“In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves… self-discipline with all of them came first.” ~ Harry S. Truman
How many times have you said to yourself: “I really need to have more self-discipline here!” And, despite of your best intentions, how many times have you still been disappointed by your own lack of it? As it wouldn’t be hard enough to develop self-discipline, no… we usually also beat ourselves up for not having it. I know I have been there many times. But we don’t have to be a slave to our lack of self-discipline.
Why Self-Discipline Rocks
The popular belief is that self-discipline takes from you. It takes from your quality of life, makes you unrelaxed and in general gives you a hard time. It cuts from your freedom. But this is all wrong.
The opposite is true. Self-discipline will give you freedom. It will give you more abilities and resources because you know that when you say something to yourself, you will follow through. That has tremendous power.
What is Self-Discipline Anyway?
Self-Discipline is the ability to do something even if you don’t feel like doing it. It is making you do and follow through with the difficult things. It’s really one of the highest personal qualities to have and a way of self-mastery.
Most of the time it needs you to have a more long-term perspective in order to avoid what is fun and easy and do the difficult things that will lead to quality of life and long-term happiness.
What’s the problem here?
Now the main problem comes when we continuously fail to do what we have to do and give in to the easy way out - only to be greatly disappointed by our behavior the day after. Or even worse, ignore our lack of self-discipline and rationalize it just to feel good in the moment. Don’t confuse giving in to the fun and easy with being in the present moment, that is clearly not what living in the now means.
Intelligent Solutions for Developing Self-Discipline
1. Develop a Purposeful Direction
This is the #1 hack for self-discipline. To be honest this is my main way of dealing with a lack of self-discipline. Because knowing your goals clearly and having a purposeful direction in your life makes showing self-discipline much easier! It is aligning what you want with what you need. Self-discipline is to some extend a substitute for having motivation. So you could say this “hack” is the most intelligent and proactive way to deal with the issue of self-discpline. In fact, you couldn’t even talk about it as self-discipline anymore. Now you are naturally driven to do what it takes. What looks to others as iron self-discipline feels to you as just naturally doing the obvious. And you have fun doing it. Start with igniting your desire and setting goals from it.
Of course you could argue while it is a very intelligent behavior, it is not necessarily building up the ability to have self-discipline. And that’s right. It’s avoiding the need for self-discipline proactively. So let’s see how we really can build the quality of self-discipline itself:
2. Take Courage to Face the Difficult Things
“The trick … is not minding that it hurts.” ~ Lawrence of Arabia
This is kind of the ultimate tip in order to really build up your self-discipline. It is a practice of continuously doing the right thing, and resisting the urge of getting an immediate gratification. This builds character and you will feel extremely good about yourself after you went through all the difficulties and stretched yourself in order to get there.
Sometimes you just have to force yourself to start and do things. Focus single-mindedly on your challenge in order to have all your resources available. When you feel the urge to give up, remind yourself of the reward you will get. Think long-term. Maybe even be inspired by the Shaolin Monks. This is how you build success and self-discipline.
3. Train Your Mind
Self-Discipline is a quality of an evolved character. It will naturally develop if you enjoy personal growth and make developing your mind a habit. Self-Discipline and Willpower will be the result. The key is to really enjoy personal development because you know that you do one of the best investments you could do: investing in yourself. Feeding your mind by reading great books and developing your ability to focus can be so much fun and the rewards are almost immediate. Building up more personal energy and generally training your body has similar positive effects.
4. Develop Your Awareness
Self-discipline has a lot in common with controlling your thoughts. In order to gain control of your thoughts, you have to be aware of them as being thoughts, nothing more. It’s not reality and you are not your mind, it’s merely a representation of reality. Being aware of your thoughts gives you the ability to make a choice. A choice whether you want to follow your thought or want to go a different way. Then you are able to resist the short-term pleasures and go for what is important to you instead. Awareness also builds inner space and inner peace.
5. Form a Helpful Environment and Peer Group
The environment has a strong influence on us and the way we live. Especially the people around us, your peer group, will influence your decisions greatly. We need to actively select a supportive environment and people who make our life better not worse. One very good idea is to become part of a master-mind group (introduced by Napolean Hill in Think and Grow Rich), people like you who have the same goals and dreams as you, who support you and whom you support back.
Those are my 5 top ways of dealing with self-discipline. If you have anything to add and questions, do so in the comment section below!