How do you build self-discipline into your everyday life? In building self-discipline, 100% is easier than 90% because once you get the momentum going it’s a lot easier to manage and keep it at a steady pace…than trying to regain momentum.
Almost all major breakthroughs & success in life are spiced with high doses of self-discipline and perseverance. Self-discipline is that one thing everybody wants but very few people get. Just like wealth.
And contrary to popular belief, self-discipline is not a punishing act. Or an act of being too harsh on oneself. It is not something that should be viewed as hard or impossible. But instead, it is a life skill everyone should work to have.
What is Self Discipline?
Self-discipline is doing what you should do whether you feel like or not.
Merriam Webster says, “It is the correction or regulation of oneself for the sake of improvement.”
According to the Cambridge dictionary:
“Self-discipline is the ability to make yourself do things you know you should do even when you do not want to.
Simply, I’ll define it as a skill that gives you the ability to go after what you want and get it– no matter what. It is a skill that helps turn your dreams into reality.
Self discipline is a magic wand
If I told you of a magic wand that can bring your fantasies to life. I mean, “Viola!” and they appear, wouldn’t you want it?
Self-discipline is that magic wand. Though it doesn’t work as magically as the actual wand (that’s if it exists,) the result is the same— your dreams turned into reality.
The discipline of self is an indispensable tool for survival. Not just for survival, but for thriving in this world.
Self-discipline vs Comfort zone
Most of us know the right choices to make but enjoy our comfort zones; enjoy giving excuses because it’s easy.
You need discipline to do things that helps you reach your goals. You don’t need more motivation to make the right choices all you need is a commitment.
Self-discipline begins with the mastery of your thoughts.
Take control of your mind.
“The price of greatness is Responsibility over your thoughts.” – Winston Churchill.
Where is Self-discipline needed?
There are a lot of things you have to discipline yourself on. Some of which could be:
1. Your finances:
Building wealth starts from training your mind. It’s important to control your spending on irrelevances and avoid spending to impress others.
Make your financial decisions for long-term goals not short-term. Invest in reliable companies, savings will keep your money but investment grows your money.
“The way you lose is by getting worried about a great company’s short-term hiccup rather than buying on the dip and being a partner with that business for years and decades.” – John MacKey (Conscious Capitalism, Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business)
2. Your Sexual health
I saw a post on twitter on self-control by Lovers’ Guide:
“Low value women seek attention with their bodies.
Weak men give them attention.”
This hit me so much; it’s very important to control your body.
3. Your health
Your health is far too important not to pay attention to unless they it goes wrong. It starts with what you put in your body and how you move your body.
You should take food that has a lot of nutritional value. Exercise regularly. Don’t take things that you know would affect you on the long run.
4. Career/building a business
Self-discipline by the owner is amongst the most important reasons why businesses fail.
Every challenging business demands self-discipline.
How to Build your Self Discipline: 9 ways to build Self-Discipline
1. Set Clear Goals.
The purpose of self-discipline is to achieve goals, right? That means you have to set those goals first.
And don’t just set any goals– set clear ones.
“Get control of my money.” is a goal. But it is not a clear one.
“Make my first million in the next three years.” Now, this is a clear goal.
Set goals that can be quantified and attach a time frame to them.
Don’t just stop there. How do you wish to achieve that goal?
Make it very clear.
2. Visualize The Results Of Those Goals.
How would you live if you were a millionaire?
What type of clothes would you wear? Would you drive a car? Build a house?
Take time to visualize the type of life you will lead when you achieve your goals. It would become your reason to push on on the days you don’t want to.
Because, there’ll be days you want to give up, days you feel like it’s too hard. But if you have a picture of what you want and why you are fighting, you will keep going.
It is just like a marathon race. The promise of a price is what keeps the tired athletes going, even if they want to give up.
3. Build solid habits
Start building structure – it gets easier then because you don’t allow yourself to digress too much.
Realize and accept that willpower is limited – create ritual such as morning rituals – key among them is to do the hardest task first thing in the morning.
Create rituals & habits that will reinforce your way to your goals and accomplishments. You’re going to fail when your habits don’t match your aspirations.
If you’re not getting the results you want in any area of your life in the first place you need to have a closer look at your habits and routine. – Karin Knoetze
4. Start Small.
This is where most people miss it. The moment they decide that they want to become disciplined, they drastically change their routine. They replace all their bad habits with good ones immediately.
After a week, most of them crash and conclude practicing self-discipline is hard.
But it’s not. You just want it to happen in this moment — like in fairy tales.
Start small. Change one habit at a time. Remember, slow and steady wins the race.
How to “microdose” your self-discipline to full potency
Don’t try to change immediately.
