Gareth Fox

Gareth Fox: Self-discipline and the secrets for success

THE difference between success and failure is self-discipline. I regularly work with athletes who really struggle with self-discipline, and when they talk about it I find they have this very interesting belief – that it’s ‘something other people are born with’.

This is not true; no baby is born with discipline, it is something you acquire. It’s like a muscle, the more you work it the better it gets.

Your heroes, your inspirations, your competition are not born with self-discipline, it’s a muscle they grow on a daily basis.


Before you begin any task, you should take a minute to think ‘what do I want? What do I really want?’ And once you know the answer to that, then ask another question, ‘what price would I pay to get what I want?’

When these two answers are clear, then there are certain steps you can take to make sure you achieve what you want:

Step One – You must do what you don’t want to do first:

Successful athletes do what they hate first – athletes with the best results do their workouts first.

You see, if you don’t like doing the thing and say “I’ll do that later,” then the phone rings, and something happens, and suddenly you think, it’s too late now, I’ll do it tomorrow.’ But when you do it first, then it’s done and you’ll feel like a winner.

 If you have to make a very difficult workout and you wait, all day it will hang over your head making you feel bad. But when you do it first, you feel like a winner. So pick the worst jobs and do them first and get them out of the way.

Step Two – Take action every day:

That doesn’t mean train for 10  hours, but even on Saturday and Sunday spend five minutes writing up a vision for your success – because that’s what successful athletes do. 

They don’t have a day off on their way to success. They take action every single day in the direction of their goals, no matter how insignificant that action might be.

Step Three – Delay gratification:

Choose the reward that you want and then place it at the end of several tasks. For example, “I love cappuccinos, a cappuccino is my reward and I’m going to have one after I complete all my morning tasks.”

The big problem we have nowadays is that we take the reward first. “I’m going to do this thing that I love first, and I’ll do all those things that I have to do after…” We take the reward before the work and then no longer feel any motivation or inspiration to do the work.

Step Four – Praise yourself:>f 111<

Criticism withers self-esteem but praise builds it up. It is vital that we understand that all thoughts have physical reactions in the body. Accepting criticism causes the release of cortisol – the stress hormone. Those harsh, hurtful critical words that you say to yourself over and over again are going into your body and having a negative chemical effect. Accepting praise produces the release of endorphins, dopamine and serotonin – the happiness hormones – having a positive chemical effect.

Stop being your own worst critic. You are allowed to make mistakes, but you are not allowed to punish and beat up your own body for being human.

Become alert to how often you criticise yourself – when you do that you are physically and chemically withering your own self-esteem. And don’t wait for others to praise you either. Start praising yourself. Start letting praise in. Make praise familiar and make criticism unfamiliar.

And finally, understand The Dip. The Dip is something we all go through when changing habits – it’s that loss of motivation or discouragement when we lose focus, when we don’t see improvements, when life gets in the way. The dip is completely normal – even predictable – when you’re changing an old habit, or forming a new one.

But remember two very important things; it’s only temporary, and that it is an incredible place of learning. It’s a place where we learn and grow, and get better at facing difficulty.

When things are going well, everything seems easy, and you just have to continue doing the same thing – there isn’t much learning there.

But when things are hard, you have to face the difficulty if you want to keep going, if you want to avoid going to your usual patterns of discouraging yourself or quitting. The dip is where most learning can be found.

Working through the dip is vital for success.

For more information contact@gareth

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