One of the most important traits I see in successful entrepreneurs is discipline. I’m talking about doing things in life that move you towards your goals, even when you don’t feel like it!
There will be MANY days on your journey where you just don’t feel like doing the things you know you need to do; whether it’s eating healthy, exercising, etc. Small disciplined things you do daily will turn into massive momentum over time. You have to make non-negotiable things in your life and stick to them!
I am a crazy disciplined person today, but I wasn’t always that way. In fact, growing up I never really liked school. High school was a great experience for me ONLY because of the social aspects! When I got to college I had the TIME OF MY LIFE on the social scene. Sure there was school that I wasn’t disciplined in (meaning I didn’t go to class much because I didn’t see the point of half my classes), but I lived for anything to do with hanging out with my friends and meeting new people! I started college at Oklahoma State University as a fashion merchandising major. I thought, well, I love to shop and look for clothes so this will be great for me! My first class was about textiles (soooo boring and honestly hard)! I was like, ok, not for me!
I was also one of those students who had a hard time sitting in class and listening. Today, I would’ve probably be diagnosed with ADD, but that wasn’t as common a diagnosis back then. I couldn’t ever concentrate and was bored most of the time, so I was usually writing notes to my friends. Thank goodness we didn’t have cell phones then or I never would have made it with that distraction!
Thankfully, God gave me the skills to study an hour before tests and make a solid B. I wouldn’t retain any of the information, but I could just cram, take the test and make a B, sometimes a C, and I was totally happy with that!
DISCLAIMER: THIS IS NOT A GOOD STRATEGY! PLEASE DON’T FOLLOW THIS MODEL IF YOU ARE GOING TO COLLEGE (I’M TALKING TO MY OWN KIDS NOW!).
I went on to pick public relations as my major because I had a professor share in class that in the PR/Marketing industry it’s more about who you know and your experience than your grades in school. WHAT?! I felt like I hit the jackpot! I met someone new everywhere I went, and it’s not like I was scared of hard work, I just wasn’t good at sitting in a quiet classroom staring at a white board! I learned I could get a Bachelor of Arts and avoid all of those math and science classes. HECK YESSS!!!!
That’s when I started going to class and getting excited and actually enjoyed what I was learning! Marketing and PR were so fascinating to me. The best products and services don’t win! The products and services that are MARKETED THE BEST win! Even if they aren’t even the best!
During college, I hadn’t developed many disciplines. Even though I eventually started enjoying what I was learning, I wasn’t the best at going to class because there was always something more exciting to do. I exercised inconsistently and ate whatever I wanted (living in the sorority house meant there weren’t many healthy eating options).
I graduated college and got a great job at the largest advertising agency in the state as the media assistant. I remember thinking THEY PICKED ME! The girl without the best grades, but I did have a great internship from the local Fox TV station, I was willing to work hard, and I felt really good about my interviewing skills. I remember calling my dad and saying, “Dad, they are paying me $17,000 a year! Can you believe it?” My dad, an accountant by trade, had gone on to become an insurance agent at the time. So he definitely knew his numbers. His response? “Well, I’m proud of you! But I think you could maybe get food stamps with only that much coming in…”
You see, accounting majors get out of school and make A LOT more than marketing/PR majors. I was fortunate to have my dad pay for my college and pay for my living expenses while I was going to school. I did have a job every summer from the time I was 15, but I didn’t have to work while going to school. The best thing my dad ever did for me was cut me off the day I graduated college. He said, ok, now it’s on you! I said, what do I do if I can’t pay my gas (I drove a Honda CRX that was literally $10 to fill up at the time) or I want to buy clothes? He said, I guess you’ll have to budget! YIKES! That was the fire I needed to start busting my tail at work.
I worked 12-hour days and many weekends, with no overtime pay. We had pagers back then and my boss, who was about 4’9” and 100 lbs, was the SCARIEST WOMAN I HAD EVER MET. Her name was Peggy and she was probably in her 60’s. She was a powerhouse and the VP of the media department I worked in. She would page me on the weekends to come help her put media packets together. It seemed like as soon as I was out and about with my friends I’d get paged and have to drop whatever I was doing to meet her at the office. It was a fast-paced agency (think Devil Wears Prada) and only the tough survived. After only six months, I got a $2,000 raise! I remember being so excited to call my dad and tell him! No one got raises that quickly! I ended up going on and working different jobs and working my way up to make a good living, but I definitely had to put my time in to make good money. I credit my discipline to working that crazy job as my first out of college. I had to be extremely disciplined to succeed.