Start off with micro steps each day, write down and celebrate your wins. Add on habit at a time and do it slowly.
Pick one thing to do and decide to do it daily, commit to it and do it every day, consistently.
You will need to become very self-aware (so you’ll notice if you’ve stopped) and it should probably be something you care about.
Over time you will develop, improve, and learn all that self-discipline requires of you or time would pass, you’ll do it every day, and you’ll realize you had it all along.
Cold showers and self-discipline
A complex connection with dopamine, a neurotransmitter, has also been discovered to aid improve motivation when people are submerged in cold water.
Taking cold showers can help you develop discipline. Personally, I’ve done over 6-months straight of cold showers on one particular period.
Putting yourself in uncomfortable situations builds your discipline and your tolerance for uncomfortable things, which can help you do harder things in other areas of life.
P.S: Cold showers should be used first thing in the morning to wake you up while taking a hot shower in the evening to help you sleep.
Start slowly if you want to start this habit as submerging yourself into blast cold water can shock your system and even cause heart problems.
You can decide to start waking up early. And when you feel you’ve mastered it, move on to the next habit you want to change.
5. Practice Delayed Gratification.
Self-discipline is doing what you should do even when you don’t want to — or when you want to do something more pleasurable.
The reason why people aren’t disciplined is that they pick immediate pleasures over activities that help them in the long term.
Instead of starting your day with “Netflix and chill” why don’t you sit and work on your plans for that day.
Learn to push your desires to a later time and make your goals the priority.
6. Make your Environment work for you
When you identify your triggers within your environment which is a continuous process decide how you can minimize the effect those cues have on you.
Taking these out and deciding to live without them can be a life saver.
7. Get An Accountability Partner.
Yes. You might not be able to be accountable to yourself, especially at the beginning. So get a friend or partner that would hold you accountable.
This person should be someone you respect. And in turn, the person should be invested in your growth and success.
Having someone to hold you accountable prevents you from getting away with the flimsy excuses you give yourself.
8. Raise the bar
When you lower the bar to do things you’ve decided not to do because of their negative effects they pose on your life; you open room for guilt, regret and more cover-ups.
Double down on stuff you hate to do and do them. But don’t allow yourself fall into the guilt trap.
9. Practice Self Forgiveness.
This is very important because there will be days you won’t be able to meet up.
There will be days you will fall back to your old self even when you think you’ve burnt the bridges behind you.
You would need to be able to forgive yourself.
The journey to attaining self-discipline is paved with good intentions but it is not a smooth ride.
Learn to forgive yourself for the times you will be discouraged, the times you will turn around, and the times you will drag your feet and whine all day. After all, you are only human.
“Every time we fall or make mistakes; we gotta get back up and fight on.” – Good, Bad, Ugly – Lecrae.
How do you learn self discipline and self control?
It starts with being strategic with your time and resources, persevere during hardship and your willingness to be accountable to yourself.
Discipline is the only thing that will truly make you happy because nothing gets done unless you have it.
Self-discipline is a mindset, and can be developed through different strategies e.g. habit change and accountability. Understand why self-discipline is important and what benefits it can bring you.
10 ways to Learn Self-Discipline:
1: Know your why
One of the quickest ways to learn and build self-discipline is to find why you want to change a “habit” and make it the desire that will fuel your progress.
If you don’t have a solid why to keep you grounded, self-discipline sounds like another torture only the military and gym freaks have.
But it’s beyond fitness or joining the military E.g. if you think of how toxic “gossip” affects cultures then you can decide to stop engaging in conversations about others behind their back.
It takes self-discipline to avoid talking about people in their absence and to take on this habit today you got to learn self-discipline.
So first: what do you want to work towards and why? Return to that every day whether that be through affirmations, movement, meditation, holding a piece of paper with it written down… next, identify all distractions- and REMOVE THEM!
2: Choose discipline over motivation
To build self-discipline as a habit – one must take it as a decision.
It’s NOT something you do only when you feel like – it’s a choice you cultivate over motivation.
Eventually you will encounter days where you feel not doing those commitment and that is the times where you must do them.
3: Choose yourself
James Altutcher wrote a book “Choose Yourself” It takes choosing yourself and loving yourself to be self-disciplined.
Often people only focus on motivation and willpower, forgetting that an intrinsic desire coupled with kindness and gentleness work as well.
I got this perspective from a friend and I find it amazing:
“It is difficult to change something if your thought is “I have to change this and this, I am a failure because it’s taking me so much time, why didn’t I already change it”. There is a lot of internal resistance there. And from here you often have procrastination, laziness, non-consistency, self-sabotaging, excuses and so on.
