When you encounter a hot-fudge sundae and say no or sleep in versus going to the gym, it may sound difficult to believe, but statistics show that people with self-discipline (who aren’t eating the sundae) are happier.
Since self-discipline is an important skill that can lead to a more happier and productive life, for many it’s difficult to acquire.
Self-discipline requires the ability to make tough decisions without being swayed by your emotions or what you see in front of you (and sometimes behind). If self-discipline was easy – people may not have any problems with it at all! But when tempted between two alternatives or outcomes (good vs bad), our minds intervene and sway us from making good choices.
The problem with self-discipline is it requires, by its very core, we make decisions that depend on an end long-term objective (getting in shape), rather than choosing an instant gratifying reward (eating the sundae).
And although some life choices are not that difficult to make, most of them all still require a little bit of self-discipline.
If you’re struggling with self-discipline, here are 10 powerful insights to help you master it every day.
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Why mastering self-discipline is so important.
Since we touched a little bit on the very nature of self-discipline, that when tempted to choose an alternative, we allow our minds to intervene in our path of being disciplined.
Going a bit further self-discipline can also be viewed like this: Self-discipline = Discipline of Self.
This is pretty obvious but when it comes down to it, self-discipline is the ability to have the inner strength to control yourself in whatever situation you find yourself in.
But it’s also about having the ability to make yourself work hard or behave in a particular way without needing anyone else to tell you to do so.
Why we need self-discipline to be content in life?
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.
But truth be told, some days may seem like self-discipline is impossible for you, 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 the steps, know that the superpowers of self-discipline (that all highly disciplined people have) are a learned characteristic and skill.
That means, you too can also tap into it and enhance it to help you reach your fullest potential.
So let’s start making you the best that you can be, in everything that you do, with these 10 unique ways to harness your self-discipline.
1. Embrace boredom.
You know that feeling when you get home late at night from work or school and have nothing to do? Being bored isn’t just a phase, but it can also be very problematic for your mental health. A lot of people end up in this situation so the first step is recognizing what’s going on inside your head and making an effort to change those thoughts into something more positive like “I deserve some time off” or “It’s ok if one day ends without any plans.”
It doesn’t matter how much discipline you practice each day: sometimes there will come days where all we need is complete boredom!
2. Know your weaknesses, in order to change them.
Lack of self-discipline leads to discord, indecision, and frustration. This is a mixed failure cocktail if you don’t remove your limitations to help you gain more strength.
Many people want to be more disciplined, but don’t know how to get there.
So if you don’t know your vulnerabilities, now is the time to ask your closest allies what they are. Whatever you are vulnerable about is usually something that is highlighting a weak point of yours.
Researchers say that discipline and determination are like muscles. They can be hard to flex in the short term, however, if you exercise them, and the more they are used daily, the better and stronger they become in the long term.
Knowing your weaknesses is a good thing for building this self-discipline muscle. It will encourage you to be more positive in developing and understanding what you need to change.
3. Self-monitor & witness how you do the things you do.
Self-monitoring is another great way of building a healthy and strong self-discipline muscle.
When we do this, 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.
Plus, researchers suggest that if you constantly reflect on your daily habits and remember what motivates you to recharge your willpower, you will then have better results with your self-discipline for the times when you feel that they are low.
To carry this out, get as much feedback as you can by having a self-monitoring plan. Try to 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.
Being aware of them will also help you not aimlessly walk through life with no clue on what to change.
4. Always reward your good behaviors.
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.
So 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.
5. Remove all temptations.
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.
So 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 do when you experience your 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.
6. Master the first 20 seconds to reinforce yourself.
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.
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.
7. Work on a passion project — it will make your self-discipline shine!
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.
Moreover and 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.
8. Have patience.
When you are building your self-discipline muscle, be aware that with anything that you undertake, self-discipline not excluded, that it’s going to be hard, and realistically, that 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. And if you pair that with a little grace with yourself as you steadily inch closer towards your goals, you can go so much further!
9. 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.
10. 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.
Plus, sometimes seeing others have it-all-now, can feel unmotivating to stay on our own unique paths.
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!
**BONUS** 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.
There you have it! That’s my take on Self-discipline, and when you can master it, it really does create a more joyful and balanced life.
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Hi, my name is Rebecca and I am the face behind Everything Abode! I am a lifestyle and wellness writer based out of Vancouver Island. When I’m not writing or exploring mountains and beaches with my furry rescue, I love spending time learning creative ways to manifest a healthy home. Thanks for stopping by!