Self-discipline is one of the most essential skills that you will ever acquire in life. In essence, it is the ability to exercise control over your emotions, behavior, impulses, and desires. However, being self-disciplined doesn’t mean you have to be harsh on yourself or lead a restrictive life. There is a reason why self-discipline is considered to be one of the stepping stones to success: with it, you will be able to forego instant gratification in favor of long-term contentment.
So how do you go about building a self-disciplined life? Start with these five steps.
1- Don’t make excuses
Do you end up making excuses to avoid doing important things just because you don’t feel like doing them? It is very easy to come up with different reasons to postpone the task at hand. However, if you want to achieve self-discipline, the first thing you should do is stop making excuses. Stop giving yourself leeway when you don’t want to attend the gym or clean your home. Accept the fact that these things need to be taken care of, and push yourself to do them. You will get the task done, and then you can enjoy the feeling of accomplishment.
2- Eat healthy meals at regular intervals
Eating at regular intervals is essential, because it keeps your blood sugar at an optimum level. When there is a drop in blood glucose level, people start feeling confused, tired and irritable – this is enough to weaken any person’s resolve. It becomes extremely difficult to concentrate on tasks when you are hungry. Keep some nuts, carrot sticks, or other healthy snack items with you at all times. The next time you are hungry, eat up, and let your brain focus only on work. Make healthy eating at least 3-6 times a day a lifelong habit – your body and mind will thank you for it!
3- Give yourself positive reinforcement
Remember, self-discipline is not about abstaining from the good things in life. It is about having practical control over your wants and desires. If you aren’t able to stick to a diet, it could be because you view it as an obstacle that requires you to give up things you enjoy. But instead of viewing your diet as a way of depriving yourself, try to see it as a way to reward your body for taking care of you – after all, making healthy food choices is a way of showing yourself love! Likewise, give yourself rewards or incentives along the way to help you complete your goals. When you have something positive to work toward, you will realize that being disciplined really isn’t difficult, because you now know what’s in it for you.
4- Set active goals
There is a stark difference between active and passive goals. Passive goals are the ones you set in your mind, while active goals are concrete items that you define and put down into words. These active goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based. Setting such goals helps in becoming self-disciplined. In fact, research has found that the best athletes in the world set simple, targeted and clear daily goals, and then focus on knocking them out of the park.
5- Be patient, because incorporating new habits takes time
Whenever you are trying anything for the first time, it is bound to be difficult. You may even fail in the beginning. However, don’t give up – forgive yourself for the setback, learn from it, and move on. Excessively focusing on failure makes you feel like you will never be good enough, that you have no control, or that you should be ashamed of yourself. These thoughts are counterproductive to the development of self-discipline. Remember that it is alright to fail, as long as you pick yourself up and keep moving forward.
Self-discipline is a learned habit and following these five steps will help you incorporate it into your life – one day at a time!
Article contributed by Henry Moore.