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7 Science Based Techniques to Develop a Discipline

Posted by Carole Mahoney on 9/14/17 1:13 PM

Why do so many salespeople know what to do, but very few do what they know? Ok, now who hasn’t asked that question? From sales leader's posts on LinkedIn to the sales managers and salespeople we work with on a daily basis, it has come up a lot lately.

Discipline gets a bad rap, like work gets a bad rap.”Love what you do and you will never work a day in your life.” is quoted by everyone looking to only “work” 4 hours a week.

And I can certainly see how discipline gets it’s negative “military style” connotation. It's very definition means to; "train (someone) to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience." Sounds like fun doesn’t it?

Maybe it was the blue collar, Irish/Polish family of entrepreneurs I grew up in, but I always thought of discipline and work as good things. Without work and discipline, the good things you want to create in your life don’t happen.

Better discipline, self control, and willpower are things we all struggle to improve on, in in all aspects of our lives. Driving safe , eating right, exercising, not drinking too much, quitting smoking, keeping our tempers, paying bills on time, staying in touch with friends and family, doing what we said we would- all require disciplines that if not maintained create negative consequences as a punishment. Like hurting yourself and others, getting fat, getting cancer, losing good credit, or being lonely and mistrusted.

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We need disciplines to be happy and successful. What I have learned is that to create and maintain the disciplines, we have to create the right environments, both internally and externally. Here’s what I mean.

1- Get rid of all the negativity.

And I mean all of it. Without optimism you can’t achieve your goals because you are unlikely to stick to adapting the behaviors and changes needed create a discipline, and find a way to enjoy the work. Click here to read about the research on the data and science behind that.

It’s not just the thoughts in your head, it’s the conversations and the people around you. If there are people in your life who spend the majority of the time complaining about their life, but not doing anything about it, then it might be time to distance yourself from them. It’s hard enough fighting your own negative thoughts, never mind having someone else’s dumped on you.

2- Never stop digging to find the why behind your goals.

Digging into your goals and WHY are crucial to developing discipline. (Click here to read the science behind how that works).

But it seems that some believe when you find your magical why then suddenly everything will fall into place. So they wait to do anything until they uncover their why, not realizing that the act of doing something will help them uncover it. And after 40+ years on Earth, I am still learning why I am here and meant to do. Aren’t we all? I may know right now, today what my purpose is and why I am doing what I do, but that doesn’t mean it won’t change and evolve, just like I will.

Also, research suggests that regular reflection of your why and reminders of what motivates you will also help you to refuel your willpower when you feel like it is low.

3- One thing at a time.

Speaking of goals, when you are trying to develop a new discipline, focus on one at time. Don’t turn everything in your life upside down at once. Just like multitasking, exerting will power on multiple things at once makes you less effective. Instead, focus on one at a time. When it becomes habit you don’t need spend willpower to decide to do it. That frees you up focus on the next discipline to create.

4- Take care of yourself.

There is a lot of research that shows how our mental state and the physical state are cause and effect for each other. Regarding willpower and self control, research suggests that using our willpower to physically exercise leads to and more and stronger willpower that impacts almost all other areas of our lives. So get yourself into an exercise routine, start small and step it up in increments from there. (After you check with your doctor of course.)

5- Remove anything that isn’t supportive or is a temptation.

Have you ever tried to change a habit by avoiding it? This is why my husband has to sneak and hide candy into the house, I don’t want to know it is there. When I wanted to watch less TV, I canceled cable. Research shows that “out of sight, out of mind” is one way to avoid temptation.

6- Have contingency plans for when you are forced into other environments.

Psychologists call “if-then” statements “implementation intentions”. For example, when I am traveling and wanting to eat healthy, I look at local restaurant menus ahead of time that have things I can eat so if someone wants to meet up, I have a few ideas of where to go.

Research shows that “if-then” statements and strategies do improve self-control, even if your willpower is low from a recent temptation. Just having a plan in place ahead of time makes it easier to make the right choice when tempted without having to draw on your willpower.

7- If you don’t use it, you'll lose it.

Researchers suggest that discipline and willpower are like muscles, when you exercise them it can be painful in the short term. But the more regularly use them, the easier, and stronger, they get in the long term.

Bottom-line, people discount the impact developing disciplines has on success far too much, perhaps because of the negative rep it gets. No one wants to think about the negative consequences. But if we are focused on our goals, our why of that goal, some self monitoring, and lots of practice, we can develop disciplines and strong willpower.

For more help developing your discipline, check out our recordings from the #livesaleslab by clicking below.

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Topics: sales coaching, sales development