If you shift your mindset to “I want to change the habit of X because I believe that Y is better for myself, and will bring me more self-confidence, …” you are already tapping in your inner power!”
The only way for you to have discipline is to love yourself enough to have it, because when you love yourself you will then realize that you want more out of life and you’re no longer satisfied with how it’s going.
4: Take baby steps
Rather than only reading self-discipline from books and resources like this – start taking small steps to develop it.
Practice is the best way to create new habits in your life. Start doing it. Start with small steps of discipline, once you win the habits, gradually add more disciplines to your life.
Just start practicing with little things like that and discipline follows. E.g
- Lower the glasses of drinks you take on a social gathering to get control over any addiction to alcohol.
- Writing a page instead of none.
- Water instead of soda.
- 5 mins walk in the morning then gradually increase the difficulty.
- Set an alarm 20 minutes before your normally get up and don’t hit snooze.
5: Think long term
Self discipline is something that needs building over time!
Most of the biggest traps we fall into occur when we only think of the short-term.
E.g. I find when people drink 5-10 bottles of booze at once – the common thinking and mantra is “You only live once.”
And suddenly everyone becomes cool with getting wasted at the moment and the poor choices they make afterwards.
If you take a look 3-5 years ahead from now – where would you like to find yourself?
I think that most people struggle with self-discipline because they do not have a compelling narrative of the future. If you love the image of what you would become and believe that you have a strategy that can achieve it, self-discipline is a lot easier. Do you have a detailed story of a beautiful future you are committed to?
Are the habits you’re cultivating presently taking you closer or away from those goals?
6: Associate with the right people
Energy flows where attention goes. Surround yourself with the right people can accelerate the process of learning self-discipline or thwart your progress.
It’s up to you to find more of this people to associate with and network.
Resources such as books like Atomic Habits, the One thing can change your life.
7: Commit to your Vision and Goals
Learn to tie the actions you take to an outcome, and that outcome should be aligned with your goals, and those goals should ‘add up’ to the future vision that you have for yourself.
When you do this, every action taken is clearly linked to an emotionally tied goal, so the importance of the action is evident.
This also helps you to prioritize tasks as it is clearly defined which is the most important, so you don’t get stuck between urgent and important – this alone prevents overwhelm and procrastination, which are key inhibitors of high performance.
8: Get an accountability partner
Get a Coach, a friend or relative that is supportive but who will keep you on your path. Find someone to hold you accountable on the actions you want to take.
Whatever you’re trying to do/not to do, is there someone that can join you? Much more difficult to slip if there is two of you!
A coach would hold your hands and keep you accountable!
9: Choose Growth over stagnation
Do you want to stay in your comfort zone or step on to newer heights through a growth mindset?
Self-discipline is a catalyst to grow in life. It starts with learning to say no.
When you decide to say no no matter how much time, energy and resources has already been wasted you become free.
But the Good news is that it’s never too late to say no to habits that don’t serve you.
10: Nurture your Soul
We are not just made of body but our minds, spirit and souls.
When we get the most undisciplined we find how far we get from nurturing our souls.
When you draw closer to God – it’s easier to learn and build self-discipline as a habit.
Benefits of Self-discipline
Self discipline helps you;
- Achieve your long and short-term goals.
- Improve your relationship with yourself as it’s the ultimate self-love.
- Take control of your life.
- Overcome addiction and procrastination.
- Have an optimistic approach to life.
- Lead a healthy life.
- Build healthy relationships.
- Lead a happy and satisfying life.
- Become better and better every day.
Self Discipline is the ultimate form of self care.
— Keanu Caroline (@KeanuCaroline) May 22, 2021
- Self-discipline is an everyday thing. No one has it fully figured out. You keep practicing; raising the bar and you get better at it. It remains a struggle for almost everyone.
- If you can’t do it all by yourself. Find someone that won’t take your BS & get them to be your accountability partner.
- Take out cues that add no positive value to your life by being in control of your environment.
- Identify the source of your emotions. For example, Why are you taking an insult from a stranger online personally?
What steps are you taking today to learn self-discipline? Books and podcasts don’t build self discipline. It’s a simple matter of giving yourself a directive, then following it. What area of your life needs attention?
Self-discipline is a skill that requires consistency and practice to acquire. It is also a race for the slow and steady. Discipline is the ability to give yourself a command & follow it. It’s a two step process.
It’s important that you have a good, strong purpose for giving yourself that command and of course following it. Use it for small things first, and then you can build upon that.
Start small. Learn to be disciplined in the little things and slowly evolve to the big things.
Before you know it, like a magic wand, you are turning your dreams into reality.