“With self-discipline most anything is possible.” – Theodore Roosevelt
When I have discussions with clients and colleagues about being productive, running marathons, developing my hypnotherapy business and so on, I am keen to point out that the central thing fueling it all is primarily self-discipline. Not natural talent, I don’t boast that at all. Not skill, experience, knowledge, though they all help at times, but self-discipline.
Self-discipline is a powerful attribute to have, yet many find it challenging to obtain. I do too. However…..
“I think self-discipline is something, it’s like a muscle. The more you exercise it, the stronger it gets.”
– Daniel Goldstein
Therefore I wanted to write about some ways to be more self-disciplined. Self-discipline is the ability to do whatever it takes to overcome obstacles and reach your goals, even when it’s inconvenient or uncomfortable.
Some people start the day with good intentions, but veer off as the day progresses due to challenging issues, stresses, or distractions that seem to be a central part of the multi-media, information laden world of today. Thankfully, there are some strategies you can incorporate into your daily life so you can become a master of self-discipline and stay on task.
1. Set Goals:
In order to be more self-disciplined, we have to want to improve. We need to set ourselves very specific goals that are our own, and that are important to us. They need to be our goals, not someone else’s, otherwise our ability to commit to them won’t last. We have to make sure that we realise we are worth the effort, especially if they are health or fitness related. We deserve the things we seek to gain by changing our behaviour.
At first, you have to think proactively and project consequences. Write down all the ideas that you wish to improve. Include what changes you would like to see and how you believe will be the best way to make it happen. The process of writing your goals will help you clarify the thoughts in your mind so you can come up with an action plan that you can stick to.
Learn more about setting goals effectively:
The Principles of Goal Setting For Runners
2. Do Goal-Related Tasks Straight Away:
We all tend to put tasks off until we feel like doing them. I am referring to goal-related objectives here by the way; the stuff that you have highlighted as important in order to achieve your goals, I am not referring to tasks that do not contribute to those prioritised goals. Putting important tasks off is exactly the opposite of self-discipline. The idea of self-discipline is doing what needs to be done, in spite of whether you feel like it or not.
If your level of self-control is low, it’s almost impossible to improve it dramatically overnight. Start with something small. Perhaps you may begin brushing and flossing twice a day, every single day. Instead of starting an exercise routine of 90 minutes per day, start with 15 minutes.
Be committed to the cause. If this is the habit or something that you definitely want to improve in your life, even though it may take a bit of time and effort, it can be done. The same way any effective (or negative) habit is built and developed, so getting important tasks completed and prioritized is a habit to be forged.
Think of the kinds of systems that you can implement in your life that help you to be more self-disciplined, systems which inhibit your ability to get distracted or lack self-discipline.
“I value self-discipline, but creating systems that make it next to impossible to misbehave is more reliable than self-control.” – Tim Ferriss
3. Control Negative Feelings:
Negative feelings are what often stop us. It’s easy to beat yourself up for making mistakes, or not getting things done according to your schedule of when you wanted them done by, but it is in fact counter-productive and will hamper you further.
Don’t allow temporary defeats to knock you off the path towards your goals. Instead, treat these little speed-bumps in life as learning opportunities. Take a brief look to evaluate what didn’t work, apply a new strategy and do things differently.
Learn to reframe problems as challenges that you relish, you can read this article to help with that.
Most of the time, negative feelings are preceded by negative thoughts, so a great way to help control negative feelings that lead to distracted and undisciplined behaviours, is to examine how you use your thoughts. You know that doing that is as easy as learning how A x B = C, don’t you? Read that article to find out how.
4. Go Easy on Yourself:
“Happiness is dependent on self-discipline. We are the biggest obstacles to our own happiness. It is much easier to do battle with society and with others than to fight our own nature.” – Dennis Prager
While it’s true that will-power can be mighty and wonderful, it is also a limited resource. It is used up when we draw on it too much. It is much more effective to spend our time removing blocks and barriers than trying to motivate and drive ourselves forward.
