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Unbreakable discipline combines many factors, including psychology, physiology, clarity, goal setting, environment, etc.
The sciences behind behavioural and motivational psychology have advanced a lot in the last few decades. It makes it more evident that certain things make people tick and fly through goals with laser-sharp focus, while other strategies seem the right thing to do but hold us back.
If you've started a workout or meal plan and quit before reaping the rewards, been inconsistent with goals, or let life's difficulties get in the way of the focus you're craving, this post will help.
This article will cover the following critical topics that will determine what discipline is, then break down the most effective strategies to get where you'd like to go quickly and efficiently.
WHAT IS SELF-DISCIPLINE?
According to Collins Dictionary, self-discipline is the ability to control yourself and make yourself work hard or behave in a particular way without needing anyone else to tell you what to do.
Self-discipline appears in various forms: perseverance, restraint, endurance, thinking before acting and finishing what you started doing.
It is the ability to carry out one's decisions and plans, despite inconvenience, hardships or obstacles.
One of the main characteristics of self-discipline is the ability to forgo instant and immediate gratification and pleasure in favour of some greater gain or more satisfying results, even if this requires effort and time.
MAIN PARTS OF SELF-DISCIPLINe
Let's break down the individual parts of self-discipline. We'll give you a quick tip to help with each one but head to the bottom of this article for our self-discipline tools and strategies.
Perseverance - This is the decision to keep working toward a goal, even when success seems unlikely. Achieving difficult things takes time, and without this critical factor, you'll never get where you'd like to go.
Perseverance is continuing when challenges arise, saying to yourself that whatever this thing is, it won't beat me.
Quick Tip - Ensure your goals are realistic. Without this, you may be doing well but feeling like you're failing. Also, try breaking the goal down into smaller pieces as progress, and even minute progress is highly encouraging and motivating.
Restraint - Especially in today's world, temptation is everywhere! Even going to a petrol station will introduce you to snacks so good that the richest Emperors of the Roman Empire would have never come close to experiencing them.
You need to say no more often! Whether snacks, alcohol or eating out too frequently, you know what it is. These things are holding you back, and the results taste better every time.
Quick tip - Make it harder to access. If going to the supermarket often is your trigger to pick up chocolate, do one big weekly shop and stay away. You can also get groceries delivered or pick them up from the front counter to avoid going through the aisles. Also, only keep healthy food at home. If you crave a snack, you're less likely to get one if you need to go to the shops.
Consistency - Keeping at the grind each week is where progress happens. Consistency involves not being flaky in your training or food routine or going off the rails one week and having a Buddhist monk's discipline the next.
Don't go too hard, don't go too easy. Find your sweet spot where your plan is achievable and when it's time to have a little fun, stay ON the rails, and you'll be fine.
Quick Tip - The chain method. Example: Your goal is to drink enough water or exercise a little each day. The chain method is when you record each consecutive day you have achieved this. Once you're 5 days in or several weeks in, you mentally don't want to break that chain and are more likely to continue being consistent.
Adaptability - Sometimes, it only takes the slightest change for plans to go out the window. Work plans change, didn't have time to cook, a partner is away, can't make it to the gym, etc.
There's always a way to adjust and adapt to a situation.
Quick tip - A great way to be ready for multiple situations is to cook in bulk so your meals are ready to go. Don't rely on meal-to-meal cooking as there's a much higher chance something will come up.
If work can run late, get up a little earlier and train in the morning. That may sound horrible, but the feeling of training being out of the way is incredible and fires you up for the rest of the day.
Acceptance - Some things work with us, and some work against us. Acceptance is the ability not to let a slightly less than favourable situation get the better of us.
We ask what factors can I control and what can't be. We then focus on what's within our power and stick to that.
Acceptance is not making excuses, finding the path even if it has a few thorny bushes along the way and avoiding the victim card. That's a card that doesn't serve anyone well. You got this!
Quick tip - Make a list of all the issues, setbacks and problems you're currently experiencing. Then, put all of these into two groups, things within your control and things you can't control.
Now you have things to work on that are within your control. The rest you can let go and accept as they are unavoidable, and worrying about them won't change the situation anyway.
Attitude - A good attitude goes a very long way. If you're fighting yourself every step, repeating how hard it all is or bombarding yourself with negativity, things will be much more challenging.
Find activities you enjoy doing, find healthy foods you like, get good sleep, learn how to organise time better, remove as much of the negativity as you can from your life, get into regular sauna use or make time to get out in nature. A bad attitude is a choice that can be changed at any moment.
Quick tip - Replace have to with get to. You get to go to work, you get to exercise etc. Many don't have jobs to go to and some can't get out of bed to exercise. Gratitude goes a long way and as soon as you replace I have to do something with I get to do something you'll be in a much better mental space.
SELF-DISCIPLINE SETBACKS. WHAT'S HOLDING YOU BACK?
