We will look in depth, below, why self discipline is important. However, here is what I have found to be true: being disciplined will help us achieve our goals in any area of our personal or professional life. In other words, it will help us succeed.
What exactly is self discipline?
When we decide to work on a goal, self discipline is the ability to pursue that goal with focus and persistence, even in the face of adversity.
For example, when we decide not to eat any junk food Monday to Friday, self discipline is the ability to stick to that decision regardless of the temptation.
When we decide to work on our hobby a minimum of ten hours per week, this means being able to stick to that decision no matter what else happens in our life (and things do and will happen).
It’s our ability to overcome our feelings and emotions, our ability to stay focused on the journey to our goal.
It’s our ability to get things done.
Benefits of self discipline
There are many benefits.
The most obvious one is that we will be able to achieve our goals and get things done. However, this is just the beginning.
We will also likely feel better about ourselves and more confident too. That increased confidence will come from our inner knowing that when we make a decision we can stick to it and get things done.
Self discipline can help us become more focused, more resilient, more persistent.
Self discipline can help us become a better, nicer, healthier, happier, more successful version of ourselves.
Discipline is important for success
Without self discipline, you may find that achieving succes in any area of life is quite challenging, impossible even.
It’s easy to give up on your goal at the first (or second) sign of difficulty. We’ve been all guilty of that many times in our lives. It’s so easy to justify to yourself that you will skip training today because you are too tired, or that your goal is not attainable because it’s just a pipe dream (and ‘What was I thinking? Most people can’t do it, what made me think for a second that I could?’).
It takes that trait of character that some also call self-mastery or self-control, to continue pursuing your goal even in the face of adversity.
We all face difficulties on our way to a goal. It’s what we do about those difficulties that will determine the outcome, that will determine whether we succeed or fail with our goal.
When faced with difficulties and unexpected obstacles, successful people will try and find another way. Unsuccessful people will give up. The difference between these two types of people often will just come down to self discipline (or lack of).
Self-discipline can help us create good habits (and break the bad habits)
Self discipline is an important ingredient to developing (or replacing) our habits.
Habits are generally developed by repetition, by doing something in a certain way over and over again, for an extended period of time.
That’s exactly how we acquire the bad habits as well. Often we may not be even consciously aware that we are doing it, until one day we notice our bad habit as a problem.
For example, we maybe overeating when stressed. This maybe okay for a while, until one day we realize that we are overweight and it’s time to do something about it.
We can also use repetition to install new habits (or changing the existing habits) in our life. This means repeating some actions, one or more times per day, for weeks and months on end. Until it becomes a habit.
Continuing with our eating when stressed example, we could decide to replace that with taking ten slow, deep breaths every time we catch ourselves getting stressed.
It takes conscious effort at the beginning, and we may even fail more times than we succeed in the early days. But if we persist, it will get easier and easier. Eventually we will begin doing it habitually. Then, one day we will realize that this is our new habit now.
This consistency of effort requires discipline. In the early days working on a new habit is likely to feel like a chore. And without discipline we are likely to come up with excuses at every opportunity. I’m too tired. It’s too late today, will do it tomorrow. I’m too busy this week. Yeah, whatever.
On the other hand, if we have the discipline to do it (or at least try) day after day, it is more than likely that this will become a normal part of our day in several weeks or months. In other words we will have developed a new habit. Yes!
Practicing self discipline doesn’t have to be hard (but it needs to be consistent)
Here are my thoughts on some things I have learned about self discipline. I’m fully aware that there will be many people that will disagree with me on this. What works for me may not work well for you and vice versa. Or may not even be appropriate ins some circumstances.
There are basically two main ways we can work on our discipline. The hard way and the soft way.
But whichever way we choose, it needs to be practiced regularly.
The hard way would be to just try to push through with willpower.
This tends to work well for me personally for things that are relatively easy, things that I do already, just not very consistently.
A good example might be writing. This is something that I enjoy doing, however I often find that my output is erratic. Some weeks I have no problem writing two thousand words (or more) in my spare time, other weeks I don’t even feel like trying.
