?”
- You’re putting 40% of your paychecks into savings? How do you survive?!”
Consistency, being as rare and difficult as it is, scares people when they see it live. It’s awesome. But it also elicits jealousy and resentment. In a way, your ascent highlights their stagnation. Naysayers and their doubts say more about them than about you.
But great power lies in doing the absurd, especially if you think it’s crazy. Never forget, you have grown up in an environment that teaches mediocrity and falling in line. As best-selling author Grant Cardone once wrote:
“Take into account that you have been educated with restrictions. Be aware of this so that you don’t underestimate the possibilities.”
If you want what you’ve never had, you’ll have to do stuff you’ve never done.
The truth is, most people simply don’t believe they can ever get the “celebrity-style” success: hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings, a brand new luxury car, a big home in a really nice neighborhood. They’ve been conditioned to believe this type of success in only reserved for star athletes, rappers, rockstars, and 20-something tech founders who get bought out by Google.
This limiting belief acts kind of like a sheepherding dog: once your thoughts start to expand and wonder, “What if that was possible? What if I could have that life?” the sheepdog comes barking and herding you back into formation with the rest of the sheep. “It’s not possible!” it barks. “Just stay the course! Don’t rock the boat! Someday you’ll finally win, but don’t do anything stupid in the meantime!”
You’ve been educated with enormous limitations. Maybe it was from your family, friends, a college professor, a boss, or just the movies. Frankly, most people focus on fighting for scraps with the other 99%, never truly believing they could get the rewards of the 1%. So they vilify these extraordinary individuals, and criticize anyone who seems to be breaking out of mediocrity and into huge success. They become the sheepdog.
Great power lies in doing the absurd.
When you start to get those confused looks and passive-aggressive “compliments,” you’ll know you’re going the right way.
“It’s lonely at the top. 99% of people are convinced they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for mediocre. The level of competition is thus fiercest for ‘realistic’ goals, paradoxically making them the most competitive.”
How to Be Disciplined When You Don’t Want to Work Your Brain Anymore
Back when I used to work as a telemarketer, the only — only — thing I wanted to do when I got home was crack open a cold bottle of Saint Archer IPA, grab a bag of Tostitos nachos, and turn on Dexter.
And that’d what I did for nearly 2 years.
Every morning, I woke up with dread. I’d be finishing my 2nd cup of coffee as I’d pull into work. I’d drink a total of 6–8 cups of coffee every day (to stay energized) as I spent 8 hours phoning angry people all over the country and try to sell them an online Bachelors degree. Then I’d spend 50 minutes in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the way home, hungry for the beer, chips, and TV.
The last thing I wanted to do when I got home was to use my brain.
This is how many people live their lives. They have big dreams — to start a blog, a fitness coaching business, a life coaching business, a podcast, write a book — but how can they possibly be disciplined after a long day at work? How can you use your brain when you’re so tired from the day?
The answer is simple: take yourself out of the equation.
Make a commitment to perform, and you will.
One of my favorite books of all time is Mindset, by Dr. Carol Dweck. There’s a line she wrote that I always think about:
“Vowing, even intense vowing, is often useless. What works is making a vivid, concrete plan.”
Most people rely on some form of “vowing” to be disciplined. “I will write 3 blog posts this week. I will go to the gym on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. I won’t spend more than $50 on restaurants this week.”
But in almost every case, this is just another way to try and make yourself “feel better,” nothing more. A common behavior of an addict who constantly relapses is intense, grand vows to change after relapsing. Of course, this rarely works — it just gives the addict something to cling to to avoid the shame and real work of making a plan.
Here’s the thing: “you” are tired. “You” will be exhausted, sleepy, and hangry (that’s hungry+angry) when you get home after a long day. The odds of consistently doing what you need to do in this state will be slim.
That’s why you need to take yourself out of the equation. You are fallible; rules are not. Set up good rules, and pretty soon they’ll begin assuring success.
