What is self discipline? Essentially, self-discipline is the assertion of willpower over basic desires. Being a disciplined person means doing things right when you are supposed to do them. It means to keep the promises you make and to be committed to being true to yourself. In other words, it is a synonym of self-control. In this article, we will talk about how you can build unbreakable self-discipline with 5 practical rules that you can immediately apply to your life. And these aren’t just some quotes or snowflake tips, that won’t actually impact your life in any way, these are tips that will actually change your life if you apply them correctly.
So, why is self-discipline important?
No matter what your goals are, you most certainly have to work in order to achieve them, and if you don’t have any discipline, you most probably won’t put in any work and you’ll just procrastinate. Being able to delay gratification and short-term temptations is crucial if you want to be a successful person. Now, there’s a big difference between being disciplined and being self-disciplined, and it’s all about willpower.
For example, why do you think that having a personal trainer is much more effective for losing weight instead of working out by yourself? Well, yeah, they might help you with some techniques you were doing wrong and teach you new ones, but the most important aspect is motivation and accountability. There’s a huge difference between working out by yourself and working out with a trainer.
Trainers tell you what to do, what you’re doing wrong, how to do it correctly, and give you motivation. Between a person who is self-trained and a person that has a trainer, who is more self-disciplined? Obviously, the one who does everything by himself right?
This is because nobody is telling him what to do and when to do it. The only person that is holding him accountable is himself, while the other person has a trainer that follows him every step of the way. Being self-disciplined means that you will show up, do the work, and do it as you promised you would.
It also means to have good habits, and it’s important for behavior change interventions because habitual behaviors are elicited automatically and are therefore likely to be maintained. You might recognize that you are not self-disciplined. Fortunately for you, this is a skill. It means that you can learn and master it even if you’re starting from zero.
5 Strategies to Develop Self Discipline That Lasts
Let’s get into it right now with the 5 rules to building self-discipline.
1. Remove Temptations.
The first logical step is to remove everything that is keeping you from doing what you are supposed to do. You see, our brain is built to avoid all kinds of struggle, pain, or effort. So, between working and watching Netflix, we tend to choose Netflix overworking because it’s easier and it’s an instant pleasure. It all becomes a lot easier if you have nothing else to do than work! In this case, you could cancel your subscription to Netflix. This can be applied to a variety of things: are you tempted to go check your Instagram feed?
Uninstall Instagram altogether. Now, this might sound a little drastic, and I get that. So here’s another thing that you could do, without uninstalling all your social media apps and throwing away your TV. Make procrastinating inconvenient. If you work from home and you work from a desk that is 3 feet away from your coach, it’s very easy for you to get distracted, take a “short break” and spend the rest of the day consuming useless snacks while watching useless stuff. Sounds familiar?
If however, you are working from your local public library, it’s a lot harder for you to procrastinate since you are in a quiet place with little to no distraction, and you don’t have your fridge on the left nor your couch on the right to distract you. This way, if you really want to take one of those “short breaks” on the couch, you’d have to travel all the way back home to get to it, and that’s inconvenient.
2. Don’t Wait for The “Right Mood”
Be honest here: did you ever postpone work because you “didn’t feel like it?”. We all have. And I’m gonna tell you a little secret here: you will probably never feel like it. And even if you do, you’ll get started with the work, and then you’ll stop after 10 minutes because you won’t be in the “right mood” anymore. As I said before, our brain is NOT built for productivity, quite the contrary. It was built for instant gratification. So you shouldn’t wait for the right moment, you should do it anyway!
Here’s a suggestion that will help you: the 3 seconds rule. It’s very simple. Whenever you are not doing what you are supposed to, count to 3, and then do it. Don’t think about it, don’t worry, just do it.
Do you have to get up and study?
Do you have to get out of bed?
So don’t say it slowly, just execute instantly. Are you learning something new? Are you ready to improve your life by implementing discipline? Tell us what you think in the comments down below, your opinion is really important.
3. Properly Set Achievable Goals.
Goal setting is also a skill that will help you get things done faster. You have to be really ambitious when setting goals. One thing that a famous entrepreneur always says is “if you know exactly the steps to reach your goal, the goal’s too small”. Studies for goal setting and task performance state that specific and challenging goals lead to higher performance than easy goals, “do your best” goals, or no goals.
