Discipline is Exhausting: There's a Better Way to Achieve Your Goals

Sure, discipline has gotten you personal and leadership results, but as with everything else you had to “grit your teeth and bear with”, haven’t you found discipline exhausting?

It consumes every ounce of willpower and drive to start, soldier through, and sustain something hard with discipline alone.

And while “no pain, no gain” gets results, it really puts a damper on “enjoying the journey”. Do the Best in the World (BIW) really rely on discipline, decade in, decade out, to achieve their goals?

Or, is there a way to make consistently delivering desired results less mentally, emotionally, and even physically, tasking?

When you Google the word “discipline”, you get the definition,

“to train someone to obey rules or a code of behavior using punishment to correct disobedience”. Because of the "discipline" many of us received in our formative years, we have come to equate discipline with ‘punishment being imposed on us to correct disobedience’.

Fast-forward to adulthood, when we think of “disciplining” ourselves until we achieve our goals, our minds translate this to “punishing ourselves until we achieve our goals”.

How’s that for daily motivation?

Nobody wants to start off their day with a daily dose of “punishment”. If New Year’s resolutions are anything to go by, we see that this mindset is precisely why only 3% of those that start towards achieving their goals for the year, actually do. Forbes says, most quit by February 1st if they even get that far.

If this is you, you’re in good company. Yours truly has had several revolving goals that roll over each year at precisely 11:59 pm, December 31st.

That was until I learned that there is something more effective than discipline to achieve goals.

And that’s leverage. “Leverage” is defined as,

“use (something) to maximum advantage”


“the advantage gained by the use of a lever”.

Leverage, rather than discipline will help you start, sustain the effort, and achieve your goals.

Here are 3 ways to Leverage something else to achieve your goals:

1. Combine Let’s say you want to develop your leadership through reading a relevant book for an hour each day, but feel that you don’t have the time to.

You can combine reading with another activity you do daily to take the time to get in the much-needed learning.

For example, rather than a hard copy, opt for an audiobook, which you can play while getting ready in the morning or during your commute.

Or, if audios are not your thing, always have a book in your bag to read during breaks, or while waiting in line.

2. Condense

If your goal is to boost daily productivity so that you can leave work at 5 pm (and have the energy to have a life after 5 pm), you can leverage technology to help you be more present and effective at each activity throughout your day.

As far as you can, take back your day by keeping your daily activities short and effective.

1. Allocate different days and times of day for different activities to become even more productive.

2. Remove notifications and sounds from your phone and computer to lessen distractions so that you can focus on what you are doing at any one time.

3. Even go as far as setting daily time limits on social media apps on your phone, giving it permission to close the app and shut you off any further noseying, I mean, browsing.

4. To get real rest at night, set your "sleep" and "wake-up" time so your phone rests when you do, only allowing it to wake up and reach out to you at the time you set it to in the morning.

3. Clear Your greatest leverage is your support system.

Leverage the people around you to achieve results.

What if, for instance, a senior management leader's goal was to brief the Executive Committee, Group Division, and Clients daily, this being on top of their usual daily load?

How would one person do it all? They wouldn't.

Instead, they would line up people with the knowledge, skills, attitude to help them.

Here’s how you leverage your support system:

1. Determine what is core for you to do and do it. There are some things that cannot be delegated, like your personal report to superiors or, your date with your spouse.

2. Delegate everything else another can do at even 70% capacity. Even if their style is different as long as you have equipped and empowered them to deliver results, let them.

3. Delay anything that can be rescheduled. If it’s important but not urgent, and you choose not to delegate it, postpone it to another time. Being mindful of managing relationships and others’ expectations before you do.

4. Delete. There are professional and personal pursuits that can derail you from your destination.

No amount of discipline can help you when you deal with things you had no business signing up for in the first place.

There is power in being clear about your purpose and priorities, and having the courage to protect your time and energy in their pursuit.

If it’s pulling you away from achieving your goals, D.E.L.E.T.E. it.

Discipline alone won't cut it. To have the staying power to be in it to win it, and enjoy life while at it, the Best in the World leverage, time, energy, technology, and people to achieve their goals.

What tips and tools can you recommend to help us crush our goals?


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