The idea of having self-discipline can bring up different responses. There is often a love-hate relationship with self-discipline.
Some people love being disciplined because it gives them something to focus on, while knowing there is a benefit associated with it.
As an example, consider someone training to participate in the Olympic Games. For years leading up to the Games, they have to put in hours and hours of training, be on a controlled diet and/or supplement program, and be committed to show up as best as they can every time they train or compete.
While the grind may be difficult, for most of them, the reward, which is their desire to participate and win a medal, keeps them going.
On the other hand, self-discipline can bring up a lot of resistance and discomfort for people. Most people aren’t willing to commit to being disciplined long-term, so they don’t achieve the things they really want.
Just think of those who set New Year’s resolutions. The majority of them will abandon their resolutions within a couple of months of setting them because chances are they don’t have a high level of self-discipline.
In this video, actor Will Smith, suggests that self-discipline is the centre of all material success. The better we can master self-discipline, the more self-confidence we will have and the more success we can achieve.
What is Self-Discipline?
There are many useful definitions for self-discipline including:
- Being able to control your feelings and overcome your weaknesses.
- Being able to control yourself in any given situation.
- Being able to make yourself do things you know are good for you, even though you don’t want to.
The best definition of self-discipline I have learned is it’s giving yourself a command and sticking to it.
A number of years ago, as part of my desire to improve my health and well-being, I decided to eliminate as much processed sugar from my diet as I could. Paying more attention to the ingredients of food I was buying was an inconvenience initially, however I knew that if I wanted to stick to eliminating processed sugar, I had to continue doing it.
With time, it became a lot easier and by staying disciplined with what I ate, I was able to significantly improve my physical health and also generate more positive emotions on a consistent basis.
Learning to master self-discipline will make a big difference in how we think, feel and act, and will also lead to more success.
How to Develop Self-Discipline to Achieve What You Want
- Decide what you want to be more self-disciplined in. Everything starts with a new decision. If there is an area of our lives we want to improve, the starting point is to decide which area to focus on first. It could be in our physical health, it could be in our diet, or it could be how much sleep we get every night. The clearer we are, the more likely we’ll stick to it.
- Identify your payoff. If there is a benefit to be gained, we have to know what it is. Sometimes, there may be a risk or consequence associated with not making a change, such as a risk to our physical health or a financial risk. Knowing why we want to achieve an outcome and how others will benefit as well, will keep us motivated.
- Know your triggers or patterns. Change can be difficult because we’re creatures of habit. There will be things that can cause us to slip up or be tempted to do the thing we don’t want to do. It’ll be really helpful to remove those temptations if we can, then decide in advance what we will or will not do, so we don’t have to consume mental energy thinking whether we should or shouldn’t do something.
- Design the right environments. Part of removing temptations is to have supportive environments so they assist us in staying disciplined. Instead of fighting against our environments, it’s better to use them to our advantage. This can include using technology to stay on track or asking for help by having an accountability partner.
- Start with small steps. We make improvements to our lives one step at a time, doing one thing at a time. With each step we take, we’ll see progress, which will then build up to new levels of motivation and momentum. Over time, through a series of small steps, we’ll enjoy big rewards.
The ability to stay self-disciplined comes down to two things:
- Eliminating distractions or temptations.
- Staying focused on what’s most important right now.
The better we’re able to stay self-disciplined, the more confidence we’ll develop because we’ll know we can trust ourselves to stick to what needs to be done in order to achieve what we want.
Question: What is something else we can do to develop more self-discipline?
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