Nowadays, mastering the art of self-discipline is presented as an outdated strategy. In other words, there is a lot of new information that insists that self-discipline is overrated and no longer relevant. While some of these arguments make a lot of sense, the truth is the people who are writing the books and researching the data are self-disciplined. Ironically, it takes a bit of self-discipline to accomplish almost anything, especially writing books about it.
But you see my point. The truth is a little bit of good ole fashioned self-discipline is still a good idea to incorporate into your award-winning life.
In this article, you’ll learn how to finally get off of the soul-sucking rollercoaster of ups and downs and finally plant your feet on the solid ground of steady progress (even if it’s slow, it’s still progress).
These 7 strategies will help you develop the self-discipline muscle that you long for.
7 Ways To Master Self-Discipline
1- Start With Why
You may think self-discipline starts with to-do lists, apps, calendars, and planners. These are tools that will boost your productivity, but you need more. The first thing you need to master self-discipline is to know why you’ve chosen your particular goals. Superficial reasons often aren’t usually strong enough to inspire you to stick with the project. You need to identify the deep, emotional causes that resonate with you in meaningful ways.
For example, losing weight just for the sake of looking slimmer might not be a strong enough reason to keep you on your healthy eating plan and in the gym every day. However, when you think about the more significant benefits of losing weight, the purpose suddenly becomes stronger. Is the goal of weight loss to have more self-confidence? To have more energy to spend with your children? Do you want to live healthy longer and eliminate or avoid chronic illness? All of these stronger reasons why can keep you on track and help you build the self-discipline that is required to meet your goal.
2- Delay Gratification
Second, one of the more significant concepts behind self-discipline is that you increase your ability to delay gratification. When weighing opposing options, you sacrifice short-term benefits for long-term gains.
One of the best ways to build self-discipline is to delay gratification, but make sure you plan something enjoyable in the short term too.
Staying with the same example, let’s say that you’re trying to get healthier by losing weight. You may eat healthy most days but allow yourself a break on the weekend. Or you might allow yourself some of the foods you enjoy, but prepare at home with healthier ingredients. If you eat healthy 80 to 90 percent of the time, you will begin to build a self-discipline muscle in this area and before you know it you will look and feel much better.
The key is to make choices that lead to long-term benefits without completely sacrificing your quality of life in the short term. That way, you make sustainable changes that you can stick to. All of a sudden you will begin to see your life improve.
3- Reduce Your Options
The third method of mastering self-discipline is simplifying your life by reducing your options. By reducing decision fatigue you will find more energy to put toward achieving your goals. Many successful people in the media are known for limiting their wardrobes – they wear the same types of clothing every day, thereby eliminating confusion about what to wear.
You can do the same thing with your diet by stocking your fridge and cabinets with only healthy foods. Remove the temptation to go off plan.
Likewise, you can simply your exercise routines, by keeping a schedule whereby you exercise around the same time daily. That way you never have to decide if you are going for a walk or run or go to the gym. You just do it because that’s what you do. Before long, you will have mastered the discipline that exercise and healthy eating require.
4- Visualize The Process
Another method that works for building self-discipline is visualizing the steps you’ll take to achieve your goals.
If you tend to struggle with waking up early to go to the gym, for example, before you fall asleep at night, envision how you’ll approach the morning.
Picture yourself waking up as soon as your alarm goes off, getting dressed, and heading straight to the gym. Imagine the exact workout you’ll do from start to finish and visualize yourself feeling accomplished, knowing you’ve made the best decision and gotten a great start to your day. I know this may sound cheesy, but it works. Before I started walking 4 to 5 miles daily, I visualized getting out of bed early and walking down the street.
5- Make Sure Your Baseline Needs are Covered
It’s much easier to build new habits and exert self-control when you are well-fed, well-rested, hydrated, relaxed, and comfortable in your physical surroundings. Therefore, make sure you meet your basic needs of healthy food, shelter, drinking enough clean water, and getting enough rest before you tackle big goals. It’s a rare person who can kill it and crush it when their house is in foreclosure and their marriage is on the rocks. It can be done, but the one who does it is more of an exception than the rule. The media paints these people as heroes and they are. But remember, most of us need food, clothing, and shelter before we kill it and crush it and that is completely fine.
6- Change Your Language
Oh wow, this is a big one. The way you speak about your goals and priorities can make a huge difference in your approach.
If you’re starting a new business, for example, not every aspect will be exciting and motivating. Duh. Some tasks will feel tedious, dull, and even downright frustrating. Exercising self-discipline and self-control means pushing through the unpleasant parts to reach your end goal. A trick you can use here is to change the way you discuss these aspects, even with yourself.
For example, if you’re dreading a presentation or project at work or school, you have two choices. You can complain about how awful the job is and procrastinate. Or, you can describe how lucky you are to be in your position. Hey, I’m taking my own advice here. I have had to practice this time and time again. Not every aspect of life and work is rainbows and unicorns (although I wish it were so).
If it’s school, you can think about how fortunate you are to have the opportunity to advance your education. If it’s work, you can think of how you get to showcase your knowledge or skills and how great it is that you have a steady paycheck that allows you to pay your bills and enjoy financial security in your life. Again, this takes self-discipline and as you practice this you become more disciplined. It’s a win-win situation if you can see it as such.
7- Shift Your Identity
Your self-discipline will dramatically improve if you think of the end goal and align your identity with the person who has achieved that goal.
For example, if you want to improve your physical fitness, consider the actions of the physically fit. Reframe your identity and describe yourself as the type of person who cooks healthy food and enjoys physical activity.
If you want to have a successful business, examine the traits of successful businesspeople. Adopt some of those traits as you describe your identity. Perhaps you’ve read that the most successful people are early risers. You, too, can shift your self-perception by becoming an early riser. Identify as the type of person who wakes early to work on their business every day.
Self-discipline is a combination of identifying your goals and shifting your mindset to prioritize the choices that inch you further toward attaining them, despite your feelings. However, self-control isn’t something you can master overnight. Just like any muscle in your body, self-discipline takes time to build. With practice and effort, you can improve, grow, and become the best version of yourself possible. Most of all realize that the journey can be quite fun!
Be well + prosper,