Do you ever say no to a hot-fudge sundae when tempted to have one? Do you prefer to sleep in when you know you should be waking up early?
Although it may seem hard to believe, statistics show that disciplined people (who don’t eat the sundae or sleep in) are happier.
Arguing that discipline is not the same as a sacrifice, author of the book Making Habits, Breaking Habits, Jeremy Dean suggests that saying no to a sundae will ultimately result in a happier life free from guilt.
Self-discipline will make you feel more positive about yourself – it’s one of the best ways to get ahead in life, and there are plenty of reasons to believe that self-discipline is one of the most important skills you can have.
Research shows that people who have a good sense of self-discipline are less likely to:
- Be depressed.
- Feel anxious or stressed out, abuse drugs and alcohol.
- Develop an eating disorder (binging, purging).
- Suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorders.
Of course, these are just a few of the proven advantages of having self-discipline.
If you would like to get a true feeling for what a life of self-discipline is like? Try out these ten ways to improve your self-discipline. The important thing is to choose a few and commit to them!
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How to Master Your Self-Discipline
What is self-discipline?
Have you ever touched a hot stove, and then jumped back immediately? This is what it’s like to give up early. If we can get past the initial pain of discipline, our success will be great!
Self-discipline is vital because when we consistently ask ourselves to do things we don’t always want to do, it helps us reach goals that are sometimes beyond what we can achieve on our own without self-discipline.
And when you choose to do activities and behaviors that help you become the best version of yourself — and stick with them — that’s when you develop a self-discipline muscle.
In short: without self-discipline, we wouldn’t get much accomplished, would we?
Why work on your self-discipline?
In many aspects of our lives, self-discipline can be very beneficial.
It’s what drives you to do high-quality work even when it doesn’t feel easy. It helps you stay professional with clients even when you feel like giving up. And it allows you to stick with your goals and accomplish them.
You can also use self-discipline to persevere through difficult times, even when others see them as impossible. It can improve learning and performance and studies show that students who have high levels of self-discipline retain more knowledge than those who don’t.
Moreover, researchers also discovered that students who had strong self-discipline performed better. And research also shows that self-discipline is a better predictor of success than an overall IQ.
What’s the outcome of having self-discipline?
Self-discipline allows one to persevere in the face of failures and setbacks.
Self-discipline is the ability to control one’s actions and respond to situations with inner strength.
It’s the same as self-control and can help an individual achieve their goals, but it does not have to be a strict lifestyle–it simply requires being present at the moment and being focused on the tasks at hand.
According to Anders Ericsson’s 1993 paper “The Role of Deliberate Practice in The Acquisition of Expert Performance,” expert status takes 10,000 hours or five years; however, this theory has been debated by other scientists who believe it may take less time for someone talented enough with the right skill.
Nonetheless, if you keep pushing through with perseverance, you will attain the self-discipline you need like a true expert in whatever you endeavor to accomplish.
What are the benefits of Self-discipline?
When it comes to living a well-rounded life, there are many benefits to improving your self-discipline, including:
- Reduced anxiety. You will feel less anxious if you have control over your actions.
- Your ability to reach your long-term goals is increased. Self-discipline will help you achieve your goals by allowing you to be more focused and less distracted. You will also be able to reach your goals faster than if there were too many distractions.
- You will feel happier. You’ll feel so much happier when you move forward on your path to achieving the goals you have set for yourself.
- You will be more resilient. Your ability to resist temptation grows as you develop self-discipline. This makes you more resilient in many different situations.
This is all possible by practicing self-discipline but the truth is, some days may seem like self-discipline is virtually impossible and you may start to think that some people were just born with it (since self-discipline comes very easy for them).
So before you head into reading the super awesome self-discipline steps below, know that the superpowers of self-discipline, that those highly disciplined people all have, are a learned skill.
This means, you too can also tap into enhancing it yourself so you can reach your fullest potential.
Now, try these ten ways to improve your self-discipline today!
How to Master Your Self-Discipline In 10 Steps
Keep it simple and create new habits.
Acquiring self-discipline and working to instill a new habit can feel daunting at first, primarily if you focus on the entire task at hand.