Recently I have been pushing myself to stick to a weekly schedule and it seems to be working so far.
If I catch myself slacking off too many times, the next stage for me would be to issue myself a sixty or ninety day challenge, where I have to write a little bit every day and publish a new blog post every week.
I consider this to be a hard approach, but is is likely to get me over the line, because I enjoy writing most of the time. I just want to be more consistent with my writing.
So what’s the soft approach then?
The soft approach would be to think yourself into results. There are many techniques that can help with that, such as Napoleon Hill’s six steps.
You can rehearse in your mind the picture of you already doing the things the way you want to, already being the person that you want to become, etc.
Napoleon Hill said many times that even if you repeat a lie to yourself often enough, eventually you will start believing it. Of course he was right, that’s how propaganda works and that’s how modern advertising works. When we get bombarded with a certain message (or an ad) over and over again, after while we tend to start wondering if there may be some truth to it. In case of an ad, that product or service may finally get on our radar.
We can use repetition to our advantage when we work on our goals or when we work on our habits.
One of the soft approaches that tends to work really well for me is Sedona Method. I only wish I used it more often. Yes I know, this is another habit I need to develop. LOL.
For example, one of the things I learned from Sedona Method: let’s say you want to lose weight. You know you shouldn’t be eating that desert loaded with sugar because it’s full of ‘empty calories’ and not nutritious at all. The Sedona Method way would be to do a quick mental releasing exercise and if you still feel like eating that desert, allow yourself to do so without feeling bad about it. The key is to do the releasing exercise first. Over time you will tend to give in to the temptation less and less often.
Another soft approach that tends to work well for many people is EFT or Emotional Freedom Technique.
There are many others.
When to use a soft approach?
I personally find that it’s best to use it when either I want to achieve something that seems quite hard at the time, or if I tried the traditional ‘hard’ approach and can’t seem to be making any headway.
Ultimately you will need to find what works best for you.
Self discipline doesn’t necessarily mean being harsh on yourself. On the contrary, being harsh on yourself can sometimes be counterproductive and even unhealthy. You can work on your self discipline and still be gentle on yourself. Gentle but firm.
Self discipline is like a muscle. You develop it by working on it regularly, a little bit each time.
It’s beneficial to also work on some easier disciplines every day. They may be easy and may even seem trivial at times, but they will also contribute to the development of your ‘discipline muscle’. It’s a cumulative effect.
What are some of the easy disciplines?
How about watching your posture when you are sitting? How about going to bed before certain time each day?
These will be different for each of us, but the point is to work on something that will give you an easy win and will be beneficial at the same time.
It’s much easier to work on little everyday disciplines. This will help you build your ‘discipline muscle’ to the point where attacking larger disciplines will be much easier.
It’s like lifting weights. If you are totally unfit, lifting one hundred kilos on day one in a gym might be overwhelming and downright impossible. However, if you train your muscles consistently by lifting much smaller weights, with time lifting one hundred kilos might become very easy and after while might even feel natural.
Self discipline can help us eliminate procrastination from our life
Let’s face it, procrastination is one of the biggest killers of success. The things that we keep delaying, often indefinitely… I’m just as guilty of this as anyone.
Procrastination is also a habit.
By working on our self-discipline consistently, we may procrastinate less and less and, eventually we may be able to eliminate it completely.
Again, this will not happen overnight. Life is a game and we get to play a little bit every day.
Self discipline quotes that may inspire you
“We don’t have to be smarter than the rest; we have to be more disciplined than the rest.” Warren Buffett
“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment. Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day.” Jim Rohn
“We do today what they won’t, so tomorrow we can accomplish what they can’t.” Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson
“I could only achieve success in my life through self-discipline, and I applied it until my wish and my will became one.” Nikola Tesla
“Discipline yourself to do the things you need to do when you need to do them, and the day will come when you will be able to do the things you want to do when you want to do them.” Zig Ziglar
Until next time.