Examine your environment for starters, the environment of your life. Seek the things that are slowing you down, draining you, or getting in your way, and reduce them one by one. One of the biggest of these is usually ourselves, or parts of ourselves. For example, self-criticism may sit alongside the desire for self-discipline and this can soak up a lot of energy.
So find out how you are getting in your own way. Develop an awareness of yourself. Be mindful. If it is self-criticism, accept that is part of you. If you criticise yourself for criticising yourself, accept that too.
Learn more about self-compassion:
How to Advance Self-Compassion with Self-Hypnosis
Audio hypnosis session:
Advance Your Self-Compassion
5. Have a Support Network:
Enlist the help and support of others. It’s absolutely wonderful that you’ve committed to make a positive change in your life, but don’t keep it under wraps. Tell others that you want to make a change and boost your self-discipline. They can help keep you on track.
Those who love you will be there to support you and help you celebrate your successes. Ask them and show them how to help you.
Your support group can also help you get through the bad days and put you back on track to achieve your goals. You can have things put into perspective, and ensure you feel renewed afterwards.
6. Believe in Yourself:
Have faith in yourself and know that if you can master your self-discipline, you can do anything! There will be both good and bad days, but as long as you stay focused and committed, you’ll be successful in building your self-discipline.
At times, focus on the big picture and concentrate on how your body, mind, and energy will change for the better when you stay committed. At other times, focus in on the smaller tasks required to get things done that day without too much concern about the bigger picture, just knowing how today’s actions are also contributing to the longer term view. Enjoy the moment.
Learn more about believing in yourself:
Ways to Advance Self-Belief
7. Be Sure To Reward Yourself:
Celebrate your successes along the way.
Keeping yourself slavishly nailed to your task will sometimes produce diminishing returns. Decide on how you will reward yourself. Developing a powerful vision for what’s possible and working towards it will keep you excited and energised. Reward yourself along the way even for reaching the smallest milestones. Celebrate all the wins. Make it a game and have fun with it!
You have to teach yourself to decline the unhelpful invitations and requests for your attention that you receive each day that threatens to de-rail you from your goals. You can think for yourself and refuse to give in to the pressure from external sources.
However, if you do experience some resistance, it’s worth noting that this is a very normal part of the change process. When you start to adapt a new behaviour, it’s very common to feel resistance as those cogs in your brain start learning how to grind in a new direction. The more effort and persistence you invest, the more you’ll oil those cogs and they’ll be firing your self-discipline to the maximum.
Go get self-disciplined, don’t let it become a chore, let it become an enjoyable skill and a progressive part of your entire attitude in life.
“Whether you call it Buddhism or another religion, self-discipline, that’s important. Self-discipline with awareness of consequences.” – Dalai Lama
If you’d like to learn more or if this has resonated with you in some way, then visit these pages:
1. Has low self-discipline held you back and is it still doing so now? Do you need more self-discipline?
Coaching with Adam Eason Or Hypnotherapy with Adam Eason
2. Would you like a satisfying and meaningful career as a hypnotherapist helping others become more self-disciplined?
Adam Eason’s Anglo European training college.
3. Are you a hypnotherapist for whom lack of self-discipline is negatively effecting the success of your business? Do you need more self-discipline to fulfil your career ambitions?
Hypnotherapist Mentoring with Adam Eason.
Likewise, if you’d like to learn more about self-hypnosis, understand the evidence based principles of it from a scientific perspective and learn how to apply it to many areas of your life while having fun and in a safe environment and have the opportunity to test everything you learn, then come and join me for my one day seminar which does all that and more, have a read here: The Science of Self-Hypnosis Seminar.
Great post and I agree with everything but the “self discipline is a limited resource” part… that’s a made up concept designed to sell books as it gives people a “it wasn’t my fault, I was out of self discipline” excuse. Poof of unlimited self discipline/willpower is everywhere, it’s just not easy and people want easy and they want to read about how it isn’t their fault when they fail to accomplish, that’s where Baumiesters book comes in… it tells people what they want to hear and you’ll sell books all day long by doing that whether it’s true or not.
Thanks for taking the time to write and say so Rob. You make a very valid and interesting point.
My very best wishes to you, Adam.