Thinking it just comes naturally - No one is born with self-discipline; it's something that you need to develop over time. The best way to do this is to be aware of what it consists of, what causes a lack of it and then change your environment accordingly.
Negativity - A negative or toxic environment is bad for business. The removal of negativity is a top priority and may not be as complicated or impossible as you think.
Of course, some of us are in situations that make it difficult to remove all the negative aspects of our lives. But there's no doubt that you can improve the situation with either a bit of effort, the right conversation or a particular course of action.
The best way to do this will be to write down the negative aspects in your life currently and categorise them into what you either have zero control over or some control over. Now you can focus on what you control, which will be liberating and essential to better self-discipline.
Changing your negative environment is crucial to success in whatever you're looking at achieving. Suppose there's junk food in the house, parties, constant going out, bad influences or upsetting circumstances that hold you back. You need to remove yourself from that environment as much as possible. It will be uncomfortable and challenging but will also be an absolute game-changer!
Negative self-talk is a critical and potentially most damaging aspect of negativity that you can control right now. Be aware that you are human and, therefore, not perfect. That's fine, and mistakes are an acceptable part of growth and self-development. You berating yourself with insults of how supposedly useless or stupid you are is counterproductive and not true. Turn it around, acknowledge that improvement needs to be made and make those changes. Awareness that change is needed is a sign of strength, intelligence & self-awareness.
Laziness - Overcoming laziness can be challenging but manageable once you establish the why. Although laziness can be an article all on its own, since it is a toxic inhibitor of progress, we will go over some steps to overcome your unique reasons for being lazy.
When laziness sets in, the first step is to do a quick self-assessment of why this is taking place. Are you tired, overly stressed, hungry, uninspired, not focused, overwhelmed or afraid? Maybe one of many reasons, the key is to figure out what they are and then address them.
Now that we have pinpointed the issues, we can have a targeted approach to resolving them. If it's a simple solution like being tired or hungry, have zero guilt in taking a nap or prioritising better sleep or taking a moment to get some food in you.
If it's something more significant like fear, get out a pen and paper and write down what you're afraid of. Then establish the worst-case scenario (unless you're in a war zone, the worst case is hardly life-threatening usually), which will help you put your fears in perspective.
If you feel overwhelmed, break down the overall objective into smaller goals that will give you small victories. Small wins are powerful psychologically and will show that you're making progress. Also, set realistic timeframes for achieving these smaller goals.
Procrastination - If you want a powerful procrastination killer, look no further than the present moment and your own mortality. We are always thinking about the scary and overwhelming future or the past that we cannot change. Even though these thoughts are enticing and a big part of what makes us human, only the present moment truly matters.
With that in mind, at this moment right now, what is the best way you could spend your time? In this second, you have the opportunity to sit on the couch and regret the decision or take the first step in getting up and moving toward what you should be doing instead.
As for your mortality, although it seems dark, accepting and even appreciating that you have a time limit is a huge motivator to get things done. Were you put on this Earth to stay seated? Or are you here to make the most of your experience?
Today you are here, one day you won't be & it's up to you to determine what happens in between.
benefits of self-discipline
Improved mental health - By having the discipline to avoid the things in our lives that we know are unhealthy or unsustainable. We can achieve a couple of crucial things that drastically improve mental health. We abstain from the things in our lives that drain us (alcohol, smoking, etc.), we have a sense of achievement that highly increases confidence & motivation & we also spend more time on the things that further improve our lives.
Self-confidence - Self-discipline is hard, and anything hard that we accomplish gives us a huge confidence boost. When we are disciplined, we also look and feel better and get stronger; our family & friends recognise these improvements, which builds confidence further. It truly feels fantastic getting on top of everything. One small achievement at a time
Improved physical health/performance - We need to work on it to improve physical health. To work on it takes the self-discipline to get up and get to the gym/class/sport etc. If you struggle with this, start small and build from there. Don't dive into a six-day a week training plan from day 1, and you will either injure yourself or quit within six weeks. If you need help with this, we are always happy to answer any questions.
Health, well-being & longevity - Less of the bad, more of the good equals a healthier, longer & happier life. With self-discipline, you would instead go on a hike than hit the pub or enjoy a salad over a burger because you know that self-discipline's satisfaction is much longer-lasting than the taste of that burger. A longer, happier life can be broken down into two words. Better decisions!
More happiness - What happens after you've done something you know you shouldn't have? That guilt sets itself in and makes itself right at home. Live guilt-free, make better choices & enjoy the benefits of a more peaceful, enjoyable life. There are plenty of highly enjoyable activities that are beneficial for you.
A better sense of purpose & direction - With self-discipline, you know where you're going and are heading there full steam ahead! Whether you're looking at inspiring others, being a great parent, advancing in your career, or anything similar, you'll be struggling the whole way through without discipline.
Achieving goals - Goals take consistent work. Consistent work takes self-discipline.