Best-selling author David Kadavy discusses this very problem in his book, The Heart to Start. “When you build a habit, you don’t have to spend mental energy deciding what to do,” he writes. When you design an environment to produce success, you remove all the energy-wasting dilemmas of “Should I go to the gym, or stay home?” You just go to the gym, because that’s what you do.
This is how I finally got “sober” from a 15-year addiction to pornography. I went to counseling, therapy, and support groups. I started following a plan with specific rules: no internet after 9pm. No internet use alone in my room. Make a phone call every day and check in with a friend. No more useless vows — I took myself out of my failing promises and started following a plan.
Pretty soon, I caught on and just started following the rules. I removed myself — my tired, exhausted, cranky self — and lived by the rules.
It worked. I don’t look at porn anymore. I haven’t done that stuff for years. This is how you go from a weak “maybe I’ll do the work?” to a definitive “of course I’ll do the work.”
Make a set of rules, and stick to it.
“If you’re interested, you come up with stories, excuses, reasons, and circumstances about why you can’t or why you won’t. If you’re committed, those go out the window. You do whatever it takes.” -John Assaraf
If You Grew Up in the Low or Middle Class, You Need to Develop an Upper-Class Mindset
“The only way you become a leading man is by treating yourself like a leading man and working you ass off. If you don’t believe in yourself, then how will anyone else believe in you?” -Arnold Schwarzenegger
Statistically speaking, most of us grew up in the low and middle class. We learned the specific behaviors, mindsets, actions, and lifestyles of those around us in our same social class.
But if you want to develop incredible discipline and achieve an upper-class lifestyle, you need to shed the beliefs of the poor and middle class.
When I say “upper class,” I don’t mean those rich snobs who inherited money and spend their parents’ money wrecking cars that cost more than a small house. I don’t mean the greedy 1% who constantly try to distance themselves from the poor and their problems.
What I mean by “upper class” is the kind of people who manage enormous amounts of money, fame, influence, and popularity and consistently make the world a better place with their gift.
The world’s most successful, wealthy, and influential people are extremely disciplined. They aren’t distracted by the cheap entertainment you and I binge on. They hustle, they learn, they work their asses off developing a killer mindset that can handle a high amount of pressure.
In the words of world champion chess player Josh Waitzkin:
“Mental resilience is arguably the most critical trait of a world-class performer, and it should be nurtured continuously.
If left to my own devices, I am always looking for more ways to become more and more psychologically impregnable.
When uncomfortable, my instinct is not to avoid confrontations but to become at peace with it. My instinct is to seek out challenges as opposed to avoiding them.”
Is that your mindset? Do you seek out challenges and focus on building your resiliency?
One of my favorite quotes from best-selling author Darren Hardy is this:
“The key to becoming world-class in your endeavors is to build your performance around world-class routines.”
If you want to have consistent discipline to do what you should do, take a lesson from the world’s top performers. Act like they do. Treat yourself like they treat themselves.
Develop an upper-class mindset, and you’ll start acting like upper-class. Pretty soon, you’ll start seeing upper-class results.
Extraordinary people don’t “manage time.” They make time. They don’t “manage money” or “save money,” they make money. They appear to have superpowers, making deals and accomplishing goals most people would tell you are impossible.
How are you going to do what you’ve never done before: be consistently self-disciplined?
By doing things you’ve never done.
You can have whatever you want if you do whatever it takes. Every level of success starts with discipline; as Navy SEAL Jocko Willink wrote, “Discipline Equals Freedom.”
Take yourself and your laziness out of the equation. Forgot the vows; make a plan, and commit to it.
Start developing an upper-class mindset. Do the things successful people do. Success isn’t complicated; the fundamentals are simple.
The road to developing discipline isn’t easy. Few will stay committed long enough to see the end of the road. But once you commit to discipline, you’ll look like you have superpowers; the people in your life will marvel at your results.