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7 Strategies That Will Help You Build Self Discipline Once and for All

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self discipline
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Entrepreneur, it’s French in origin and sounds evocative. And like the term ‘startup’ it once sounded attractive, even exciting. You’re trying to push this new business forward. But there’s a maddening frustration that you can’t get things done. It seems your “to do list” just keeps growing.

You’re supposed to be your own boss now, but mastering yourself is a lot harder than you thought. This unfulfilled feeling won’t go away. You’ve got to try something different. The good news is you can learn how to build self discipline right now with 7 strategies. Self-Discipline is defined as, “the ability to control one’s feelings and overcome one’s weaknesses”. It’s your weapon to get things done when inspiration falters. Let’s jump into those 7 strategies.

1. Slay Temptations with Jedi Willpower

Now is your chance to join “the resistance”. Except it’s not Star Wars. The battle is against instant gratification. It’s a war for your attention. To resist impulses. To resist the urge for social media, snacking, checking email, caffeine, online shopping, YouTube and on and on. Recognise and weed out these enemies. Because long term goals are linked to delayed reward.

Vow to stop consuming and start creating. Self-discipline is the vehicle between your worthy goal and your prize. Block out your morning to get that hard work done. Let everyone know you can’t be disturbed. See your whims and desires for what they are. Switch your smartphone off and put it out of sight. Resist those urges to surf the web. You have to be ruthless! Persevere and you will start feeling powerful again.

2. Banish Excuses One Step at a Time

Self-discipline is about growing new habits. Like building muscle, it takes effort. Instead of taking big leaps, focus on small changes. If you’re a night owl, it’s pointless trying to wake up two hours earlier from day one. Set the alarm a half hour earlier. By also changing your evening routine you’ll gradually start improving. Change takes time. Regular progress in one area is better than trying to change everything in one day. Intentional small steps lead to that better habit and excuses start to disappear.

“99% of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.” – George Washington Carver

3. Breakdown Smart Goals with Planning

Goals are wonderful dreamlike ambitions, but without a plan, they’ll remain in fairyland. Long term goals need to be brought into better focus. In ”the 12 Week Year” Brian Moran refers to this danger as ”we mistakenly believe that there is a lot of time left in the year, and we lack a sense of urgency”.

Say you want to reignite your reading habits of old. You’re aiming for 12 books this year. To read a 250-page book in 31 days is 8 pages daily. That’s only 30 minutes to an hour of reading. It seems a whole lot more achievable when broken down. Keep on track with SMART goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.

Planning is a map that helps you stay more disciplined. As James Clear put it, ”You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”

4. Organize an Environment to Win

Everyone struggles with keeping on top of things. I’ve seen university professors with offices that could be mistaken for a paper shredding room. So don’t sweat it. Make no mistake, being organized is a part of self-discipline. It has a calming effect by keeping you on track to win.

Being tidy and organised will help you with a mindset for getting things done. Give everything a home. Declutter and get rid of useless junk. At the end of the day, clear your desk and reset for tomorrow. Your workspace, your house, your car; it’s all a reflection of you.

5. Adopt a Positive Attitude for Success

When you’re always chasing something, it’s easy to forget what you have. Feeling gratitude for the untold opportunities at your fingertips helps you stay grounded. Negativity can drag you down and stifle everything else. Don’t waste a millisecond on things you can’t influence or change.

You can choose how you react to temporary failure or life’s dramas. That’s the difference between those disciplined to get up and push on and everyone else. They have more control over their thoughts and attitudes. They have a purpose and a powerful reason. And more often than not, they rise on the side of positivity.

6. Persistence to Victory

Committing your goals to paper and working on them demonstrates faith. So whether its micro changes or bigger leaps, keep momentum on your side with your daily effort. In fact, Earl Nightingale defined success as, ”the progressive realization of a worthy goal”. Sharing your tasks with a partner or accountability group will help you stay persistent. Sacrifice clears the road for persistence. Persistence is having the will to persevere in spite of setbacks, emotions or temporary failures.

“We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.” – Jim Rohn

7. Profit from Balance in Life

Maybe your further down this path. Business is on the up and you already have a lot of these qualities. But there’s a hidden danger lurking. Overly focusing on work and the expense of all.

You’ve let exercise slip or maybe you’re eating too much fast food. Even family time and duties are suffering. Imbalance in life can destroy achievements. It takes self-control to balance everything. It’s one of the hardest things to achieve because of all the demands.

Don’t let imbalance wreck what matters the most. Recharge, get out of the artificial world and into nature to revitalise your wellbeing and make a strict routine for sleep, exercise and family time. Having the discipline to balance life will enrich your work.

Remember that feeling when you let temptations dictate? That unfulfilled sinking feeling? It zaps your energy and spirits to move forward. The scary thing is, when left unchecked you stop believing and lose momentum.

