Self-Discipline Is Essential to Success
To be able to discuss self-discipline appropriately, we first need a working definition.
Collins English Dictionary defines self-discipline as
“the ability to control yourself and to make yourself work hard or behave in a particular way without needing anyone else to tell you what to do.”
If It Were Easy, Everyone Would Do It
It’s a simple concept. Actually being self-disciplined is a bit more difficult.
How many people are ALWAYS able to motivate ourselves to complete any given task, even when they don’t feel like it?
How many have total control over willpower, always overcome weaknesses, and always meet their goals?
I don’t know about you, but I this was not me for a long time.
You were more likely to find me eating ice cream for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and lazing around on the couch than at the gym, where I should have been working towards my fitness goals!
“If it were easy, everyone would do it.”
Don’t get me wrong. The intention was there.
I fully intended to get fit and toned and lose my tummy weight. But because I lacked self-discipline, the follow-through was nonexistent.
My failure to meet my goals discouraged me from trying.
When I felt discouraged, what do you think I did? Binged, and then felt bad about it.
This was followed by the realization that I was even farther away from my goal than before. Not fun.
Characteristics of Disciplined People
Self-disciplined people reach their goals more quickly, dream bigger, and achieve greater success in life.
They have lots of positive things happening in their lives because they are self-starters.
They have discipline to lean on when motivation runs dry, even when they can’t yet see the fruits of their labor.
Self-disciplined people know how to work hard when others “just don’t feel like it.” They understand the benefit of the rewards they will reap later.
“With self-discipline, almost anything is possible.”
Failure to Self-Discipline Equals Failure
When you are not able to control your ever-changing desires, you fail to have discipline.
It’s why you can never finish a diet plan, lose the thirty pounds, stick to a budget, meet your savings goals, or keep your house organized. (I’m speaking to myself here.)
All of the things I just mentioned are GOOD things. They are things we desire to have and the ways we wish to live.
The things we crave most are often the hardest for us to achieve. Why? Because they require discipline and sacrifice, which both cause us discomfort if we are not used to them.
We give up what we want most for what feels comfortable now and never reach our highest potential or our highest selves. What a way to live!
Your mind can be your own worst enemy. Most of the time, it truly is the greatest obstacle standing between you and success.
Failure to self-discipline happens when we let our minds get in the way of our path to better ourselves.
We allow our minds to convince us that what we want NOW is more important than what we crave MOST. No judgment – we all make this tradeoff too often to count. I’ve been the worst offender!
Feelings Are Fickle
We also use our feelings to justify shying away from discipline and sacrifice. “Oh, I’m just not up for that today,” we sigh, fully believing we are giving up our daily discipline to engage in self-care.
Allow me to set the record straight.
Being undisciplined is not a form of self-care!
Overspending when you don’t have extra money is not self-care.
Spending the weekend eating unhealthy foods week after week after week is not self-care.
15 hours in front of screens is not self-care either.
Self-care is never damaging, but goes hand in hand with self-discipline.
It is the act of caring for your mental health and your physical health so you don’t burn out.
The Benefits of Self-Discipline
The benefits of self-discipline are numerous and powerful for living a meaningful life.
We have already established that self-discipline allows us to reach our goals and overcome obstacles. It is the means for success in every endeavor we take on.
Self-disciplined people tend to eat healthily, exercise often, and are happier as a result.
They aren’t lugging around extra weight, and eating foods that make them sluggish. Sleep comes easier as well!
Disciplined people have extra energy to invest in their hobbies on the weekends – like hiking, attending conferences, yoga retreats, and developing various skills.
Live Life to the Fullest
You see, self-disciplined people are enjoying life too much to be tired or bored.
Putting in the work to be healthier, wealthier, and wiser becomes its reward when one begins to see the results of that work come to fruition.
In the words of the famous author, Oscar Wilde,
“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”
How to Be Self-Disciplined
Self-discipline is a lifestyle developed by small choices and decisions towards an end goal, made consistently over time.
The journey to become self-disciplined begins with learning how to control our reactions to temptations and learn to make consistent decisions (no matter how inconsequential they may seem) that lead us in the direction of our goals.
1. Spend Time Setting Goals
Speaking of goals, the more time you spend envisioning and meditating on your goals, the more likely you are to achieve them.
That’s not just feel-good mumbo jumbo talking – it’s actual psychological research!
When you train your brain to fixate on the goals you have put in place, your mind begins to seek more opportunities to actively reach that goal.
Many call this way of operating “the power of manifestation.” It just means that you are doing yourself a favor by writing down, meditating on, and reviewing your goals frequently.
2. Work Backwards from Your End Result
Do you know the secret to write a great mystery novel?
All great mystery authors will tell you that the only way to write a fantastic mystery arc is to start with the ending and work backward.
Starting at the end is the best way for the author to put the clues and characters in the right places throughout the story so that the resolution makes sense.
The same is very accurate for achieving goals – it is easier to align the pieces of our lives to reach the end goal when we have a clear image of the target in our heads. Puzzles, for example, are best done when you have a picture of the result to use for reference.
Stay focused on your goals, and you will begin to align the influences in your life to work for you, not against you.
