Why you have no choice but to be self-discipline

Have you ever faced a situation where you set a goal and resolution for the new year but when it came to action, you gave up? Have you ever felt that you are not determined enough in sticking to your action plan?

If you concern about the situations alike, you are lacking self-discipline. This is a short summary of the book “Self Discipline Mindset: Why Self Discipline Is Lacking In Most And How To Unleash It Now” by Curtis Leone. I found this book’s material useful in achieving self-discipline. Hope you will be on my side after reading this note.

Let’s start first by seeing what self-discipline is.

Tell me about self-discipline

Self-discipline is about self-control. Nurturing yourself in controlling emotions, desires, actions, thoughts and feelings that derail you from your goals. Setting a goal is just the beginning. The rest lies in execution. It is commonly believed that, as Sir Francis Bacon says, “knowledge is power”. However, the truth is that the knowledge is potential power. The execution is the power. When you set a plan to achieve your goals, you take the very first step toward the desired result. You need to take actions in order to actualize the result. Unfortunately, many people lose focus and passion in taking this long journey. In order to scrutinize this situation, we should look at the willpower which is confused with self-discipline in many literatures. Willpower acts like a catapult. It sets you off on a journey to achieve your goal. However, you cannot rely on it when dealing with ups and downs. You need something that keeps you going until the end. This is where the self-discipline kicks in. Self-discipline is like an execution officer that keeps you focused on executing your plan. By nurturing self-discipline, you are capable of bossing your emotions and feeling in order to being perseverance and endurance.

How to Build Self-Discipline by Martin Meadows

As you can see, the will-power and self-discipline complements each other.

How does self-discipline work?

Self-discipline helps you to stick to whatever you need to execute your plan. Without being discipline, the likelihood that you sidetrack from your utmost desire is very high. Self-discipline keeps you fighting back many negative and unnecessary feelings. When you are self-discipline, you think lucidly, brainstorm easily, focus on the necessary tasks needed to be done irrespective of hurdles you face. It keeps you away from behaving erratically by evaluating the consequences of every decision before acting. Furthermore, self-discipline makes you reach a peaceful and happier life. A research [1] conducted by Wilhelm Hoffman at the university of Chicago shows that self-control people are happier than those who lack this ability. They act better in dealing the difficulties and waste less time in execution.

So why are you lacking self-discipline?

The big question is that even though we know, for example, going for walking is more beneficial than sitting in front of TV, we choose the later. Even though we know smoking hurts my health, we do not stop smoking! The answer behind all these situations is that you do not have self-discipline. Let’s deep diver on the reasons that prevents us from being self-discipline.

  1. Negative mental and emotional programming

Many of us experience various terrible accidents through our lives which induce negative thinking and behaviours in us. These negative thinking prevent us from self-discipline.

2. Negative environment

Negative environment has a destructive effect on developing a sustainable self-discipline trait. If you are surrounded by people who demoralise you, you will have very tough time in achieving self-discipline.

3. Feel of fear

Many of us is afraid of failing which keeps us away from any initiatives.

4. Laziness

You are not self-disciplined because you might be lazy. Laziness is one of the main reasons behind procrastination. These two are enemies of self-discipline.

5. Low self-esteem and self-confidence

When you don’t have faith in yourself, you cannot exploit your capabilities fully. This makes it even harder to be self-discipline.

6. Easily falling prey to temptation

Temptations is one of the main barrier in achieving self-discipline. Temptations lure you away easily from your priorities and derail you from your goal.

7. Lack of purpose

Human beings cannot do anything without meaning. Without meaning you cannot fight for your goal. That’s why you should prepare for self-discipline by finding a good meaning which is will be covered next.

Determine why you need to be self-discipline

The first step in developing self-discipline is to find a good convincing answer for being self-discipline. Without that it is very hard to achieve sustainable self-discipline. So, the answer comes naturally after is that, how can I determine the meaning?

  1. Specify your “What”

Visualize what you really want. Without being able to see what you are looking for you cannot persuade yourself for self-discipline. Also, it is important to visualize your “what” for better action plan and measuring progress. Find a quiet place to visualize your goals and simulate how you should achieve your goal. For example, if you want to lose weight, specify how much you want to lose (visualisation) and simulate how you should exercise regularly, eat healthy and track your progress.

2. Specify your “Why”

This is the place where you should find a crystal clear reason why you need to be self-discipline. The reason you set up here will affect your performance later. You need a reason to transform yourself to being self-discipline. Find a quiet place and ponder on the list of positive reasons to be self-discipline. Focus on the negative consequences of doing nothing. When you find a lucid reason for being self-discipline it is much easier to be perseverance in your path. Next, you need to be resilient.

