All the days feel the same when you stay at home due to the national lockdown. It was hard for me for the first couple of days. Because this lockdown is messing up with my life. The gym, Clubs, and Starbucks are closed. My life turned upside down. The first three days were a waste. I played video games all day long. I had problems starting my usual daily routine. As a result, my friend told me that I do not have discipline. Furthermore, this person compared me with him and others. We can do it normally why not you? You have no discipline at all. Well, I did not take it well. He does not respond to me anymore. Anyway, this person was right, I have no discipline in working at home. Because I developed the habit to be productive outside my home. Let me break down why good habits, not discipline, lead to success.
Good Habits, not discipline, lead to success
In my circle, I reinvent my image as a hard-working guy doing everything to reach his dreams. From time to time, I post an image that shows my local Starbucks. In addition, I let my friends know when a blog post is published or any announcement of my online shop. Furthermore, people tend to know that I am every day at Starbucks: “Where are you, Thien?” Starbucks is my general response. With the increasing appearance of success like a new subscriber or new sales, some people are worried or ask for advice.
Some of my friends are worried or moreover, they are afraid that I overwork. Yes, sometimes I cannot sleep. But it does not matter because I have no responsibilities to an employer. This is the advantage of not having a full-time job.
The others are asking how I have the discipline to work every day at this café. I presume they are impressed by it and they want discipline tips. But I can tell you this, I have no discipline at all. Well, in classical form. Instead of reminding myself to work and forcing myself to go there, sit down and work, I turned this ‘discipline’ into a habit.
I developed such a great habit that no matter what I have to sit there and work. When I sit at home for one day, I feel awkward not being at Starbucks. Even on a Sunday afternoon after a party session, my feet lead me to my workplace. People may see it as a discipline. But good Habits, not discipline, lead to success.
A good habit needs less discipline to maintain
I know for sure that if I am at home I cannot work productively enough at Starbucks. Because I have too many distractions and as mentioned before I have no discipline to control myself. My focus at my home desk is nearly zero. And many people are making a serious mistakes at this point. They force themselves to do it. And there are many tutorials and courses on how to maintain your daily life based on discipline. However, doing something you do not like is already a bad approach. But if there is no way around it, we need to turn the activities that lead to our goal into a habit.
In my case, I did one thing. I eliminate everything related to my work from home. This is my habit. Furthermore, I established my home as a place where I can relax and turn off my brain from overworking. And I set up a place, Starbucks, as the only place where I am allowed to work. Because here I cannot play video games or distract myself. Furthermore, every visit comes with a payment of 4,99 Euro for a cup of coffee which I will not let to waste.
Everything starts with discipline, but should not stay forever
At first, I only showed up every Saturday. I founded Productivity-Saturday with some of my friends. Every Saturday we meet up to work and have a lot of fun. This continued for 6 months with the idea in mind that Starbucks is the only place I am allowed to work. After I finally quit my full-time job, I was less worried than expected. Because I know where to go when I want to work on my dreams.
Here is the thing. Once an activity turns into a habit, you do not need any kind of discipline to maintain it. Why would you need to have discipline when you do it without noticing?
All this starts slowly but kicks off really fast once you are into it.
Discipline by itself doesn’t produce results. It’s how you use discipline to train yourself to act or approach things in your life that makes a difference. People that appear to be highly disciplined actually just practice good habits.
66 Days to create a good habit
No matter which activity, Research from the University College of London showed that 66 days is the average time it takes to create a habit. It may seem hard at the beginning. But you will realize that one day you will do something automatically and without any kind of motivation. You will see that going to the gym was such a pain in the ass. But now, it is something totally normal like going to sleep. If you hit this point, you have a habit and no more discipline is needed. Isn’t it beautiful?
A Good Habit is defined by a Definition
When I was younger, I was really into Video Games. Besides studying, video games were my passion. I played all kinds of video games. It started with Pokémon, Street Fighter, and Mario Cart, and developed fast to Computer Games. World of Warcraft, Empire Earth, and Warcraft 3 are my favorite games. This passion slowly turned into an ‘addiction’. I played as much as I could, mostly in secret because my mother did not like it. She argued about why I spent so much time on video games. If she could decide I should spend my passion on something else, sports, or reading meaningful books. By her definition, if I play video games that would mean I have no discipline for the ‘meaningful things of life.
So here comes the question: How do we determine what is meaningful? Why is programming 10 hours per day seen as a good habit? And not as a bad habit like gaming for 10 hours?
Because many people might think video games are of no use for the future. But these people are totally wrong. Here I want to prove to you that video games do have their benefit. First, we learn how to handle bullies in games. People online have an easier way to show their rudeness towards others. Because they can get away easily with it. Gamers are in fact, more social than you might think. Second, our cognitive ability is improved massively. Gamers need a fast reaction time to act, an analytic strategy to beat their opponent, and can do a task more quickly than non-gamers. And third, good gamers can make tons of money.
Based on my argumentation, when a 14-year-old boy plays 10-hour per day to be a professional gamer, is it a well-developed habit? Or is it a bad habit?
Summary – Good Habits, not discipline, lead to success
All in all, many of us have a wrong interpretation of discipline. Disciplined yourself to achieve something is energy-consuming. For example, it is much harder to count your daily calorie intake (discipline) than just switch to drinking only water (habit). When you have a good habit of drinking water and you do it without knowing you do it, you will achieve much more than counting your calories.
I have a negative attitude towards discipline. Because by its definition it forces us to do something. And this is against my ethical moral code. No one has to do something. We all should do what we enjoy the most. And now I finally understand why people should seek passion and pleasure in work so they can keep on working. I could never imagine that this blog is still active after a year. It first started as an idea, then it turns into a habit, and now it is my passion. If I would do it because I discipline myself, and not because of enjoyment, I would have stopped this blog months ago.
To truly achieve something is to turn everything into a habit. When you automatically do something without noticing it, you will reach far more than discipline alone.