3. Self-Discipline is Discomfort
Learning to be okay with feeling uncomfortable is one of the most helpful adjustments you can make in the pursuit of self-discipline.
Making sacrifices is painful, and pushing yourself to the limit of your capabilities is uncomfortable too!
But growth is not meant to be a comfortable experience, so get ready to dive into discomfort.
No Pain, No Gain
People who train themselves to welcome pain and make it their best friend are the ones who will not be easily overcome by the first curveball thrown their way.
The next time you feel challenged and uncomfortable and feel like giving up, ask yourself,
“Is it really that bad? Am I not stronger than this feeling? This temporary pain is inconsequential to the benefit of pressing forward.”
The old cliché is true here: no pain, no gain. So keep the pain coming!
4. Analyze Your Bad Habit Triggers
I am an emotional eater, so when I feel overwhelmed or sad or tired, my first instinct is to treat myself to sugar and carbs – often without limit.
This bad habit leads to negative results like increased weight gain, feeling more tired than before, and feeling self-conscious about my body.
Identify the Root
Where did this negative spiral begin? It began with my inability to handle my emotions in a healthy way. This means that a negative emotion was my trigger (as they so often are).
We should look for the root cause of our bad habits, rather than trying to change external behaviors. This will help us respond to our triggers in healthier, more productive ways.
“The first and best victory is to conquer self.”
5. Remove Temptations from Your Surroundings
Ever decide you were going to start a diet on Monday and then proceed to eat every last bit of junk food in the house over the weekend? Yeah, me too.
While this is not at all an effective way of removing temptations, the intention is there. Removing temptations is often necessary on the journey to self-discipline.
Eyes on the Prize
At the beginning stages of forming new habits, it’s usually helpful to remove distractions from your surroundings.
Are you spending six hours a day on video games? Lock up your system in the closet for a few months.
Netflix gobbling up all your spare time? Cancel your subscription for a month. And while you shouldn’t eat all the candy in the house, it is wise to get rid of it!
6. Track EVERYTHING
We all think we don’t need to write things down, but oh how effective it is to track our behaviors!
Recently, I began “auditing” my time, from the moment I wake up to the moment I hit the sack at night. When I start writing down all I am accomplishing before lunch, it motivates me to do even more!
On the flip side, I can see what went wrong on days that I don’t get anything done. On paper, it’s easy to see what behaviors or habits led to an interruption in my workflow.
Tracking allows me to constantly improve my productivity. I like this cute tracker, found on Etsy, but it’s easy to make your own as well!
Tracking Leads to Self-Discipline
Experts have said for years that writing down what you eat helps you lose weight. Equally, writing down everything you purchase enables you to spend money more wisely.
Whether it’s bullet journaling or merely making lists, set up a tracking system for the habits you most want to form.
7. Start TODAY
Clichés are said so often because they are true. This can be said of the phrase “don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today.”
When we seek to become self-disciplined, it’s common to make a grand plan for the coming week. Whether it’s a diet or a work schedule or a workout routine, we schedule it out to the last detail.
But self-discipline is rarely about grand gestures. Get in the habit of continually asking yourself, “how can I choose discipline?”
Rather than putting so much energy into the future and how future-you is going to behave, start becoming the person you desire to be TODAY.
8. 20 Second Motivation
The first twenty seconds of any activity requires an incredible amount of motivation, and it is often those twenty seconds that deter us from completing disagreeable tasks.
Our alarms go off, and instead of launching ourselves out of bed and into the bathroom, we groan and roll over and hit “snooze.”
We get home from work, slump on the couch, and flip on the TV instead of grabbing our gym shoes and heading out the door.
The Law of Inertia
These types of behavior demonstrate the power of inertia at work in our lives: objects in motion tend to stay in motion while objects at rest tend to stay at rest.
To make the change from rest to action requires self-discipline and loads of self-motivation, but the good news is this – once you set yourself in motion, it’s not so hard to keep moving!
9. Practice Growth Mindset
A closed mindset is one that sees every obstacle and temptation as evidence that they are not good enough to reach their goals, and that they should give up when met with resistance of any kind.
These kinds of people believe that if they are not good at something, they never will be, so it is useless to try.
A growth mindset, on the other hand, welcomes obstacles and temptations as opportunities to grow.
RELATED: 50 Mindset Journaling Prompts for Your Daily Practice
10. Know Yourself
People with growth mindsets know their weaknesses, but they are not afraid to get uncomfortable, work hard, and turn those weaknesses into strengths.
The next time you encounter a challenge, affirm yourself by saying,
“I can overcome this because I am capable of growth, I am focused on my goals, and I am not afraid of discomfort.”
There are plenty of growth mindset affirmations to meditate on, but this is just one example.
For a plethora of personality tests, click HERE.
Self-Discipline: You Can Do It!
In conclusion, self-discipline is vital for our lives because it is the pathway to the things we want most. We cheat ourselves by choosing temporary pleasures over hard work and discomfort.
While self-discipline is not easy to achieve, these methods and tools will help develop this lifestyle over time.
Remember, self-discipline is made up of little moments when we choose our goals over temptations. Today is the day to embrace a better you!
Grab this FREE Mindset Training: 7 Days to Self-Discipline and get a head start on your goals today!