Dump all your excuses, I mean ALL

Let’s be honest. There is no way you ALWAYS feel it is the right time to do your job. Get rid of all unhealthy practices that says: wait for right time and mood to start doing your job. You need to stop falling prey to this thought and be truly resilient at achieving self-discipline. The reason is that when you think the right time should come to start your job, you base your actions on emotions which are unpredictable and so volatile. In fact, self-discipline is about developing a regulation in yourself to stick to your plan when you no longer feel enthusiastic about it. Some techniques regarding this can be as follows:

  1. Use your decision making skill

Charles Duhigg, the creator of “the power of habit”, clearly explains that the basal ganglia, which is responsible for the pattern, emotions and memory, controls your habits.

Basal ganglia

When a habit engrained in your trait, you do not use your decision-making skills when dealing with a situation. You actually use your brain in auto-pilot mode. Using your decision-making skills can bypass this mode. Your brain will not allow you easily to make this happen, that is why it would be tough to develop new healthy habit while developing self-discipline. You should not succumb to this brain trick. One of the techniques that can help you will be chanting a mantra. Mantra refers to positive thought and proposition that is said repeatedly. This is one technique in overcoming the negative thoughts that keeps bugging you when developing new habits. You can print a mantra and place it on your bathroom door, fridge door, and phone to remember it easily.

2. Dump your habit of making excuse

You should discard the habit of making excuse to not start or give up in a path you have taken. I know there is no comfort in doing tough jobs, but this does not mean you should make an excuse to run away. Be honest with yourself every time you make an excuse to escape from executing your task. When you are honest, the reason reveals itself and you know what keeps you from continuing. This can motivate you to continue. For example, if you find out the reason for making excuse is that you are lazy, you will be irritated and decide to continue because no one accepts laziness as an acceptable trait.

Take action with action plan

The next step in self-discipline is to prepare an action plan. These are the steps to make it happen.

  1. Make your action plan

Prepare an action plan and specify what steps in what order should be carried out. Be more specific about needs each step is going to satisfy.

2. Prepare yourself to take some action

After making an action plan, you need to take an action. But before that, go over the action and try to absorb the action plan. You should know what each action’s intention is and what it tries to address. Set a time plan for each action. Setting a time is an important practice in action plan as it induces some senses of urgency and instils the necessary commitment in SMART goal plan.

3. Anticipate the potential issues and plan ahead to fix them

You should be prepared for potential problem(s) you might encounter when taking action and devise strategic plan to overcome them in the case.

4. Track your progress

You cannot evaluate the efficacy of your plan if you cannot track your progress. In order to track your progress, you should specify measurable metrics lucidly. Check your progress based on the metrics you have specified already and make changes if necessary. Reframe your mistakes based on your feedback from evaluating your progress.

Practice on overcoming temptation

Temptations is one of the main barriers in reaching self-discipline lifestyle. And you should take it seriously. Transforming yourself into a self-discipline person takes effort and time. It has its own learning curve and does not happen overnight. There are some strategies you can take to combat against temptations.

  1. Detach yourself from attractions

Keep yourself away from anything that attracts and excites you. For example, if you plan to stop smoking, avoid any one even your friends for some time. This keeps you from exposing to the temptations it might have.

2. Envision resisting temptation

Envision the techniques in your mind when facing with temptations. For example, if you are on healthy diet, imagine what you would do if facing a sugary sweet, you can imagine that you can take it and after enjoying its aroma, put it back. Practice it regularly. This will prepare you mentally and control your emotions to overcome the temptation in the case.

3. Weigh immediate gratification against long term consequences

Warren Buffett once said, “the difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything”. Unfortunately, this is true. Mostly the immediate gratification leaves you with feeling of guilty. That’s the reason financial independency is a long-term goal which requires many sacrifices during life. So, in facing temptation, weigh pros and cons of acting based on temptations. Thinks about the worst case, when you cannot overcome the temptations. For example, think what would happen if you would not lose weight.

source: here

4. Distract yourself

Distraction is a weapon that can be also constructive in achieving your goal. It depends on the side you are using against. Try to distract yourself when temptations arise.

With all of these things done, you are very close to being self-discipline but not finished. You should keep motivating yourself. Take care of yourself both physically and mentally. Stabilise your Glucose level of your body and sleep well. Overcome stress and exercise regularly. In the end, try to extend you self-discipline into any aspects of your life even for small things. For instance, try to avoid lift and use stairs to get your office or home. Give up your seat in bus or train to someone older or pregnant. Do your chores right now. And keep remember the restriction you take freely will boost your capability in developing sustainable self-discipline lifestyle.


[1] https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/07/study-people-with-a-lot-of-self-control-are-happier/277349/

Technology enthusiast, Futuristic, Telecommunications, Machine learning and AI savvy, work at Dolby Inc.

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