How to Gain Self-Discipline: 14 Helpful Tips
If you frequently have trouble following through on your intentions, completing tasks or taking steps to achieve your goals, it’s likely that you lack the self-discipline you need to succeed. A lack of self-discipline will cause you to miss out on opportunities and decrease the quality of your life.
Self-discipline is not something that you are born with. It’s something that you develop over time and requires practice and patience. Self-discipline requires effort on your part and must become a priority to succeed.
Self-discipline can be defined as controlling your impulses, emotions, desires, and behavior to gain the long-term satisfaction of achieving your goals. It is about acting according to what you think rather than how you feel in the moment. Some of this entails delayed gratification for something bigger and better later on.
A disciplined life helps you stay healthy and happier. It gives you a sense of achievement through sustained focus and helps you make positive and rational decisions on a daily basis. Think before you act. Sleep on it if necessary.
If the lack of discipline is an obstacle in your life, here are some changes you can make to gain self-discipline. Leading an orderly life reduces stress and anxiety.
- Don’t wait to feel motivated. Waiting to feel motivated to do something will never help you become disciplined. If you wait until you feel like exercising or wait for motivation to work on a project, chances are you will never meet your fitness goal or your work deadline. Discipline is doing things even when you don’t feel like it. It is about changing your routine and habits. When behavior becomes a habit, you start doing things on autopilot.
Hence, breaking a bad habit requires that you make active decisions. Your brain will resist the change, but embrace the new change and feel good about it. Keep repeating it, and it will start to happen more naturally. Get motivation from the world around you.
- Ditch the temptations. When working toward self-discipline, remove all temptations and distractions from your environment.
For instance, if you are trying to focus on your work, turn off your phone, switch off the television, block your social networking alerts or declutter your desk to help you devote your attention to your project.
- Start small. Self-discipline is not something that you can achieve overnight. It takes time to gain self-discipline. The more you practice at it, the more self-discipline you’ll develop. Allow yourself to experience some small successes, then work towards larger goals.
- Establish a daily routine. Once you’ve determined your goals, establish a daily routine to help you achieve those goals.
For instance, if your goal is to get up at 5 a.m. every day, make it a habit. Do it every single day, so it becomes a part of your routine. The initial stages of your daily routine may be difficult to fall into. Be persistent, give yourself a small reward for sticking to your routine.
- Eat timely and healthy. Low blood sugar weakens a person’s focus and concentration. Hunger stops your brain from functioning at its highest potential. It can even make you pessimistic and grumpy.
When you are hungry, you have a weakened sense of control and resolve. Thus, you’re more likely to give in to temptations. Eat healthy snacks and meals every few hours. Eating healthy regulates blood sugar levels and improves your decision-making skills and concentration. A healthy diet is crucial to good health and preventing disease.
- Focus on the long-term goal. When you keep your focus on the long-term outcome, you will feel motivated to take action.
- Don’t fall for excuses. Self-discipline is a tough struggle, and your mind will come up with a lot of excuses. Don’t fall for your excuses. Be honest with yourself.
There’s a reason for your struggle. For instance, be honest with yourself if you are not going for a jog because you are feeling lazy. When you are honest with yourself, you’ll try harder to overcome the excuses.
- When you have setbacks, forgive yourself and move on. You will have your ups and downs. Acknowledge them and keep moving forward. Don’t get wrapped up in guilt or anger. Instead, use it as a lesson and a learning experience. Forgive yourself for your setbacks. Commit never to quit.
- Create a deadline. If you have an external deadline, you will work harder to meet it. External deadlines and expectations from others can boost your drive to succeed. If you don’t have an external deadline, create a deadline for yourself.
For instance, if you plan to complete a project by next week, tell others about your plan. Give them a date as to when you plan to complete it and ask them to remind you of your deadline before it arrives. Build a little flexibility into your plan to allow for possible delays or setbacks.
- Ignore negativity. There might be people who tell you that whatever you are trying to achieve is a tough job and nearly impossible. On the contrary, work harder and prove them wrong by achieving success. Never accept negativity from people who themselves haven’t achieved what you are trying to achieve. There will always be critics and those who will tell you this is impossible. Going to the moon at first seemed impossible, but we succeeded. Make a plan and work it. Listen to yourself, not others.
- Take up sports. Find a sport that you will enjoy as sports help you practice self-discipline. It helps you focus your mental and emotional energy on achieving goals. It teaches you to work hard and strive to do your best. When you gain self-discipline in any one area of your life, it tells your brain to choose what is right rather than taking any shortcuts in other areas of your life.
- Practice self-restraint. Learn to say ‘no’ to some of your urges and impulses. Hedonism is not a good quality. Practice doing what is right rather than doing what you feel in the moment. Practice this in your day-to-day life as often as possible. For instance, stop yourself from eating chocolate pudding even if you crave it, stop the urge to yell at your kids and stop your impulsive shopping. When you practice self-control, it will soon become second nature to control your urges and do what is right. This will gradually help you develop self-discipline.
- Get inspiration from people you admire. Having a role model will motivate and inspire you. You can take inspiration from anyone–be it a former colleague, a world leader or a friend. This inspiration will motivate you to keep striving to reach your goals. Read the autobiographies of those famous figures you admire.
- Visualize your rewards. Practice the technique of visualizing your desired outcome. This will motivate you to work toward achieving that outcome.
Feel how rewarding and enthralling it is to see yourself reach your goals. Think of the benefits you will enjoy. By focusing on the long-term benefits instead of short-term discomfort, you’ll motivate yourself and become more disciplined. A little daydreaming followed by action can get you to where you want to be.