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  • October 04, 2022 5 min read

    If there’s anything the Internet has in abundance aside from opinions, it’s advice: from celebrities, self help gurus, and Facebook posts from your very own family, friends and co-workers, based on their own experiences, everybody has something to say about how to succeed in life. But often overlooked, at the root of most advice is this: true success is all up to you. It begins with how disciplined you are. 

    There are, undoubtedly, many ways to be successful in any area of your life. Being more organized, changing your mindset, and developing good habits are a few common ways to get the ball rolling. However, without self discipline, it’s downright impossible to commit to any of these things and more. In the words of Jim Rohn, “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” It’s absolutely essential if we ever want access to the road that leads to our better selves.  

     

    What is self-discipline anyway?

    Lifehack defines it as “the ability to control yourself and to make yourself work hard or behave in a particular way without needing anyone else to tell you what to do.” They further expand by adding: “It’s about self-control, self-regulation, willpower, resolve, determination and drive.”  

    Now how many of us actually have self discipline, especially when it matters? We want a lot of things but do little to get them. More than just limiting our mobile phone use, social media exposure, or Netflix binge watching, not many people seem to have the discipline to eat healthy, exercise regularly, or observe practices and hobbies that can help enrich their lives.

    This is why in today’s article, to change the game and bring us closer to success, we want to look at the ways we can develop self discipline! 

     

    1. It’s not a punishment.  

    In this day and age of excess, people who self-regulate are seen as “killjoys” which shows how much we’ve misunderstood the concept of self discipline. We see it as a type of penalty, something unpleasant that we have to endure whether or not it’s supposed to help us become better. Therefore, it’s crucial to reshape how we look at it. By shifting our focus away from its negative connotations, we can start seeing it as a means to achieve our goals instead.

    Self care comes full circle when we start looking at perspectives that are the complete opposite of our own—not just handpicked ones that align with the narratives we choose. It pays to ask the same questions about others that we ask ourselves: what do you think they were feeling during the experience? What could have driven them to react the way they did or say what they said? We can discover a lot by looking at our own actions and even more if we ask the person/s involved, if at all possible.

    The problem is, according to Psychology Today, “our instinct is to seize the reward at hand”. It simply is part of our evolution and is one of the reasons why we have a hard time with limits, even ones that we’ve set ourselves. However, this doesn’t mean we can’t conquer the discomfort of delayed gratification. It all boils down to mindset.

    For example, when deciding to eat fast food versus a home cooked meal, it’s easier to choose the former because of convenience. Home cooked meals, after all, are time consuming to prepare. Additionally, there are times when the last thing you want to do after a tiring day is to go through the trouble of cooking for yourself. However, a home cooked meal costs less and, in the long run, money you would’ve spent paying for expensive takeout plus delivery fees can either go toward more important things or straight to your savings account.

    It’s going to take a lot of effort and it won’t be easy, but the key is to try and keep trying, everyday, to see the long term rewards of the choices we make. We need to stop thinking about how self discipline is stopping us from getting what we want now, but rather how it’s paving the way for something worthwhile later.

     

    2. It comes from within.

    You can read the best self-help book in the world or work with the number one life coach in the world and still not have self discipline. This is because you can’t find it anywhere else but in you. I know, I know; that sounds a bit like a cheesy line from a kid’s movie but it’s true! External factors can only do so much—yes, they can inspire or motivate you to finally start taking action, but whether you sustain your momentum and keep doing whatever you’re doing will largely depend on many internal factors including how well disciplined you are.  

    Does this mean you should disregard any advice altogether? No, not at all! Good advice is always helpful. However, the best person who knows yourself is you. Since the majority of the advice you watch and read is subjective and often based on the experiences of one person or a limited group of people, it’s important to know when to start looking inward to figure out what will work specifically for you. Take note of someone else’s best practices but know that it may not be the same as yours. And that’s ok.  

     

    3. “Show up” even if you don’t want to.  

    Sometimes, it’s futile to wait for motivation or inspiration before doing anything. We can’t put our lives on hold—and waste other people’s time—just because our muse is nowhere to be found. Self discipline is invaluable in moments like these: it helps you get started on the work needed for you to move forward, grow, achieve your goals, complete a task, and so on, regardless if you have the drive or not.

    What if you have a critical deadline next week but can’t seem to find it in yourself to get started? Will you wait until the last minute, at which point you’ll still have to do it anyway despite lack of motivation or inspiration? There are only two outcomes in such a scenario: you’ll either do terribly or have no finished product at all.

    But if you have self discipline, even when it’s impossible or extra difficult, without an ounce of motivation or the slightest of inspiration, you’ll “show up”. You’ll do the work even if it takes all of your willpower. The beauty of doing this is that sometimes, you’ll discover that you know what to do all along.

    You simply needed to begin.  

    Still waiting for motivation to pay you a visit? Then this article is for you: three ways you can find motivation and stay motivated. This blog about procrastination might also help!

     

    4. Take accountability.

    When things go wrong, what’s the first thing you do? Do you look at the external factors that had an impact on this horrible situation you find yourself in or take note of the internal ones instead—the things you can avoid or change next time in order to prevent this same thing from happening ever again?

    Part of self discipline is knowing when to take accountability of our actions and the choices we make. It’s easy to put the blame elsewhere when things aren’t going right, but in the process, we rob ourselves of the chance to grow. This is because once we point fingers, we’re no longer looking inward or thinking about what we can change, learn, from what we’re going through. If you’re accountable to yourself, then you will keep your promises and do what you say you’ll do.

     

    Conclusion

    Self discipline is, undeniably, the most vital ingredient to success. It will take a lot of work and effort, yes, but it’s entirely achievable—athletes are a perfect example. If they can do it, then so can you, no matter which part of your life you’re trying to work on.

    Do you think you’ve mastered self discipline? What did the road toward self discipline look like? If it’s something that you’re still working on, share your challenges and triumphs! We’d love to hear from you!

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