We often encounter this term, whenever we are talking about self-improvement and we know that almost every good habits and being successful requires this. Others also consider this as one of their foundations to success.
I assumed that you also did this and check in google search “How to be successful?” and then ended up reading materials that mentioned this word. I am certainly sure too when you were searching for “Tips on how to be productive” you’ve encountered this word again. But what does this word really means?
Merriam-Webster defines self-discipline as
“correction or regulation of oneself for the sake of improvement”
“the ability to make yourself do things that should be done”
It has this distinct phrase that makes it so special “regulate” and “do things that should be done”. We often refer a person with self-discipline if he can still do things even though he doesn’t like doing it.
Those people that can PRIORITIZE THINGS OVER WHAT THEY FEEL. Those people who can CONTROL themselves WHATEVER THE CIRCUMSTANCES. Those are the people we admire the most, that we often thought to ourselves “How can I be like that?” or “How can he even do that?”
We are often left with amazement and ended up telling to ourselves when we decided to give up that “I can’t do that, I am not like that”. We have to think that self-discipline is never a God-given talent that only few people were chosen. Self-discipline is a MASTERY OF ONESELF, to control yourself despite the external and internal pressure to do or not to do certain things. If this is a mastery, it means that it is a SKILL that you have to practice and keep on using for you to hone and be able to fully engage or utilized it.
We should never think that self-discipline is a winning lottery ticket that only few were chosen. It will never be. People who possess this skill, was able to identify and master controlling themselves. They NEVER started having the utmost self-discipline where they can resist everything all at once. THEY ARE ONCE LIKE YOU DREAMING OF BECOMING BETTER AND BETTER.
Now, the question is “How do these people mastered this skill?”
You must know and do the following, for you to gain the ability to control yourself:
1. Control your environment
Which place would you most likely be able to read or study, at the bar or at library? I guess the answer is obvious here.
As you are still improving your self-discipline skills there are still a lot of resistance whenever you wanted to do something, and your ability to control yourself is still considered as novice.
The easiest way for you to build you self-discipline is control your environment. We people are greatly being affected by our environment, we often react or respond to our environment and that’s part of our human nature. Whenever you decided to do something it was all because of the internal and external factors within and around you, respectively, this is how your environment significantly affects you and your decisions.
Thus, you have to look around you and ensure that your environment aligns with what you wanted to do in the first place.
You have to keep in mind that YOUR ENVIRONMENT IS NOT JUST THE THINGS THAT SURROUNDS YOU BUT ALSO THE PEOPLE AROUND YOUR CIRCLE. If you wanted to build a habit of working out, go to the gym or be with people who encourages you to exercise on a regular basis. We must understand that building the ability to control ourselves would take some time and the fastest way to start is to control your environment. Ask yourself the following things:
- Is there anything around me that affects my productivity or my focus?
- What are the things that often distracts me?
- Who are the people I normally go with?
- Are the people and things around me positively impacts me?
- How can I lessen the distraction and people that negatively impacts me?
These probing questions allow you to identify and find solution and slowly build your self-discipline. This is the initial step and the most convenient way for you to build you self-discipline.
2. Search deep within your “Why?”
This is the most difficult but the most influential one. We are often confused why people have so much dedication in doing something. Why they still do things even though it is very challenging to them. Why some people wake up early in the morning just to work out, why some people stop using social media just to detox, why some people choose to read than to play their favorite computer games.
Have you ask those questions before? Certainly. But once you’ve got to know their story and listen to their words, you immediately have this feeling of commitment within those people. That THEY HOLD ON TO THEIR COMMITMENT AND FOUND THE UNENDING REASON TO KEEP GOING despite all the challenges.
Now, start thinking and looking beyond yourself, find the deepest emotion why you wanted something. Look at your past, those past experiences, bitter or happy moments. These will fuel and create your why.
Once you’ve found it, all you must do is to keep reminding yourself. This will be the compelling reason that extinguishes all excuses of not doing things that should be done. I know this may sound so idealistic but trust me, this is what most successful people have.
They know their “Why”.
3. Not thinking and just doing.
I think we are all a victim of our own minds. We often let ourselves submit to what our minds tell us. Often times when we encounter challenges and hindrances our mind tells us to quit or not do it. That’s how our body is designed, we have this self-defense that when our mind sense uncomfortable situation or overwhelming circumstances our mind sends a message to us and commands us to resist or retreat.
This can be proven when you have a certain project that needs to be done in several months. Often, we can’t start early and whenever we try it, our mind resists. We usually let these things slide until we’ve sense the urgency to do it.
If you wanted to build your self-discipline, sometimes the easiest thing to do is just do it. DON’T LET YOUR MIND THINK OF HUNDREDS OF REASONS WHY YOU DON’T WANT TO DO IT. Just do it! At the moment you thought that you have to do it. Remember, the moment that you’ve listen to your mind, that’s the time that it will create all the excuses, until you’ve fallen trapped and decided not do it.
Just do it and don’t let your mind find any excuses before you do it.
4. Create pressure!
The reason why people set deadlines is that without deadlines nothing will be completed. Have you seen a project without any deadline? Perhaps there are some, but I’m more curious if it has been completed. This is based on Parkinson’s law, that we people tend to expand the task based on the set timeline. And often, maybe at first impossible, when it is due, we still manage to finish it. It may be not as good as if when longer time was given but the point is, it is still done.
SETTING PRESSURE TO OURSELVES CREATES THIS ADRENALINE THAT FORCES US TO MOVE, this forces you to do things even though you didn’t like it. This is a good way for you to start building your self-discipline, whenever you wanted to finish something, create a deadline for yourself and push yourself to finish it.
That’s the wonders of setting your own deadlines. And if you still stumble in meeting your own deadlines, try increasing the stake. Something that you wouldn’t necessarily refuse not doing it. This is just the same with pointing a gun at your head and will shoot at you if you didn’t finish it. I am 100% confident that you will finish it no matter what happens.
Don’t forget that nothing can be accomplished without any deadlines. ALWAYS HAVE YOUR OWN.
5. Start small…
As I’ve said earlier, self-discipline is a mastery and not a God-given talent. Start practicing it bit by bit and start with something that helps you in building the momentum. Try making you bed in the morning and cold showers, these might be trivial tasks, but these help you build your self-discipline. It is not actually the specific task but the fact that you are forcing yourself to do something even though you feel like not doing it.
And the cool thing here is, it is not something that there is a huge stake in the end. Also, everyone can do this. REMEMBER TO START SMALL AND LET THE MOMENTUM BUILD UP, you can notice after a month that it became easier for you to resists things and choose doing something what needs to be done. Now start doing small things and see how your self-discipline grows.
Self-discipline is a skill that we all need to master. It might be overwhelming at first, but it is like a muscle that the more you train it, the stronger it gets. Do the things I have given you above and see for yourself how it will significantly boost your discipline.