Self-discipline is simply one’s ability to control desires, feelings, and impulses and overcome weaknesses. It’s the ability to do something regardless of how you feel. People with a high level of self-control are able to make positive choices more easily. They don’t let their feelings or emotions make decisions for them. Having self-discipline means that a person spends less time procrastinating and more time doing what they intend to do. This leads to higher levels of satisfaction in day-to-day life. In fact, studies have shown that greater levels of self-discipline can lead to greater happiness.
Although we may not all be naturally gifted with great self-control, the good news is that it can be learned. We can all build self-discipline. Small consistent efforts are all that’s needed. Are you ready to take control of your emotions? Here are 8 simple to implement techniques to help you develop great self-discipline and lead a happier more fulfilling life.
8 Ways To Build Self-Discipline
1/ Write down your goals
Be clear what your goals are and why you want to accomplish them. This is crucial. Write your goals and motivations on a post-it and put it above your computer keyboard, on your mirror, your fridge or anywhere you’ll see it regularly. Your reasons for wanting to be self-disciplined outweigh mere willpower. They will remind you regularly of real-world reasons for sticking at it.
2/ Cultivate new habits
Self-discipline is a habit like anything else, or more precisely, it’s a group of habits that we can learn, one by one. The trick is to take note of your current habits. Notice those that are not in your best interest such as eating junk food, sitting for long periods staring at the television or browsing social network sites, and exchange them one by one with healthier habits. This leads to the next tip…
3/ Start small
Don’t try to change too much too quickly. Suddenly getting up earlier, doing huge amounts of exercise, following a new diet and working extra hours on your new business idea may seem good for the first few days but it’s a sure route to burnout. Make small changes and stick to them, then gradually add more, sculpting your life gradually into a new sustainable shape.
4/ Pinpoint your weaknesses and then avoid the temptation
Take a look at your life and pinpoint the moments when you tend to succumb to temptation. Is it when you walk past a particular shop or café and end up buying and eating something you didn’t intend? Is it when you spend too long on the sofa with your smartphone, browsing social media or silly jokes and videos? Once you have established the main areas you’d like to change, develop strategies to implement this change. Walk a different route to avoid cafés or cake shops. Switch off your phone and tablet until you’ve completed the other tasks that are more important to you. Take it one day at a time and keep a tally of when you are successful in avoiding temptation – this will help motivate you and show you, in moments of weakness, that you are capable of resisting your weaknesses.
5/ Learn to forgive yourself
Building self-discipline is an important life-skill to cultivate but so is self-forgiveness. Studies have shown that people are prone to giving up completely after a small failure or set-back. Allowing yourself to fail from time to time, and then to get back on track, is an amazingly powerful habit. Always remind yourself that failing from time to time is not a sign that you can’t do this. It’s a sign that you’re human and that all you need to do is be kind to yourself and try again.
6/ Eliminate distractions
Easier said than done… but try to eliminate as many distractions as possible. When you need to work or perform certain tasks, clear and clean your desk or work area, find a quiet room away from family, phones, and pets, turn off Wi-Fi or mobile data so you don’t receive unwanted messages, wear headphones or earplugs… there are many ways to eliminate distractions. The trick is to notice what distracts you the most and find a way to minimise the impact on your concentration and goals.
7/ Prioritise your tasks and activities
As no one has an infinite amount of hours in the day, it is essential to prioritise how you use your time. Make a list each morning (or the night before, if you have time) listing the tasks that you really complete. Follow it with the things that you really want to do, in descending order of importance to your overall plan. This can also help with feelings of being overwhelmed with too much to do. Just follow the list, tick things off one by one and let the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction grow.
8/ Slice larger tasks into smaller steps
When you feel overwhelmed and lack the self-discipline to start a large task, use the simple tactic of breaking a big task into smaller steps. For instance, if you have a report to write that you know will take hours, take a deep breath, have a good stretch, then promise yourself to sit and work for thirty minutes. You’re not promising yourself the world, it’s no longer overwhelming, but you will motivate yourself to make a start, and that in itself will motivate you to do another thirty minutes (after a reward of a cup of coffee perhaps). In this way you can move forward more easily, getting a feeling of satisfaction and momentum and keeping your energy and happiness at a higher level.
Simply implementing a few of these techniques will help improve your self-discipline. The improvements will be obvious, boosting your morale and raising your motivation to make more and bigger changes. And very soon strong self-discipline will be a habit that you couldn’t imagine being without.
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