“Our ability to discipline yourself to set clear goals, and then to work toward them every day, will do more to guarantee your success than any other single factor…”
– Brian Tracy
Been wanting to become more disciplined? Whether you’re looking to instill self-control in terms of your work, health & fitness, finances, or life in general, there’s definitely much to benefit from cultivating (and maintaining) a strong sense of discipline.
After all, having more self-control can result in one having improved resilience, better health, and more success when it comes to achieving long-term goals.
This may come as a surprise but contrary to popular beliefs, studies also have found those who have high self-discipline tend to be happier than those that lack discipline.
No matter which aspect(s) of life you’re looking to improve, below, you’ll find 5 potent steps that when applied consistently can help you strengthen self-discipline.
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But first, what exactly is self-discipline?
While willpower and self-discipline are often used interchangeably, they’re not quite the same. That said, they do relate to each other.
Willpower is essentially your capability on staying focused on a task. Self-discipline, however, is referring to your commitment to taking consistent action in order to strengthen your willpower.
So how can we improve self-discipline?
Get to know yourself
Understanding your strengths as well as the room for improvements aka your ‘weaknesses’ may arguably be the most important step to take in order to cultivate unshakeable sef-discipline.
Set aside some time to reflect and be honest about the habits that have been working for you and what haven’t.
For example, if you’re a morning person and have the most energy in the earlier part of the day and you tend to tackle the easy tasks first, this is definitely a habit that you’d need to change.
If you’re looking to make the most of your day, you’d need to prioritize the most challenging things on your to-do list.
Alternatively, if you’re a night owl, you probably will benefit from tackling the more challenging tasks in the latter part of your day.
Asking those around you to share their observations of your habits may also help you to identify things that you can work on that you may have previously overlooked.
Break it down
Does the thought of instilling new habits seem too large or daunting? If so, it may be in your best interest to keep them simple and break them down into smaller doable steps.
Instead of overwhelming yourself by expecting a full transformation to happen overnight, insist on taking one step at a time. And give yourself a realistic timeline.
Once you’re more comfortable, you may opt to take larger steps. The key is to keep taking forward movement while keeping your focus on your ‘ultimate’ goal.
Truth is, no one is born with self-discipline. The difference between those who have more self-control and those who lack it is the commitment to work on it day in and day out. Just like any skill, it requires consistent practice and repetition.
When it comes to cultivating a lifelong habit, as the old proverb says, “slow & steady wins the race.”
Focus on the (positive) outcome
One of the biggest reasons we often drag our feet on a task or lack follow-through on a goal is that many of us tend to focus on all the ways that our efforts can go wrong vs. what can go right.
Having a positive mindset toward change can help us not only jump-start our transformation but also keep us motivated to keep going when things get tough.
This is a prime example of how self-fulfilling prophecy can actually work in our favor instead of against us.
When coupled with strong emotions and feelings, the act of visualization can be quite powerful. This is because our brain doesn’t know how to tell whether it’s real or not. So, the more that we consistently visualize positive outcomes, the more that our mind will help us ‘act’ in ways that’ll make them a reality.
Let’s face it, old habits die hard and they can be extremely hard to change.
In order to keep you motivated, it may be a good idea to reward yourself whenever you’ve made good progress.
These seemingly quizzical victories are just as instrumental because they are the necessary steps that lead us to our “big” achievements.
Depending on your preference, the reward can vary from splurging on a day at the spa to getting yourself that new gadget you’ve had your eyes on.
That said, while giving yourself a pat on the back for consistent steps you take towards your goal is definitely recommended, be mindful to not use it as an excuse to spend beyond your means.
Find a mentor and/or an accountability buddy
Need some guidance and/or support? One of the best ways to get it is to seek out a mentor or someone you respect that already has the level of self-discipline you’d like to cultivate.
While not all of their methods may necessarily work for you, chances are, they’ve been in your shoes and faced multiple challenges and obstacles along the way. Their tips & tricks may prove to be valuable and help you to avoid the pitfalls that they’ve faced firsthand.
Alternatively, you can also find an accountability partner. Whether they’re a spouse, friend, trainer, or coach, it’s important to select someone that you can trust.
They should be those who cheer you on but more importantly, they’ll be able to hold you accountable when you’re not making the steps you need to take towards your goal.
With a good support system, you’re more likely to stick to your goals and feel more confident in your abilities to achieve them.
As much as we wish that we can wave a magic wand and instantly become more disciplined, the only sustainable way to gain more self-control is through consistency.
After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day. But perhaps after a few weeks of practice, you may just be pleasantly surprised how much progress you’ve made.
That said, if you do fall off the bandwagon, cut yourself some slack. Don’t let your slip-ups deter you. Remember that you can always get back on track.
Ultimately, all of us can cultivate unshakeable self-discipline if we persist in trying, failing, and getting back up again – no matter what.
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