Stunning Motivation

The Kick You Need in Life

Why Selected Discipline is the Key to Your Success

selected discipline

When we talk about achieving remarkable success in life, one of the most commonly discussed characters is none other than self-discipline. Is it true that we all need to have the discipline to build the success that we want?

Self-discipline may be important, but we cannot solely depend on self-discipline to achieve the success we want. It’s simple, try to think about the word ‘discipline’ for a moment, and what do you see in your mind’s eye?

For most people, they see disciplined people who work extremely hard, no fun, and there is no play around, but only serious work. They imagined people who wake up extremely early and who work long hours.

Does that sound like something that you love to have?

This is why self-discipline is such a difficult character to adopt. We all know that with self-discipline, we can put ourselves to work on things that get us the result we want, but at the same time, we hate it because it means work and no fun at all.

The great news is that success does not require THAT much of discipline.

While it is true that we all need to have SOME discipline to produce an outstanding result in life, we don’t need to have self-discipline ALL the time.

This is because success is about doing the right thing that gets you the result you desire, it is not about doing everything right.

And therefore, you don’t need that much of self-discipline to work 20 hours a day and have no time for leisure or fun.

The truth is that we just need to maintain our self-discipline at the beginning of the work to build habits. When we turned our actions into habits, the actions will then require less discipline, willpower, and motivation to execute.

Think about it, how much motivation do you need to brush your teeth or to tie your shoe? How much discipline do you need to pee or to take bath?

These are your daily habits, and they don’t require much discipline to act on. Hence, in order to create outstanding success in life, you just need to turn your actions into habits.

For example, one of the most important things that a blogger needs to do each day is to write and produce contents for the blog. And what you need to do here is to develop the habit of writing. When writing and chunking out content become your habit, you will never need that much discipline or willpower or motivation to execute.

Habits lower the resistance you need to execute the action. When an act becomes a habit, your resistance to doing it will be lowered. And thus, it will be easier for you to execute and act on it.

Introducing the Concept of Selected Discipline

I love the idea of selected discipline. I first came across this idea from the famous and best-selling book, The One Thing. It is a book that I strongly recommend you read.

This is what Gary Keller, the author of the book says:

“Success is actually a short race – a sprint fueled by discipline just long enough for habit to kick in and take over.”

According to Gary Keller, you don’t need all the discipline in the world to be successful, you just need to put in discipline long enough to grow the action into a habit. And this is where he calls it “selected discipline”.

The idea is about managing your discipline and not getting more of it. An example of someone who applies the concept of selected discipline is Michael Phelps, who holds the all-time records for Olympic gold medals.

In the book, Keller tells the story of how Michael Phelps used selected discipline to overcome ADHD and focus his energy on building the habit of swimming daily:

From age 14 through the Beijing Olympics, Phelp trained seven days a week, 365 days a year. He figured by training on Sundays he got a 52-training-day advantage on the competition. He spent six hours in the water each day. He was able to channel all of his energy into one discipline that developed into one habit–swimming daily.

This is how selected discipline works. You apply all you focus and energy to build the habit that will lead you to success. If you are a blogger, you need to develop the habit of writing. And put selected discipline into building this habit.

Another great example is Stephen King. King is a well-known figure and best-selling authors of many books. He too, harnesses the power of selected discipline to hone his craft and achieve tremendous success in his writing career. In one of King’s best-selling book, On Writing, he says that he writes 10 pages a day, every day no matter what.

This “write 10 pages” a day habit has led King to complete more than 50 novels and also many other short stories.

The same goes for Ernest Hemingway, who is also known for his habit of writing 500 words a day without fail. These writers put in extraordinary focus and discipline into building one habit that leads them to success.

They apply selected discipline, not just discipline on everything. They use their discipline on things that matter most to them.

Jeff Goins, one of the successful bloggers and writers I personally followed, did the same thing. He applied selected discipline to grow the habit of writing 1,000 words a day. He publishes blog posts, write articles on other websites and blogs, and he also writes his own books.

You Need 66 Days of Selected Discipline

Now that you understand how selected discipline works. You just need to use the discipline to grow the habit that will get you the result.

In 1950’s, Maxwell Maltz, a plastic surgeon discovered that it would take his patient about 21 days to get used to seeing their new faces and get used to it. Maltz then published a best-selling book called Psycho-Cybernetics that went on to sell more than 30 million copies.

Maltz’s work has influenced many people including Brian Tracy, Tony Robbins, and many other personal development gurus, and this is where people started to say and share that it takes a minimum of 21 days to form a new habit, which is not really true.

Until recent years, Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher from University College London published her study and figured out how long it actually takes to form a new habit.

You can read this article to learn more about the story and the research.

Professor Jane Wardle, of University College London, who carried out the study with Dr. Phillippa Lally, says:

“What we found was that it takes 66 days on average for people in our study to acquire a habit.

It varied between individuals, but the finding is that if you do something every day in the same situation, it will become an automatic reaction in response to those situational cues, a habit. It is the first time this has been established.”

Of course, some simple and easier to develop habits require less time to form, while the more complicated habits may take a longer time. Hence, it all depends on what habits you want to form in your life.

However, on average, it takes about 66 days for a habit to form.

This means to say that if you make a New Year’s resolution to exercise or to write 1,000 words a day, you need to provide selected discipline and stick to your plan until at least March 7, only then the habit is likely to stick.

Therefore, if you want to start to develop a new habit today, try to include the 66 days factor into your plan.

If you want to develop the habit of writing 1,000 words a day starting from today, you need to maintain your selected discipline and do it for 66 days consistently until the 4th of July, assuming that today is 30th April.

And by the 4th of July, not only that it is the Independence Day for the US, but also a day you find that your habit is likely to stick.


You can achieve outstanding success like Stephen King and Michael Phelps, but first, you must apply the concept of selected discipline. You focus your energy on a certain area to develop the habits that will get you the success you want.

Do you think that the idea of selected discipline is powerful? So what habits are you going to form? Let me know in the comment section below.

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About Shawn Lim

I'm a blogger, writer, and also an internet entrepreneur. If you want to learn more about me, kindly go to the About page. By the way, have you downloaded your FREE copy of Active Goal Setting? Don't forget to do so. :)

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