5 Key Disciplines for Success in Life and Business
It starts as the perfect day: You awake, eager and ready to go before the alarm can jolt you from sleep, the morning shower offers a bounty of hot water, and the commute is so smooth that you have time to grab a coffee before your first meeting. You feel confident and ready to take on the world as you stride across the lobby and step up to greet the receptionist. This is going well – almost too well.
That’s when disaster strikes: The receptionist looks up from her desktop and smiles apologetically as she explains that no one’s expecting you, and right now your client is in another meeting across town. That sinking feeling creeps into the pit of your stomach as you realize you didn’t confirm the appointment. Your perfect day implodes before your eyes, taking your productivity right along with it.
Life happens and your day (week, month) can fall apart from one simple thing: Not planning to have a plan.
Launching your own gig can leave you feeling cut off from feeling accountable and when you mostly have yourself to rely on, staying on task can feel like slogging knee-deep through a field of Jello.
Self-discipline is tough when there are countless distractions vying for your attention (Netflix bIngefest anyone?). The freedom of being your own boss comes with an essential need for focus and organization. Forget the daily disciplines and the quality of your relationships begins to deteriorate, your content pipeline dries up, and your income takes a nosedive.
Steer clear of self-employment disaster - keep it on task with these essential disciplines:
Start With a Routine and Build Habits
A Routine: Commonsense? Yes. Exciting? Not so much. Crafting habits for success takes dedication. Once you put a consistent rhythm to your day, you’ll find what started as a painstakingly conscious action eventually becomes habit. The more you develop a routine, the less you’ll find yourself scrambling to stay on task. For instance, I have both a morning and evening routine with my work day and side hustle sandwiched in the middle. Find a routine and rhythm that suits your day and put it in to practice consistently. If you struggle to establish a routine, try scheduling your tasks into your calendar. Think of your daily routine as the appointment you keep with yourself.
Prepare in Advance
There’s a saying that says, “Success is where opportunity meets preparation.” Be prepared for your meetings, podcasts, videos, etc. While winging it can sound wildly exhilarating, it is rarely delivers the results you're looking for. Make prep a daily practice and you’ll be ready to hit the road without wondering if you brought the right materials, if the presentation is updated, or if you can remember the name of the VIP you’re meeting with this morning. At a minimum, strive to know your goals for the day, what tactics must happen in the upcoming week, and know a little about any key people you're meeting with. A little preparation beforehand saves a lot of panic, sweat, and disorganization when it’s go-time.
Know your numbers
When you're the boss, your numbers are the ultimate accountability tool. Knowing where you stand in relation to your goals is a priority. What's selling and what isn't? How many prospects are working through your sales funnel? What business can you expect to come in before the end of month? Break down your business into increments of days, weeks, month, and quarter to map out a path to the goal. Leverage any reports your sales platform has to offer and create a daily sales dashboard to monitor your progress throughout the month and to ensure your quarter is on track. Don't forget to “Inspect what you expect.” Stay aware of your goals and progress to keep on target.
Work Your Calendar
Think of your calendar as the hammer in your toolkit. You’ll use it often, it has a multitude of functions, and there’s no substitute for this essential tool (Have you ever tried driving a nail into a wall with stiletto heel?). Proactively schedule meetings and block time for crucial tasks. Put time in your calendar for strategic planning. Remember, you should be doing something, somewhere, every day that moves closer to your goals. A well-kept calendar keeps you accountable to yourself and puts you on track for success.
Do It Anyway
The world is chock-full of distraction. An afternoon ball game may call to you on a sunny Spring day, or you may feel enticed to knock off early and meet friends for happy hour. The pile of content waiting for your attention looms larger and larger, until it begins to block out the sunlight and a heavy sense of oppression fills the room - you feel a growing urge to make a break for it. Don’t do it. When you feel the impulse to slip away, redouble your efforts, stare down those ugly tasks, and own them. Of course, you don’t want to do it – but do it anyway. If you don’t all the unfinished mind-numbing tasks you think you escaped from will come back to haunt you in the form of an even bigger pile of work to attack.
While it's true that distraction is everywhere, beckoning you to stray from your mission, you've got to stay strong. Use these tools to create a strategy that will build a habit of discipline and defeat temptation. Your successful future self will thank you for it.
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