We have all heard the term self-discipline. But why do you need it and, more importantly, how do you develop it?
Self-discipline could very well be, the number one attribute of highly successful people. It is what separates the “haves” and the “have nots”.
Let’s look at 10 ways how we can improve our self-discipline.
No bullies allowed!
It’s hard to practice self-discipline when you’re listening to bullies. What’s even worse is when the bully you’re listening to is yourself. All too often, the very thing that is undermining us is our self-doubt and judgmental behavior. That is our lizard brain trying to keep us safe. It doesn’t like to change. So it brings up all the times we’ve tried and failed in the past.
So, when you hear that bully whispering in your ear, don’t listen to it. Instead, fill your mind with positive self-talk.
I can do this.
I am smart.
I am capable.
The important thing is to tailor these statements to fit you. Now go out there and repeat these phrases every day until you start believing them, and you silence all those negative voices. After all, if you’re not going to believe in yourself, then who is?
Hold your head high
We all know the expression: “Pride goes before a fall.” The truth is, we’re often told as children not to take pride in our accomplishments. While that might help a child to keep from getting a big head, as adults, that statement gets warped and bent out of shape. We’re no longer worried about hubris so much as being humble. In the end, we’re only hurting ourselves when we ascribe to it.
When we take pride in who we are and what we are becoming, we hold ourselves differently. And when we take pride in our accomplishments, we find that we start striving harder to keep with that high standard of excellence. Self-Discipline becomes easier because we love who we are and what we’re doing. So take pride in yourself and in your accomplishments towards living a more self-disciplined life.
It’s not up for discussion
How many times have you told yourself ‘no’ only to have that annoying voice in your head start up an argument? Self-discipline becomes almost impossible when you’ve got a mental checklist full of justifications and downright lies trying to convince you that falling into temptation just this once won’t matter.
The trick is to keep saying ‘no.’ Over and over. When you love yourself, then you have to set boundaries. Remind yourself that you say no because you care, and then hold onto that positive feeling of knowing you’re doing something good by sticking to your guns. That little voice? Eventually, it’ll give up and go away. Just hang in there!
Why do you care what they think?
It’s hard to become self-disciplined when you constantly have to justify yourself to those around you. The problem is, even your friends don’t know what to make of your new behavior, and being human, they can’t help but wonder just what you’re up to and why.
The problem comes in when you start feeling like you have to either justify yourself or give up because you get tired from catching too much flack. Here’s when you need to stop, take a step back, and ask yourself whose opinion is more valuable, theirs, or your own?
Loving yourself means doing what’s best for you. That includes being self-disciplined, especially when making positive changes. So tell the naysayers to get lost. They never were your friends, to begin with, if they can’t understand that.
What do you value most?
When practicing self-discipline, typically, one of the first steps we make is to set forth some guidelines. These are values that guide our behavior. But did you know that it’s these very values that can set you up for failure before you even begin?
Look carefully at the words you choose. For example, by saying, “I value good health,” you’re too vague to know what you mean exactly. Instead, you should shift that value over to more measurable amounts, such as, “I value exercising daily” or “I value eating healthy foods.” Those values are specific and quantifiable, which means you can take action on them. You can apply your new-found self-discipline to them so you see the change that will spur you onto even more motivated actions.
Get away from me!
When you care enough about yourself to set up some goals, you need to do the work to set yourself up for success in those goals. One of the first steps to take is to disassociate the temptations in your life that could cause you to stumble in moments of weakness.
Take a long, hard look at who or what you need to remove yourself from to achieve your goals. When your self-discipline muscles are stronger, you might be able to relax this requirement.
For example, it might be time to:
- Empty the cupboards of the junk food (throw it out, don’t eat it!)
- Lose the drinking buddies.
- Throw away the cigarettes
- Turn off the TV
- Set daily time limits on social media
You may feel like you’re losing a friend, but in the end, you’ll be glad you removed the temptation. It’s a lot easier to make a positive change when the negative alternatives are nowhere around!
If I want to feel good about myself, first I have to brush my teeth.
When you’re trying to exhibit self-discipline through the building of new and healthier habits, sometimes the easiest way to keep on track is to pair the new behavior with something you’re already in the habit of doing. So instead of just brushing your teeth in the morning and before bed, why not pair that with one of those positive affirmations that you’re trying to get in the habit of using.
How does this help?
By using a trigger that’s already a built-in habit, you’ll find it takes a lot less time to get that new habit in place. The beauty of it? You’re already doing quite a few things during the day that you don’t have to think about and are habits. These all become opportunities to build the you that you’ve always wanted to become.
You’re out of control!
In truth, you’re perhaps better off being a bit out of control, at least where the little things are concerned. This statement may sound counter-intuitive when you’re trying to build self-discipline. After all, shouldn’t that be what you’re doing, controlling every aspect of your life?
Unless you’re a control freak, that’s only going to drive you crazy. And truth be told, most control freaks are not happy individuals deep down where it counts. Happy, self-disciplined people know when and how to let go. Having self-discipline means controlling only the things that matter and letting go of the things that don’t.
So seriously consider what you have going on in your life and then decide. What do you want to control? The rest can take care of itself.
It’s time to celebrate!
Learning to practice self-discipline means that you will be setting some new goals and looking forward to seeing positive change. Human nature dictates that you’d probably like to see that change sooner rather than later. It’s hard to stay motivated when you feel like you’re not getting anywhere.
That’s why it’s so important to celebrate the small successes. Sure, you might not have reached the great big goal, but how do the little milestones along the way look right now? By celebrating every success, no matter how small, you remind yourself that you’re doing good. You’re making progress, and you are still on the road to achieving your larger goals.
So, give yourself a treat and then keep going.
It’s time to catch some Zzzzzz’s
You wouldn’t think that sleep is essential to self-discipline. But without a good night’s sleep, not only do you feel draggy the next day, but you’ll also find it harder to think. And it’s nearly impossible to maintain self-discipline.
That’s because willpower is a finite resource. When you’re tired, it’s very easy to run out, which is why we don’t always make our best decisions when we’re exhausted.
By making sure you get 7-9 hours of sleep every night, you’re setting yourself up for success in the world of self-discipline the next day. A rested body = a rested mind.