The other discipline I learned quickly was in regards to my health. My mom always instilled in me the importance of being healthy and working out every day. Working out was very important to me, but I didn’t have time to do it in the evening because I never knew when I was going to get off work-maybe 6pm, maybe 8pm-it just depended when Peggy was going home.
During my time at that agency, I met a guy named Ted, to this day one of the funniest people I’ve ever known. He introduced me to spin class, and I’d meet him at the gym every morning at 6am to get our workout in. I never felt better! That was the beginning of my fitness journey and working out in the early morning! Now I get up at 4:30am everyday to hit a 5am workout 5 times a week! I have done this consistently for 20 YEARS! And this discipline has spilled over into other areas of my life. How you start your day is how you finish your day. Working out has been great for my health, I’ve been able to maintain my high school weight AND most importantly it gives me the mental clarity I need to have a successful day!
I also follow a pretty strict meal plan to make sure I get all of the protein, carbs and fats I need to feel and look my best! People at the office make fun of me because I literally eat the SAME THING EVERY DAY and I love it! I am so busy I like not having to think about what I’m going to eat. Now, don’t get me wrong, on the weekends and when I go out to eat, I spice it up, but during the week my workouts and my meal plan are extremely disciplined.
Do I have days I don’t feel like working out? YES!
Do I have days I feel like eating pizza and chips and queso? YES!
Do I have days I don’t feel like coaching a client or jumping on a sales call? YES!
But I don’t go by how I feel.
The results I want to achieve are greater than any competing desire I have at the moment. I’m not saying don’t take days off to rest your body or deprive yourself of things like pizza, but plan them into your week! It is a non-negotiable for me to workout everyday Monday – Friday. I often do a workout on Saturday, whether it’s yoga or a run, and Sundays are usually my rest day. I save my cheat meals for the weekends when I’m with family and friends, often eating out.
And work…well sometimes I’m not feeling it, but I have goals, and I won’t reach them if I don’t do something to move the needle EVERY SINGLE DAY! You will not create a million dollar business overnight, but you can get there in nine months! It’s all of the small disciplined things you do daily to get you closer and closer to your goals!
People always say, “I don’t know how you workout at 5am every day!” Well, I didn’t start out wanting to wake up at 5am, but it was the only time I could work out while not interrupting family time and with no other distractions keeping me from going (except sleep!). I’d workout, come home and shower, and then get my kids up to get them ready for school. After it became a habit I started to feel amazing, AND on the mornings I skipped I’d feel tired and sluggish! Exercise was the kick start I needed to get my day going and stay focused all day long! I’ve found if you wait until after work to fit your workout in, you’ll come up with a million excuses NOT to do it! There are also studies showing how people with ADD who workout first thing in the morning are more focused the rest of the day. For the record, I have never been diagnosed with ADD but I am 100% the poster child for it!
I didn’t start out as a morning person, but now it’s my favorite and most productive time of the day! I always get to my office an hour before everyone else gets there so I have quiet time to plan out my day, pray, write, listen to a podcast, record my own podcast or strategize where D2 Branding is going and what’s needed to reach our goals!
First, you have to know where you want to go, what your goals are and be very specific!
For example you might say: I want to lose 10 pounds by summer before my beach vacation. I am going to do this by following my meal plan 90% of the time and working out 4-5x week, non-negotiable!
OR I want to write a book in 2021, so I am going to get up one hour earlier each day to start writing until it is finished, non-negotiable!