Better relationships - Often, the things that create tension or problems in a relationship can be avoided with better discipline. The discipline to not say something you know will make things worse, not go over someone, and avoid activities that cause tension like drinking and gambling.
Higher contribution to your family, friends & community - A disciplined mind is a sharp mind. The people around you need you at your sharpest! When things go wrong on a flight, you need to apply your oxygen mask before assisting others. Self-discipline is that mask!
More energy & focus - A self-disciplined person gets great sleep, knows when to turn off the emails, avoids energy drainers like alcohol, cigarettes, toxic relationships etc. They also know how to utilise time effectively. It's not that we don't have enough hours in a day. The problem is that we don't use those hours efficiently.
SELF-DISCIPLINE ACTION PLAN
Now for the fun part, your step by step guide to addressing the issues you experience, resolving them and finding better time management, peace, happiness, progress & consistency.
STEP 1: DISCOVERY
We need to determine what issues you're experiencing and write them down in this step. What's holding you back? Why are you unmotivated? Why is your energy not where it should be? Who is holding you back? Is your environment positive or negative?
We'll go over some examples now to help get you started. This activity will take 5 minutes and can be groundbreaking for your future progress. Answer the following questions honestly, and feel free to add more that apply to you.
STEP 2: REMOVAL
That that we can see what's holding us back. It's time for a spring cleaning!
In this step, we place all of our issues, setbacks and problems into two categories. Things that we can control or change and things that we can't control or change.
Once we know the points we can change, we focus entirely on those and forget what can't be changed.
To achieve great self-discipline, we need a solid foundation. This includes good sleep, routine, less of what holds us back (junk food, parties, tv, late nights), and more of what drives us forward. (hiking, healthy food, good friends etc.)
Take a moment to work out what you can cut and commit to doing so. Self-discipline is hard, and you need a clear and focused mind to achieve it consistently.
STEP 3: IMPLEMENTATION TOOLS & STRATEGIES
Reverse engineering - We know our goals, thanks to step one. These can be work, fitness, health-based or anything in between. Reverse engineering is when we break down what we need to do within the desired time frame. An example of this can be a 10 kg weight loss in 20 weeks. Break that down into 500 grams per week and adjust your strategy accordingly. Clear direction is critical, and without it, you'll drift off.
Essentialism - This is the practice of saying no much more often. Ask yourself, is this activity essential? Many of us think we can fit it all in when in reality, non-essential tasks keep you from what you need to be doing.
Time to start cutting! You can say no politely too, and when done correctly, people will appreciate your upfront honesty. Sorry, I'd love to help with this but can't give it the full attention it needs will usually suffice.
Journaling - We don't mean a dear diary where we talk about our high school crush here. Journaling has been a powerful tool used by some of the world's most brilliant minds for thousands of years!
Monitoring your progress and holding yourself accountable by writing down your training, food, education progress, business activities, or anything you want to improve will help keep you on track.
Without journaling, we have no idea what we did 3, 6 or 12 months ago. But with it, we can see the trajectory of our lives and progress and make clear assessments on what needs to be improved.
Acceptance - The world doesn't revolve around us, and setbacks, problems, plateaus and frustrations are a part of life. If you cannot control external situations, you can control your perception of them. Use them as fuel to practise and improve patience, resilience, focus, forgiveness, or whatever lesson you can extract.
Hold off on the resentment, self-pity, anger and so on, as this will only hold you back.
Scheduling - Book it in! Your training, your study, your food prep and so on. Most of the time, you don't miss a scheduled meeting but that training session that you promised yourself you'd get done? How many of those did you miss?
Lock it in and boost your chances of getting it done. Google calendar works great with multiple colour options to visualise and break down what needs doing.
Self-discipline is something we all need more of in our lives. It will help with happiness, relationships, progress, mental focus, well-being, longevity, mental health, etc.
We've broken down what self-discipline is and what setbacks we often experience, then went into an action plan that you can implement today to improve your self-discipline substantially.
Although external circumstances are unavoidable and affect all of us, it is always up to us how we perceive situations and either let them hold us back or use them as motivation or lessons to improve us moving forward.
We also know the benefits of having things scheduled. So if you're struggling with a regular training routine and would like further help, the next step is to organise an initial assessment with us.
We'll cover your goals, timeframes, training availability and other unique circumstances to put a plan in place to get you where you'd like to be.
We hope you found this article helpful, and as always, if you have any questions or feedback, please let us know in the comments or via our contact page.
Definition of self-discipline.
What Is Self-Discipline - Definitions and Meaning. https://www.successconsciousness.com/blog/inner-strength/what-is-self-discipline/
The Two Keys to Success: Discipline and Perseverance. https://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/yourmorningcupofinspiration/2019/05/two-keys-success-discipline-perseverance.html
What causes a lack of self-discipline.
How to overcome laziness.