Gambling on Discipline

Almost all people who become successful do so because they’re able to develop discipline.  It’s not something they’re born with.  It takes practice.  Consciously doing what needs to be done now, foregoing what you’d like to be doing instead, in order to reach some greater reward later.  This ability to endure minor (and sometimes major) discomfort is not only a prerequisite for success, it’s the basis of capitalism.

So, how to develop this discipline?  Ray Romano, of Everybody Loves Raymond fame, does something interesting, which he calls “mind bets“:

[Mind bets are] a reward and punishment technique he developed to replace his own wagering habit. “I set a personal goal, like, ‘If I don’t break a 90 at golf, then I can’t watch TV for a week,’ and I get as pumped up as if I had $1,000 on a bet,” he said.

It’s a simple way to externalize what you usually keep in your head.  Instead of “I really need to finish X” you can say “Oh man, if I don’t finish X today, I don’t get to watch TV tonight [or eat dinner, or go golfing, or whatever].”

Now, this takes some discipline to actually enforce the bets on yourself (or find someone who’s willing to enforce them on you), but it’s pretty effective.

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