Goal setting is most likely to improve task performance when the goals are specific and sufficiently challenging. So, even if you won’t actually achieve it, you’ll always be more productive.
A good goal is an achievable goal that isn’t too small, otherwise, it will feel like you’re wasting your potential. It should also have a deadline. A good deadline will help you be more efficient and effective, especially if you make yourself accountable. A few years ago, a friend of mine was working on a music video. This was a very complex project for him and took him a very long time to put everything together.
He was both the director and editor of the video. He had been working on it for a few weeks and then he realized that he was going absolutely nowhere, and so he decided to challenge himself. That day, he announced to all his fans that the video will be ready and released in just a few weeks.
That meant a lot of work in a very short period of time. A few weeks later, after a few late nights, he successfully finished and published the finished music video in time. So the takeaway is; when people hold you accountable, you are more likely to get that thing done.
4. Think Long Term.
Abraham Lincoln once said: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” The difference between successful and unsuccessful people is that successful people take action. If they don’t like something, they don’t complain about it, they work to change it.
So, I need you to ask yourself the following questions:
What are you doing to improve your life right now? Based on your current daily actions, what does your future look like 3, 5, and 10 years from now?
As soon as you print this in your mind, you understand that everything you do today will have a massive influence on the person you’ll become tomorrow, and this is the best way to motivate yourself to do what you’re supposed to do, even if you quote on quote “don’t feel like it”.
5. Progressively Build a Productive Routine.
Start small, you won’t change overnight. A few years ago when I got serious about my health and started exercising, which meant going to the gym, and jogging, I initially hated it. It was hard, tiring, and sometimes painful. After the first 3 days, I seriously wanted to quit, but something in me told me to keep going so I persevered.
The first month was hard, and very taxing on my body, but after that something weird happened. I wasn’t expecting it, but I actually started enjoying exercising and going to the gym. I looked forward to it, and I also started to notice that my days were becoming more productive, and I was getting a lot more done. I had more energy and I was also starting to look, much much better. So big results take time to achieve, but with small consistent actions, you can achieve them.
A great way to get you started is you should wake up at the same time every single day, and have a precise plan on what the day looks like. As soon as you wake up, make your bed. This is a great small victory and a great way to get the ball moving. Making your bed in the morning has been proven to increase motivation and productivity throughout the day.
To get started on how you are going to improve your routine, start identifying areas you’d like to see changes. If you want, you can make a list and group every single daily activity into positive, neutral, and negative activities.
- Positive activities are those that take you closer to your goal (like sending important emails, doing research, working, exercising, and so on).
- Negative activities are those that take you further from your goal (like spending time with negative people, maintaining unhealthy behavior, etc)
- Neutral activities are things that waste your time and don’t really have any impact on your goals (like being stuck in traffic or mindlessly watching television).
As soon as you have your list, you can go ahead and decide how you are going to change your routine. At this point, you are supposed to eliminate all negative and neutral actions. If that’s not possible, you might consider asking yourself: “How can I turn negative and neutral actions into positive actions?” For example, if you’re stuck in traffic, instead of just whining and complaining, you could listen to a podcast or an audiobook.
The 21/90 rule. This well-known rule states that it takes about 21 days to form a habit, 66 days to ingrain a habit, and 90 days to form a lifestyle. This means that if you commit to doing something daily for 21 days straight, it will most likely start to become a habit, however, if you keep at it for 66 days it will absolutely become a habit. And If you keep doing the same thing for 90 days, it will become a lifestyle and part of your routine.
That thing might be anything that changes your routine and improves your life. For example, you might want to meditate as soon as you wake up, have a cold shower every morning or work out for 30 minutes every day. But does this rule actually work?
A study published in 2009 and conducted by Phillippa Lally shows that things aren’t that simple. In this research, 96 volunteers tried forming a new habit, and it took them anything from 18 to 254 days.
These results are pretty confusing. So how long does it take? It all depends on you. Ideally, it won’t take you longer than 30 days, but many factors come into play. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t apply the 21/90 rule. It only means that you shouldn’t take it as absolute truth and just keep on doing the thing every single day. Remember to exercise willpower by doing things that you don’t want to do, every single day. Success is a process, not an event, and only hard work and discipline will take you there.