But if you keep it simple to avoid feeling overwhelmed and break your goals into small, doable steps, instead of changing everything at once, you’ll reach your goals and learn self-discipline faster by keeping that particular goal in your mind.
For instance, you can start by exercising for 10 to 15 minutes each day if you want to lose weight. Or start getting to bed earlier each night if you want to improve your sleep habits. Or start preparing lunch the night before so you can take it with you the next day.
Even if your goal doesn’t seem very exciting at first, once you get going with it, you will find that developing the discipline required to reach a goal can be as rewarding as reaching the actual goal itself.
Moreover, if you start small, when you are ready, you will be able to add more goals.
Know your weaknesses.
A lack of self-discipline leads to discord, indecision, and frustration. And this is a mixed failure cocktail if you don’t try to improve your weaknesses to help you gain more strength with your self-discipline.
Although it is not something that anyone likes, you cannot hide your weaknesses all the time.
You must recognize your problems so that they don’t control your life and prevent you from achieving the things you want.
It is easy to identify the problem and then figure out how to solve it. If getting up on Monday morning seems impossible because of work or screen time, you might want to try to complete tasks earlier in the day.
It might also be a good idea to limit your evening computer use, as this may help you sleep better at night and make it easier to get up in the morning.
Recognizing our weaknesses helps us gain strength in self-development and make us stronger.
Healthy eating habits are essential.
Low blood sugar can decrease motivation, and your brain doesn’t function at its best when you are hungry.
This can affect your ability to focus and analyze because hunger can also make it hard to concentrate on the task at hand which can lead to irritability and pessimism.
A weaker sense of self-control is more common in your daily life regarding diet, exercise, relationships, and work when it comes to having the proper nutrition.
You need to be well-nourished throughout the day, with healthy snacks and meals every few hours, in order to combat a lack of motivation.
Healthy snacks will allow you to get the healthy protein and fats you need throughout your day to regulate blood sugar levels, improve decision-making skills, and increase concentration.
Your brain will be better able to focus on your goals, priorities (and not your stomach), which will help make self-discipline a much more attainable skill to harness.
The power of belief in oneself is a powerful tool for success. People who have scaled mountains were the first to believe they could do it and then did so with great heights! If you think your willpower isn’t enough, be confident in yourself and keep doing what needs to get done until no more external motivators are required.
Commit your goals with another person.
A friend can be a great accountability partner to achieve the self-discipline you need.
Why do so many people use trainers and coaches to help them reach their fitness goals, coach them to achieve their professional or personal goals, or join a group like Weight Watchers?
The answer is, you can get things done when you hold someone accountable for what they say they will do and vice versa.
Commit your goals to another person. Find a gym partner to keep you accountable and on track, or hire a coach. You can text your commitments to each other so that you are accountable.
Witness how you do the things you do.
Self-monitoring is another great way of building a healthy and strong self-discipline muscle.
It lets us become self experts in our own behaviors so that we can make our unhealthy habits way less of a hassle to change out.
Researchers suggest that if you constantly reflect on your daily habits and remember what motivates you to recharge your willpower, you will have better results with your self-discipline for the times when you feel that they are low.
To witness how you do the things you do, keep a calendar and mark down all that you do — the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Once you see the things you want to change out, you’ll be better equipped to change them because you will start seeing a pattern that you dislike.
Visualize your results.
Your brain doesn’t differentiate between real and imagined scenarios well. And, your brain chemistry also changes when you visualize something very vividly.
That means visualizing positive outcomes can be one of the best ways to help you feel positive and reduce your insecurity. Healthy visualizing will also make it easier to overcome fear and take positive steps towards achieving your goals.
Motivate yourself with positive reinforcement so that you will feel good about your accomplishments and other behaviors, both in the moment and after they are over.
Whether your lack of self-discipline is bad for you or not, our mind always keeps a record of things through which we feel the most joy — whether it’s good or bad!
It can be social media, peer pressure, smoking, drinking, your ego, or good things like family and friends…
When it comes to mastering self-discipline the subconscious mind will indirectly give our bodies a signal to repeatedly perform those tasks (whether they are good or bad) because it wants its dopamine rush.
