When Discipline Isn’t the Problem

You don’t lack discipline.


The problem has never been that you lack discipline.


You have all the discipline that you need.


The problem is that you’re not disciplined in the right things.


If you lack the discipline to read, you likely have the discipline to watch TV.

If you lack the discipline to eat a bowl of steamed veggies with dinner, you likely have the discipline to eat a big blow of pasta as a side.

If you lack discipline to be on time for work and show up 15 minutes late every day, it’s because you’re disciplined to leave the house late and stop at Starbucks before getting to work, no matter how long the line is.

If you lack the discipline to get up early, you likely have the discipline to stay up late.

By definition*, Discipline is simply the code of behavior and rules one obeys. If you stay up late as a rule, then as a rule you sleep through your alarm.

*by definition in this context; not to be mistaken for military discipline or disciplining your children.

By stripping any personal level of difficulty and any pretenses to what you need to accomplish to reach your goal, and neither staying up late nor rising early are better. They are different. So, fundamentally, doing one over the other isn’t a lack of discipline, it’s misplaced discipline. It’s your subconscious desire to eat chips, watch TV, get that coffee in the morning that makes you late, and stay up late.



Because those things are easy to you (or whatever your “easy” things are).

The thing is, people will go to great lengths to avoid doing difficult things, and having the discipline to do the thing you don’t want to do is difficult. This is what we know as “discipline:” Doing the right thing even though we don’t want to do it.

But, maintaining your discipline of doing what is “easy” has difficult consequences that will last you a lifetime if you let them.

Failure doesn’t happen in a single day any more than success does. You can’t gain 20 extra pounds in a day any more than you can’t lose it in one.

The good news is that if you can discipline yourself to have bad habits and behaviors, you can discipline yourself to have good ones. Habits and behaviors are proven flexible and highly designable.

How do you discipline yourself to do the things you don’t want to do?

Define Your Desired Outcome


Unless you know what you want to get out of a new discipline, you could just end up swapping one bad discipline for the next. If you want to acquire a new property in the next month, you’ll need to devote time to generating leads, viewing properties, building offers, and securing a contract. But the steps are abstract until you become intentional.

If you reverse engineer the outcome, you’ll better understand what you need to do to make it happen.

“Discipline is the refining fire by which talent becomes ability.” Roy L. Smith


Determine the Necessary Steps


You need to make a plan to guide you from point A to point B with actionable steps.

If you want to lose twenty pounds, you’re going to have to do something different than what you did to gain those twenty pounds. You’re going to have to change your intake disciplines (eating and drinking), and your movement disciplines.

If you’re tired of living in the rut of learning slow, call your cable company and cancel your plan. Then, pile a stack of books on the side table and get cracking. (If you need some recommendations, HERE ARE 5!)

Believing you need to change but not taking any necessary steps to make the change happen is one of the slowest ways to kill your dream. You can continue to believe that “one day” you’ll take the necessary steps, but until you swing your feet over the edge of the couch and get moving, your dreams will remain suffocated by your bad disciplines.

“We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment.” Jim Rohn


Give Yourself Rewards and Consequences


Changing a discipline can be a journey. Our emotions can range from highly motivated to “forget it, I give up!” and everything in between. When setting out to form a new discipline, you’ll do yourself a favor if you first set rewards and consequences in place.

If you think you’re an exception to the rule, I’m here to assure you that you’re not.

I don’t wake every day with a burning desire to check my email. But, I do a lot of work via email, and the discipline to check it and respond at a specific time each day assures others that I’m reliable and trustworthy. By checking and responding to my email daily, I get my communicating done, set the ball in motion for projects, and sign documents that allow work to follow.

Even after you develop good disciplines, it’s not always going to be easy to stick with them. Determine your desired discipline (taking half of your lunch hour every day to make phone calls), then if you promise yourself a reward if you succeed (a good movie on a Friday night if you do this every day for 5 days) and a consequence if you fail (taking 2.5 hours on Saturday morning to get the calls in when you wish you were spending time with your kids).

You can give more weight to short term goals that don’t have immediate outcomes by putting a reward and consequence behind them.

“Without hard work and discipline it is difficult to be a top professional.” Jahangir Khan




Be Prepared for Obstacles and Plan Accordingly


If you’re trying to kick your morning Starbucks discipline in order to save money and get to work on time, you’re more likely to stick with the new discipline if you give yourself a better alternative. So, you get a stainless steel mug and buy a bag of beans to brew at home.

But what happens when you sleep through your alarm and have an urge to just slip through the drive-thru on your way to work when you’re running late? You can prepare by having your favorite creamer and a mug you like at work to spice up the office coffee.

You can’t always plan for things when they go wrong. You can’t anticipate every house that needs additional electrical work you weren’t considering when making a budget for the project. But you can prepare by allowing extra money in the budget for incidentals or having a network of good electricians in your back pocket who can give you a fair quote without hurting your schedule.

If you don’t allow for wiggle room, you could end up swinging the other way hard and fast.


Stay Focused on Your “Why”


There are going to be days when you’re developing good habits and the ease of an old habit scoots in the way and blocks your desire. This is when you pull out your “why.”

Why do you want to accomplish this goal?
What is the accomplishment going to allow you?
A vacation with your family?
The financial ease of paying off a few credit cards or finally zeroing out your student loans?
Are you trying to earn enough to retire your spouse?

By returning your focus to the thing you desire most, you continue to feed your fire with fuel. Visualize your outcome, make a vision board, surround your desk with photos and words that represent your desired goal.


Let’s conclude with the sixth step to turning a bad discipline into a good discipline: Accountability.


If you’ve been with me since the beginning of the year, you probably recall when I asked for your goals during January’s CEO Fireside so we can check up on them.

Few things force you to maintain a good discipline more than accountability. Sometimes it can come in the form of a business partner or a spouse, sometimes you need a coach. For some, you need to make a commitment that coincides with a deadline.

(i.e. “I’m going to attend a Funding Tour to understand HOW to fix and flip a property and get the funds to do it. Then, I’m going to complete my first project before I come back to a specialty lab in five months.”)

Make your commitments known to people who will hold you accountable if you don’t make them a reality.

If you can get an accountability partner–someone in the same field of work who can champion you up and visa versa–then you’re more likely to get things done and show up differently to your work. No accountability partner? Hire a coach! Call us at (800) 473-6051 to learn more about what a coach can do for your career and how to get started.

What do you need to be disciplined in doing? Comment below or send me a tweet at @LeeArnoldSystem . Accountability is key!

Consistent steps in the right direction add up to a giant leap of growth.

To Your Success;

Lee A. Arnold


The Lee Arnold System of Real Estate Investing

Follow me on Twitter: @CogoCapital  and @LeeArnoldSystem 

For our latest success stories, click HERE to read how others are finding, funding, and making money on their deals.

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