OR I want to make $100,000 in 2021, and to do that I know I need to make $8,333 a month. In order to get to $8k a month, I need to have at least 16 clients paying me $500/month. Then you are on a mission to get 16 clients by spending time EVERY day going after these clients. We call it the Dream 100 Sales System. Go after 100 people to land 10 (10% is the average closing rate) but you are above average! So, how do you do that? If you don’t have money for advertising, you do organic outreach on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn to your ideal clients sharing your irresistible offer! It takes discipline! On average you will get 90 no’s for 10 YESSES! Repetition wins, and guess what? After making 100 calls you will get really good at your sales pitch, overcoming objections and telling your brand story! Most people give up after getting two or three no’s! You have to have the discipline to keep going!
I’ve seen lots of people give up after a month of working out consistently because they don’t see crazy results! Fitness and nutrition have to be a part of your lifestyle not a fad for 30 days! And once you start eating healthy, bad food won’t even taste good! You’ll feel sluggish when you do eat bad and may even decide it’s not worth it except for special occasions! My motivation with fitness and nutrition is to be the mom that can still ski, ride bikes, run and workout with my kids and eventually my grandkids!
I honestly believe the discipline in your life in one area carries over to other areas of your life. Most of the entrepreneurs and CEOs I coach get up at 5am and workout to start their day. They also use that early morning (or some late at night) to develop personally, whether it’s reading books or listening to podcasts, to further their education. In the world of marketing, you always have to be learning and evolving to where the market is going. If you are marketing today like you did even 3-5 years ago, you are missing the boat. You have to move where your audience moves!
When I have something to do at work (accounting for example), I block out a time on my calendar to do it and reward myself after. It may sound weird but I negotiate with myself! I’ll say, I’m not getting my nails done until I finish accounting for the month, or I am not going to buy anything until I hit my revenue goal for the month. I put pressure on myself! If I hadn’t put pressure on myself over the years, I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere! Remember when you are your own boss, you can sleep in every day! You can take off early whenever you want, take as much vacation as you want! There’s no one telling you not to, so you have to set goals and create discipline in your life to reach those goals and hold yourself accountable!
Let’s talk social media for a minute. It can be the BIGGEST distraction ever! If I looked at my Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, email or text every time I got a notification, I WOULD NEVER GET ANYTHING ACCOMPLISHED! I have to discipline myself to only check these things at certain times throughout the day! In today’s world, social media can be extremely negative, political, and people are downright hateful to each other! Why get yourself wrapped up in that every day?
I miss the days of looking at everyone’s adorable kids growing up or their amazing vacation pictures! You can start your day down a very negative spiral if you read all of the craziness out there. Republican vs. Democrat, mask vs. no mask. I don’t’ want this negativity affecting my life! And I see people EVERY DAY who are completely controlled by it! Do I love all that is going on? NO! But it doesn’t do me any good to complain about it on social media and get in the vortex of negativity!
Start your day with something positive, read a devotional, listen to a podcast, look at pictures of your last vacation; whatever it is that puts a smile on your face and gets you in the right frame of mind to accomplish your DAY! We’ve all been there, scrolling Facebook or Instagram for 10 minutes while waiting to pick up your kids from an event and the next thing you know, 30 minutes have gone by! What else could you be tuned into that would be productive and improve your life? Be disciplined when it comes to your social media. I think you would be surprised if you knew how much of your time is spent there. I try to look at my social media for fun in the morning and in the evening and keep it during the day for work purposes. Remember I own a marketing agency, and 90% of what we do is on our client’s social media pages.
What about email? I probably get 200 emails a day! You will never get anything done if you stare at your email answering them immediately and putting out fires as they come in! Trust me, I used to do this! I like to cross things off my list, and it drove me crazy to have a bunch of unread emails in my inbox! If I looked at every notification I would never be productive! Be disciplined to set aside time for social media, answering emails, texts, phone calls, etc. That is the only way to be productive and start to accomplish your financial goals!
Starting today, here is what I want you to do:
Write down your goals for 2021. Not a massive list that you will never get to, but 3-4 things you WILL accomplish this year!
Write down the small disciplined things you can do EVERY DAY to reach those goals and schedule them in your day! They are non-negotiables!
Look at these goals and your game plan every day and reward yourself after you reach milestones along the way!
Goal setting is an essential component of discipline because it allows you to focus in on your goals and take intentional steps towards them every day!