The subconscious mind will still indirectly give our bodies a signal to repeatedly perform certain tasks (whether they are good for us or bad) because it wants its dopamine rush.
This is why self-discipline plays another major role in why you must take notes on the good and bad (like the previous tip stated) and then taking a step further, rewarding yourself for doing your good and healthy behaviors.
Since we usually want to discipline ourselves to avoid certain bad habits anyway, the only way to get around this is to start releasing dopamine from our healthier habits and more often.
Give yourself a pat on the back for making your bed, or treat yourself to a latte after you’ve worked out.
If you do this, you will start to see your self-discipline rise because you will be retraining your mind to enjoy correctness and you’ll also start enjoying the good behaviors over the bad as time goes by.
When it comes to mastering your self-discipline, science has backed this up countless times and it’s worth mentioning here as well because separating your temptations from your environment to help you stay on track, is a must for mastering self-discipline.
In fact, research also demonstrates that the best way of avoiding temptation altogether is practicing the “out of sight, out of mind” theory.
For example, if you eat too much sugar? Don’t bring it home. If you stay up too late? Remove the TV from your bedroom.
These are only examples, but things like that will help you master your self-discipline like a pro.
Of course, it’s easier said than done, but if you try not to satisfy yourself with temporary pleasures (especially when you are alone), and if you remove the temptations that you are trying really hard to gain control over, you’ll start feeling more confident in yourself which also is a healthy reward.
Another renowned and established technique to mastering self-control is to keep track of what you say and what you do when you experience temptation.
This is regarded as a self-regulation technique and it can really help you become more aware (at the moment temptation strikes) when you feel your self-discipline starting to slip.
Master the first 20 seconds.
If you would like to master your self-discipline, science also tells us that you also have to have enough motivation to start for the first 20 seconds of any given task in which you would like to complete.
This can be in the form of waking up early, all the way to developing your fitness goals. After all, motivation is the little engine that could.
It’s the driving force in which self-discipline is able to move forward and according to research studies, the first 20 seconds of ANY given task is your moment to strike and excel with your self-discipline while the iron is hot.
Once you have gathered enough energy and momentum, it’ll be much easier to sustain and carry out whatever you put your mind too.
Other studies have also shown that people who achieve the most out of life, often motivate themselves with positive self-talk especially when they have no one else telling them to get moving.
Stay true to your passions.
The reason that passion deserves so much credit is that it helps to inspire action. And what produces outcomes the best in life is activity.
So when it comes to mastering your self-discipline, know that your own unique passion projects are a great thing to do, as they will most usually bring out a sense of fun and creativity that we all humans need.
Having a passion for something will not only inspire oneself to be more self-disciplined but it will also allow you to easily carry it through because you are enjoying what you are doing.
According to studies, you should never be doing something more than 20% of the time that you don’t like.
As much as that is a hard pill to swallow, most highly self-disciplined people have a goal, usually like what they are doing, making having discipline a little easier to use.
Use the power of three.
Another simple trick to obtain stellar self-control and self-discipline or achieve any objective that you would like to master is to look at what you would like to achieve, big or small, and implement small tiny action steps to make it more attainable.
When it comes to helping your self-discipline out, this is where the power of three with list creation can help!
Experts advise that creating a list of three small little action steps that you can do straight away will get closer to your desired outcome instead of being stuck in decision paralysis.
A perfect example of this, is maybe you’d like to drop 5 pounds?
Three action steps would look like this:
- Walk for 4000 steps outdoors.
- Throw out all sugary foods in the house.
- Clear space in your closet for new smaller fitting clothes.
This is just an example, but you can clearly see that these three action steps make obtaining weight loss, a lot easier.
Plus, once you start checking off your action steps, you’ll find that your self-discipline will be so much easier to create if you keep filling those empty slots each passing day.
Avoid the comparison trap.
Does your inner dialogue or inner narrative compare your every move with others?
If so, it’s time to change how often you compare your life with the way others live theirs if you would like to master your self-discipline.
Comparing your life with others could be influencing your self-discipline in a negative way, making you paralyzed by self-confusion if you keep comparing your goals.
Sometimes seeing others have it-all-now, can feel unmotivating to stay on our own unique paths for true success.
