The most important skill in fitness

written by Philip Stefanov  |  JANUARY 4, 2022

Happy New Year! May 2022 bring you lots of good moments, fulfillment, and plenty of gains!

As we kick the new year off, I’d like to discuss something that’s been on my mind for a while: discipline. Yes, yes. I know what you’re thinking, “Here’s another dude that’s going to talk about discipline.” That’s fair, but I would like to share my view on why I think that is the case and some actionable tactics you can use.

The Importance of Discipline

Fitness is not something we do for a week, month, or a year - that much is clear. We can’t exercise for a few weeks and expect to achieve extraordinary results and maintain them forever. Fitness is a life-long commitment that requires constant effort from us to work. The moment we step off the gas pedal, progress slows down, and we start moving in the opposite direction.

Having a good training program, the right nutritional approach, and proper recovery habits is essential. But discipline determines your consistency, dedication, and outcomes. Sure, everyone can work hard for a while and make some progress. But few are those who can push themselves hard and stay consistent for years.

In many cases, what separates those who succeed from the countless failures aren’t good genetics, access to better information, or more effective supplements. It’s discipline; the ability to persevere, learn from mistakes, and refine the process to perfection.

Having discipline is also vital for staying in one lane and resisting the temptation of various diets and training plans. The shiny object syndrome is prevalent today and sends countless people down a rabbit hole of endless options.

The problem is that jumping from one approach to the next can’t work because you never give any plan enough time to bring results. Instead, you do something while it feels exciting, get bored, and jump to the next opportunity, never making much progress.

Three Actionable Steps to Develop Discipline

Step 1: Develop the habit of being consistent

Being disciplined means pursuing your goals with persistence. But what many fail to realize is that persistence is a habit. The problem is, we often overwhelm ourselves by committing to too much right from the start, preventing ourselves from being consistent. Instead, we should begin with simple actions that take little effort or discipline.

Do you want to exercise more? Do five minutes per day. Interested in reading more books? Read five or ten pages daily. Looking to shed some fat? Start with one healthy meal per day.

Learn to be consistent in pursuing goals by starting small. Make consistency part of your identity; a vital element of your character, and you will feel much more disciplined down the road.

Step 2: Get uncomfortable

Getting out of your comfort zone is an unavoidable element of building discipline. After all, discipline means doing what you must, regardless of how you feel about it.

Similar to step 1, I recommend starting with something small each day. For example, as you exercise and start feeling tired, push yourself a bit more than you think you can. In doing so, you can examine how you feel in the moment, realize that discomfort is not the end of the world, and build up your confidence.

Getting uncomfortable is by no means pleasant but learning to be okay with these feelings is an integral part of self-discipline. Not everything will or should feel pleasurable all the time. Sometimes, the best rewards come from getting it done despite not feeling like it.

Step 3: Direct the focus to others

Many people fail to be disciplined in a particular pursuit because they don’t see the big picture. For example, a person starts dieting, makes some progress, but gives up after a while because of discomfort. That’s fair. But what if there was a way to avoid the possibility of failure?

Directing the focus to others means seeing how being disciplined can help others. For example, many people work jobs they don’t like because they have to support others. The discipline to do so comes naturally because there is a clear link.

The link between discipline for self-improvement and the well-being of others might not be as clear, but this doesn’t mean it isn’t there. For instance, getting fit can make you a happier and more productive person, better able to take care of your family. Eating better can lead to a longer life, which would allow you to do more good for others. Writing something helpful can spread knowledge to others and give them ideas on tackling a particular issue.

For example, I write this weekly newsletter because I enjoy it. But don’t think that doing so has always been easy for me. Often, I have to remind myself that I’m doing this for someone else and that you expect me to deliver every week.

Thank you for reading! Until next week,


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