7 Strategies Entrepreneurs Can Use to Boost Discipline and Execute Effectively

Josiah Humphrey
Jul 24, 2017 · 15 min read
Originally published on http://www.appsterhq.com

And how to avoid the self-help industry’s magical tips, but still be productive

Startup entrepreneurs love to quote Thomas Edison’s famous saying, “success is 1% motivation and 99% perspiration”.

A Word About Motivation

“Motivation” is a quite a strange concept, especially given how we typically relate to it in today’s world.

“Motivation is the force that initiates, guides, and maintains goal-oriented behaviors. It is what causes us to take action, whether to grab a snack to reduce hunger or enroll in college to earn a degree. The forces that lie beneath motivation can be biological, social, emotional, or cognitive in nature.”

Beyond this basic definition there are also a handful of leading theories of motivation, each having different supporters and degrees of confirming evidence.

1. Build Tiny New Habits Strategically

1. Start with an incredibly small habit

  • Motivation ebbs and flows over time (i.e., it gets “fatigued”).
  • Trying to institute a new habit by relying exclusively on willpower will, therefore, fail.
  • Instead, choose a very small, easy-to-accomplish habit that requires little if any motivation to complete.
  • Example: performing 5 pushups every morning (rather than 50)

2. Increase your habit in very small ways

  • “Biting off more than you can chew”, so-to-speak, is destined to lead to failure and disappointment.
  • Instead, embrace the tiny gains approach whereby you make 1% improvements each day/week/month in order to accumulate significant success over time.
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3. As you build up, break habits into chunks

  • As you start gaining momentum you’ll notice that you’re doing lots more each day.
  • To avoid becoming overwhelmed, break your habits into chunks in order to keep them reasonable.
  • Example: Run on the treadmill for 25 minutes in the morning and for another 25 in the evening rather than doing the full 50 minutes in one session.

4. When you slip, get back on track quickly

  • “Missing your habit once, no matter when it occurs, has no measurable impact on your long-term progress. Rather than trying to be perfect, abandon your all-or-nothing mentality, ” adds James.
  • Recognize that every so often you will fail but, the same time, dedicate yourself to getting back on track immediately.
  • The danger comes not from failing once but from failing two times in a row.

5. Be patient. Stick to a pace you can sustain

  • Find the “sweet spot” between laziness/quitting and burnout/being overzealous.
  • The only way to sustain habits long-term is to be dedicated yet patient (a kind of “Rome wasn’t built in a day” approach).
  • Example: Set a goal of attaining slightly fewer new followers on social media than you believe you can attain in a given period of time rather than aiming for an unrealistic objective.

2. Develop a “Growth Mindset”

“In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb.

In a growth mindset, people understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don’t necessarily think everyone’s the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.”

Fixed mindset individuals are generally apprehensive when it comes to receiving criticism and performing challenging tasks at which they might fail.

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1. Learn to hear the inner voice of your fixed mindset:

  • Pay attention to the kinds of things you say to yourself in different types of situations, recognizing when you’re using defeatist language.
  • Examples: “At least nobody will make fun of you if you don’t try”, “You’re not good enough to do this”, “Why did you put yourself in this situation? You knew you didn’t have enough skill!”

2. Realize that you decide how to respond to these thoughts:

  • It’s your choice how you react to the suggestions coming from your fixed mindset.
  • You can choose to accept them as obviously true, as indicating that you’re not worthy or even capable of improvement, or to reconfigure how you think of the current situation, recognizing that you’re being given an opportunity to get out of your comfort zone, to sharpen your abilities, to improve from the insights of others.

3. Talk back to your doubting self with a strong growth mindset:

  • Instead of, “You’d be able to do this easily if you had the talent”, say to yourself, “Anything worth doing well takes effort and perseverance; lots of successful people stumbled along the way”
  • Instead of, “How could they expect me to do any better? This is just the way I am”, say to yourself, “I showed strength and courage here: doing and saying more than I ever have before, showing I can improve”

3. “Hack” Your Social and Physical Environments

  1. Recruit others into your discipline-boosting efforts: Explicitly involving others in your plans to develop new habits makes you statistically more likely to commit to your new ways of behaving (examples: 1, 2, 3). In other words, social pressure can be used to bring about positive change. Explicitly share your goals with friends or co-workers and ask them to hold you accountable if you start veering off the right path (e.g., forcing you to do something embarrassing or undesirable, such as donating to your lease favourite political party or singing karaoke at a bar in front of dozens of strangers). You can also find accountability partners online, using websites like r/ProductivePenPals and r/GetMotivatedBuddies on Reddit as well as apps designed for the purpose.
  2. Make small yet meaningful changes to your workspace: place your cell phone and other distracting technologies in a room different from the one in which you work. Stick post-it notes with messages of positivity around your computer and on your walls. Try using motivational posters to give you that extra “boost” first thing in the morning or toward the end of the day. Keep pictures of loved ones and significant others close to you.

4. Engage in Physical Exercise

  • Decrease stress, anxiety, and depression;
  • Elevate mood;
  • Encourage more restful sleep;
  • Improve memory and other cognitive skills;
  • Enhance creativity and elevate concentration; and
  • Positively impact the brain’s neuroplasticity (i.e., it’s ability to change and develop) (sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)

5. Try Meditation

  • It can boost emotional intelligence, feelings of connectedness, and self-control;
  • It can positively impact the structure of the brain by increasing grey matter and augmenting the volume of brain areas connected to emotional regulation and positive emotions; and
  • It can improve focus, attention, creativity, memory, and the ability to multitask (sources: 1, 2, 3)

6. Get Enough Quality Sleep

  1. Dedicate 30–60 minutes of “downtime” before bed where you put away all electronics and engage in a calming, relaxation-promoting activity such as light reading for pleasure.
  2. Create a comfortable sleeping environment by sleeping on a motion-isolation mattress in a slightly cool (around 65 degrees Fahrenheit) and dark room.
  3. Use apps such as Sleep Cycle and/or wearable technologies like Fitbit or JawBone Up to track your sleep cycles.
  4. Take 10–30 minutes naps during the day whenever you become drowsy and feel your concentration “slipping”; so-called “powernaps” can be extremely helpful in enhancing your productivity by boosting cognitive skills, memory, and focus (sources 1 2 3 4).
  • Ultradian rhythm: your 90–120 minutes brain wave frequency cycles wherein you gradually shift from alert and focus to drowsy and distracted (source)

7. Use Self-Affirmations

  • I’m healthy, strong, and capable!
  • I’ve always managed to figure out difficult situations in the past; I will get through this!
  • My colleagues will be there to support me no matter what!
  • This is an opportunity to learn from my mistakes and to grow; I will improve and come back even stronger next time!

Thanks for reading!

I hope these 7 specific strategies will help you maximize your discipline, be more productive, and more effectively execute on your most important ideas.

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Originally published at http://www.appsterhq.com/

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