It can also make you feel negative towards yourself especially when you think you should be a lot further than you are.
So what’s going to help your self-discipline after you stop comparing?
Another great way to enhance your self-discipline is your mindset.
Whether it’s a positive one or a negative one, studies have also shown that low self-discipline usually involves having a negative self-dialogue or negative self-talk, which most usually, talks us out of doing great things.
So become extremely aware of your own inner self-dialogue and follow those thoughts up with a more positive inner self-discussion such as; “I can do this.”, or “I will complete this goal if I start this task for 5 mins right now”, and “If they can do it, I can do it too!”.
Remember, everything takes time, including being disciplined, and the greatest struggle will always come from within — it might as well be a positive one!
Get a mentor.
Getting a mentor is a great way to get more self-discipline.
Mentors are usually a better understanding of you and can offer honest advice to help in your future career. They’re also someone who doesn’t have an immediate stake in what happens with you, so they’ll give feedback without any fear or favoritism involved.
Mentors also offer a different perspective and are more in tune with what you want and need, providing that much-needed honest feedback to help you take the following steps for success with ease.
Recognize where you are struggling.
Write down everything you do each day. Now, reflect on your values and see if your actions are consistent with those values. You’re likely to do a few things each day that aren’t in line with those values since you are only human, and sometimes we all come up short.
There are a few steps that you can take to help identify the areas in which your values and actions do not match up.
First, make an honest list of everything you did on any given day–everything from laughing at jokes with coworkers during lunchtime to staring out into space when there is nothing better occupying our time.
Once this has been accomplished, notice where those occasional destructive behaviors or habits come into play; for instance, if you find yourself rude even though it’s something you can control, then know that these moments need attention as well!
There will be some days when living by one set of rules seems impossible (we’re only human) but once we have identified what needs improvement, implementing change becomes much easier.
What do you feel when you arrive home late from work or school, and there is nothing to do?
Boredom is more than a feeling. It can be detrimental to your mental health. It’s common for many people to find themselves in this situation.
Recognize your thoughts and then make an effort to change them into positive thinking like “I deserve some rest” or “It is okay if one of my days ends without any plans.”
It doesn’t matter what discipline you practice every day; there will always be days when boredom is all you need!
Self-discipline is a daily skill — if you don’t use it, you lose it!
We all know the importance of repeated practice. The more we repeat and practice a given task or habit — it will eventually make a habit out of it.
Moreover, repeated practice will not only help you make better decisions along the way but if you tell yourself daily that you refuse to give up, you’ll start narrowing the gap with your chances of relapsing back to your old way of doing things.
And since you are ingraining the habit to hopefully be on autopilot, eventually, you can focus your self-discipline on other areas that you would like to conquer.
So get back on that horse again if your self-discipline starts to slip, try until you master your self-control, and repeat, repeat, repeat.
Like with any skill, repeated practice is how you will thrive, it will never go away and it’s going to be a lifelong commitment.
When you are building your self-discipline muscle, be aware that with anything that you undertake, self-discipline is not excluded, that it’s going to be hard, and realistically, it’s going to take time.
To put it straightforwardly, you can’t just go straight to the top, especially if you have been self-disciplined for months and what you see may seem like a small change.
Everything great consists of small moving parts, it’s like fine machinery that consists of hard work and patience.
If you pair that with a little grace with yourself as you steadily inch closer towards your goals, you can go so much further!
Why self-discipline is important.
If self-discipline is more like self-control (which really is a sign of inner strength and control of yourself), then our very actions and reactions (the things we choose to do on a daily and consistent basis) will either take away from our self-discipline or enhance it.
That means you and only you have the power to make the right decisions in the present moment like sleeping in or eating that hot fudge sundae versus going to the gym example.
And since self-discipline really is the key to mastering your life, if you use your self-discipline correctly and follow through with it by not wavering and changing your mind often, you will have one of the most fundamental and important requirements to achieve every goal you desire for yourself.
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Tuesday 7th of December 2021
Wonderful content. Thanks very much!
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Tuesday 20th of July 2021
wonderful article! So mich iNsiGHt! This should be everywhere! Thank you so much!