Banish those excuses by focusing self-discipline on one area at a time. From the list above start to implement one strategy today. You could see your output soar. Best of all, you’re feeling better and conquering the day.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Kari

    Apr 4, 2019 at 4:53 am

    For me, it’s really the vision that keeps me disciplined. I took a course and created this insane vision of who I wanted to be and why, and that vision has forced me to do what I need to do each day. I think the pain of not accomplishing it, and all the rewards that I know will come with it is what keeps me going. I don’t want to live in the ‘what if’ stage.

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3 Simple Hacks That Can Recharge Your Willpower and Help You Perform Better at Work

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How many times did you wake up feeling like you could conquer the world? You set ambitious goals for the day, you put on your best attire and walked out the door with a big smile on your face but eventually, life took over. Traffic, emails, work, family, and everything else you have around slowly but steadily started to drain your energy and made you feel exhausted.

You run out of battery, and the only solution that seemed viable was to rely on more caffeine. When that stopped working, all the temptations around you started to look much more appealing, and that sense of drive and commitment you had before slowly faded away. This is you running out of willpower.

Willpower: what is it? Why is it limited?

The American Psychology Association describes willpower as “the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.” In the book “The Willpower Instinct”, Dr. Kelly McGonigal, explains how every person’s willpower is limited, and slowly depletes throughout the day. The more “willpower challenges” you face, the quicker your reserve drains. Dr. McGonigal divided the different types of willpower challenges you might encounter in three categories:

  • I will: We face this type of challenge whenever we should do something, but we simply don’t feel like getting it done right now.
  • I won’t: We face this challenge when we try to resist temptation, or we try to keep cool in stressful situations.
  • I want: This is a particular type of challenge where we keep track of our long term goals, dreams, and desires. In this instance, we feel like we should take action right now to come one step closer to the goal. 

It’s easy to recognize it when you face a willpower challenge because you literally “feel it in your body.” Imagine being really hungry and walking in front of a bakery. The sight and the smell of pastries quickly triggers an “I won’t” type of challenge, and it takes a severe amount of effort and energy to walk away.

Every time you manage to win one of those challenges, a little bit of your willpower reserve gets used. The more challenges you face daily, the harder it will be to stay true to your goals.

Can you train or recharge your willpower?

A growing body of research suggests that willpower should be considered a muscle. To strengthen it, you should exercise it regularly, but you should not overwork it. Therefore, we shouldn’t try to “be good” at all times. Instead, we should learn how to relax and recharge our willpower.

The general advice on how to improve willpower involves sleep, proper nutrition, and regular exercise. This broad and general recommendation is often not downright applicable by most, because it consists of changing various daily habits. Luckily, three very effective hacks have been discovered, that have an immediate effect on our willpower and take just a few minutes to apply.

Here are the 3 ways to refill your willpower reserves:

1. Focused breathing

Breathing, when done correctly, can stimulate the release of calming hormones while reducing the release of stress hormones like cortisol and catecholamines. To make this effective, you should deeply and slowly inhale through the nose for at least five seconds. Fill your belly with air first, then your chest, and when there’s no more space for air, still try to do tiny inhalations through the nose.

You should feel a pulling sensation around your neck and trapezius muscles. Once your lungs are full, try to hold the breath for five seconds, then slowly exhale through the mouth for at least five seconds. If you repeat this process ten to twenty times, you should feel dramatically more relaxed. Use this method several times a day, especially when you’re experiencing high levels of stress or anxiety.

2. Reward yourself when you accomplish a micro goal

According to a recent study, frequent instant rewards can boost motivation, and therefore, willpower. Creating your own reward system can help you to accomplish your to-do list, and also resist temptations. Since every individual has different tastes, you should come up with creative ideas about the small and frequent rewards you will give yourself upon winning any willpower challenge.

You can see this hack in practice in Apps like the popular Duolinguo, where after completing each lesson you get presented with a chance to open a treasure chest. This rewarding system seems to keep the users much more likely to keep learning new lessons.

3. Taking cold showers

Your body has an autonomic response to cold water. Getting into a cold shower is a difficult (but minor) willpower challenge on its own. As I previously mentioned, winning a willpower challenge strengthens your willpower muscle. Having a morning cold shower, on top of having multiple health benefits, will set you up for a positive winning streak of further challenges.

High performance is the sum of many small habits. Successful people don’t have an unlimited reserve of willpower, but they do have a set of daily rituals that made them succeed. These three hacks are some of the most effective techniques to develop willpower, but some of them may not fit every individual. You should try to find the perfect mix of daily practices that best fits your lifestyle and likes, so that you can strengthen your willpower muscle and perform better at work.

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