Self-discipline is an incredibly useful skill that keeps us motivated, clear-headed and focused on our objectives.
Have you ever been tempted to do something in which you later felt guilty about? Times like these are usually due to a lack of discipline. Having self-discipline is important as it helps us be productive even when we don’t feel like it. It helps us say no to that extra slice of cake, encourages us to maintain a consistent exercise schedule and achieve our health and fitness goals. Self-discipline is all about making good long term decisions by overcoming short term temptations. It’s our willingness to accept discomfort, and can be a reflection of self-love. How much do you love and care for yourself that you are willing to make the sacrifices for your own good?
“Self-discipline is about leaning into resistance. Taking action in spite of how you feel. Living a life by design, not by default. But most importantly, it’s acting in accordance with your thoughts – not your feelings.” – Samuel Thomas Davies
Perhaps you want to cut out sugary foods from your diet, or to be more productive, or save money and stick to a budget. Whatever it may be, think of discipline as training, not punishment. Once you change your mindset about what discipline really is, as something positive, you start to welcome self-discipline into your life. It’s a skill that will help you become more productive and bring you closer to success. The good thing is that self-discipline is something you can learn and repeatedly practise until you master it. Here are seven ways to help you master self-discipline:
1. Find your ‘why?’
Find your purpose, a strong motivating reason for why you are doing this. Create SMART goals and write them down on a ranked list based on priority. You’re much more likely to practice self-discipline if you are working towards a goal and have a clear understanding of what that goal is. If you find that you are struggling to be disciplined or your actions are not meeting the needed actions to hit the goals, there is a high chance that these goals are not strong enough or you may not care enough. See here, How to Set Financial Goals.
2. Focus on one goal at a time
Only focus your willpower and self-discipline on one task at a time. The key is to be wise with how you spend your self-discipline and to use it on singular activities to turn into habits, before moving onto the next one. It’s okay to start small. Your first goal could be as simple as making your bed every morning. When an activity becomes a habit, it takes a lot less willpower.
3. Create an action plan
Write down a list of necessary actions or ‘mini goals’ that you need to achieve in order to accomplish your overall goal.These are mini-milestones that break the goals down into manageable pieces. You can start slow and work up toward your goal over time. Creating deadlines can help you keep track of any progress you make. Trying to accomplish a goal without a plan is like setting off to an unknown country without a roadmap. Yes, you can eventually get somewhere but it will take you a lot longer and you’ll have higher chance of getting lost.
4. Be consistent
Showing up and putting in the work everyday does wonders for mental endurance. Self-discipline is not something you can achieve overnight, but staying consistent can help you build focus and realise that it takes time and hard work to reap the benefits and achieve anything great. It’s all about doing it over and over again, until it becomes a habit and you do it on auto-pilot.
5. Remove temptation
Eliminating temptation is a must if you’re going to have self-discipline. If your goal is to start eating healthy, being surrounded by junk food and trying to pick and choose the healthy options in your kitchen won’t work. Instead, the right thing to do is to eliminate unhealthy foods from your diet, your house, and from your mind altogether. Try to remove anything that you feel might trigger you into getting back on the wrong path.
6. Plan for temptation
Plan ahead for any temptations you can’t avoid using the ‘if-then’ technique. This technique will force you to do something pre-planned and specific every-time something happens. For example, if I need to buy a coffee from the cafe, then I will only bring enough money to buy just the one coffee, not a coffee and a donut. It’s a pre-planned decision of self-control that will avoid you having to use your willpower to resist the temptation. This technique is specifically great to use when we anticipate that there will be times when temptations will come up and our willpower might be low.
7. Use rewards
Positive reinforcements are a great way to make sure our new and healthy habits stick around. Don’t be afraid to reward yourself for any improvements made. You are more likely to behave a certain way when you know there’s a reward on the line. By celebrating these small victories, you build momentum and it may motivate you to work harder by having something to look forward to.
The wrap up
Self-discipline is a way of life. Just by doing one thing differently, you can change your entire way of living. In the end, it empowers us to live our lives the way we want to, but don’t be too hard on yourself. Maybe you didn’t exercise when you know you should have. Failure doesn’t define who you are, but your ability to keep going is what shapes you into a disciplined person. Just because you have one bad day doesn’t mean that needs to turn into a bad week or a bad month. Don’t forget that everyday is a new day and a new opportunity to work towards your goals.
Interested in learning more? 💡
Here is an Introduction to Mindfulness, a very practical way to regain control of our mind, feel calm and learn to be present within the moment.