Professional athletes are a source of inspiration for many, and some are even considered heroes. Pro athletes spend years of their lives in the spotlight as the world tracks their triumphs and defeats and witnesses the hard work and dedication that go into their craft.
If discipline does not come naturally to you, you may find yourself struggling with sticking to commitments or developing routines and healthy habits. Athletes have a lot to teach us about how to build discipline so that we can achieve our dreams. Here are five tips that can help you build the discipline of an athlete.
- Set small, realistic goals. Building discipline is like building muscle or training for a sport. Straining too hard or shooting too high might be counterproductive and cause long term damage. If you are not a naturally disciplined person, try setting small, manageable goals that are easy to quantify and achieve, then work your way up to bigger ones.
- Create a schedule. Athletes often have rigorous training and practice schedules. It is easiest to stay on task and make steady progress when you are operating from a consistent schedule. Whether you use an app, a calendar or a planner, write out a daily schedule for yourself and give yourself time frames in which to complete a task. During that time, focus only on the task at hand and minimize distractions.
- Take care of your body. Pro athletes teach us that investing in our physical health is extremely important. It is much harder to be mentally disciplined if your physical body is feeling tired, burned out or undernourished. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, exercise, clean food and water so that it is easier to concentrate and stay motivated.
- Celebrate a job well done. Most sports teams celebrate their victories in style. It is important to help your brain associate discipline and hard work with an external or internal reward. If you don’t celebrate your victories, you will find it more difficult to maintain discipline.
- Get support. Every pro athlete has a support team—from teammates to coaches to trainers to agents. An accountability buddy—whether a friend, family member, colleague, or coach—can help you define your routine and stick to it. It is amazing how much motivation can increase when you know someone else is tracking your progress.