This post is an exerpt from my new book, The Craftsman Creative Manifesto. You can get a copy for yourself using the link at the bottom of the page.
Here’s the principle right up front: There are no shortcuts.
How does that make you feel? Excited to do the work? Or down because you were hoping for the quick fix that would change everything for you?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a quick fix, at least one that I’ve found to have long term effects.
Success doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process that takes time and patience. Success looks a lot like Tim Robbins’ character in The Shawshank Redemption. Andy Dufresne is a banker sentenced to life in prison. He spent time every day for over two decades digging away at a hole through solid concrete with a metal spoon.
Then, one day, finally, he breaks through to freedom. He had a singular goal and the patience to work at it until it happened. He didn’t have a time limit, and he didn’t give up.
Success rarely looks like the often talked about “overnight success”.
Success also isn’t going to happen on its own. It’s going to take input from you every day to finally reach it.
So, how do we find and cultivate that discipline that’s required to one day reach the success we desire?
First, we have to realize that discipline is an internal characteristic.
We can be “disciplined” by someone else, but that often has a negative connotation. It works at the moment but makes for a lousy long-term strategy.
No, the kind of discipline we are after has to come from inside. It starts from a strong desire to “make your mark” or “cause a ruckus” or “create value”.
What is it that you want to do? What change do you want to cause in the world? Who do you want to teach? What do you want to create? The desire to do those things is the beginning of the internal discipline required to pull it off.
Then, again, the work isn’t going to do itself. It doesn’t happen on its own, you have to do it. That’s the discipline that has to show up each day when we sit down to do the work.
Second, we can start looking at where in our work and our lives we can start to apply discipline.
I, along with many others, believe that discipline starts with waking up early.
Sometime in January 2017, I decided I wanted to start getting up before 6am. I wanted to get up while it was still dark out and my wife and kids were still asleep.
Since then my average time waking up has gone from 6am to closer to 4:30am. That time in the morning has become SO effective. I look forward to making progress on my personal projects and getting stuff done.
Yes, it means that I have to go to bed earlier, but that’s the choice I’ve made. I decided to trade an hour of binging a TV show at night for an hour of meaningful work in the morning. The output over the last two years has shown how important that decision has been.
Some other places where discipline can inform our decisions and we can find quick improvements:
Fitness – Choosing to work out every day, to be active on a regular basis, to improve your fitness level and feel healthier and more capable in your life.
Diet & Health – Deciding to eat healthy, to find a diet that helps you feel energized and satiated, rather than always needing a “boost” or feeling drained.
Emotional – Deciding to start a meditation or journaling habit and finding ways to take control of your emotions, be more consistent, and less affected by others or external events.
Social – Choosing to focus on those around you and nurturing relationships and conversations rather than spending time with your head down staring at social media.
Knowledge – Committing to reading every day, to find books and articles that will teach and guide you along your path to success.
The important thing to note with all of these areas is that becoming successful is a decision. If you want a great, healthy, fulfilling life it is 100% possible for every single person reading this book. It starts with a decision. Choose discipline, to not let up until you’ve reached your goal.
If you can start forming habits and working towards making them part of who you are – an outward expression of your identity – you can achieve more than you ever thought possible.
It can be easy to think that principles, systems, habits, work, and discipline constrain you.
These principles give you freedom.
The more disciplined you are, the greater success you will realize.
It’s also not too late to start. Ridley Scott directed his first movie at 42 years old. Morgan Freeman started acting at 43. J.K. Rowling was 36 when the first Harry Potter book arrived. Bram Stoker wrote Dracula at age 50. Raymond Chandler published The Big Sleep at 51.
There are countless other examples of artists and creators who started in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and even 60s! It’s never too late to make the choice to change your life through disciplined actions every single day.
The Craftsman Creative values discipline because she knows that no one else is going to do the work but her.
The words aren’t going to write themselves, no one else is going to sing the songs, and no one else is going to care as much about the work. Discipline means you care enough to do that work, every day, no matter how you feel. It means you care more about the work than any excuse you can come up with.
Choose yourself, choose discipline, choose to make the change that you want to see in the world.
If you enjoyed this post, you’ll love my new book written for creatives who are seeking to turn their passion into a business. You can get it for free, just click on the link below!Preorder The Craftsman Creative