- Why is self-discipline important?
- How will self-discipline help us?
- 7 Ways To Master Self-Discipline
This post is about self-discipline, Its importance, benefits and 7 ways to help you master it
With January gone by in what seems like the blink of an eye, one thing that is clear to me, with my ever-growing to-lists is this: I must really do something about my self-discipline. I have noticed that these days, when I get overwhelmed, I freak out. Then I end up not doing all the things I meant to do. Yes, I miss my Mom, because she would constantly encourage me and soothe me with her loving words and a cup of coffee.
So yes, now I imagine her doing it all the time, but there are days when I enjoy the coffee and the basking in nostalgia—but don’t get everything done. Of course, I find excuses and rationalize why I didn’t. Doesn’t always feel good.
I am not always like this. Most of the time I am pretty organized and self-disciplined, but I was alarmed to look in my notebook and count at least six days when I slacked off. Sure, I caught up, but that’s not how it should be.
When I visited some of my favorite blogs today—the ones that had linked up with January’s Gratitude Circle blog hop which I host on the last Thursday of every month, I found most of them mentioning that January had just whizzed by.
Also, January is the month when most people set intentions and goals, and resolve to make major life changes, only to fall back into the usual rut a few days later. In fact, did you know Jan 19 is Quitter’s Day—when most people fall off the resolution wagon? Really! Why does that happen?
Or a lack of it, as the wise people would say.
The good news is, it is possible to get back on that wagon.
If you’ve decided to wake up earlier, exercise more, eat healthier, save more . . . you can do it. You know exactly what to do to achieve these goals. Yet most of us struggle with taking action. How to overcome this challenge?
Again, the answer is self-discipline.
Why is self-discipline important?
Simple—if you want to accomplish what you want to, without self-discipline, you cannot do it. In life, the best choices are not always the quickest, easiest or pleasantest. Unless we control our emotions and behavior and forge ahead to do what’s best for us. Getting off our behinds requires self-discipline, a skill we must develop if we want to progress.
How will self-discipline help us?
When we have a stronger sense of self-control, we’ll see improvements in all areas of our lives.
Here are just seven benefits of self-discipline
When we are more disciplined, we enjoy better health. We become more conscious about what and how much we eat. We establish a regular fitness routine and remember to drink enough water—all of which helps us manage our weight. We reduce our chances of falling sick and in general, enjoy life more. We age better.
Whether you are in school or have a job, self-discipline helps you make choices that lead to success. The choice between studying longer hours and hanging out with friends. The choice between staying late at work and skipping dinner because you have a deadline—and heading home to be with family and relaxing. Self-discipline shows you the value of delayed gratification, which has long-term benefits.
Self-discipline makes you follow through on your commitments. People trust you to do what you say and they like you more.
Better control over life is more likely to lead to better financial health. Of course, it is more fun to spend on that thing you covet than save that money. But when you have the strength to control that impulse, you are usually better off. Not saying scrimp and sacrifice basic things, but identify between needs and wants. No need to be miserable. But no need to splurge and regret, either. Think before you spend. Make a monthly budget, allocating funds to discretionary spending and try to stick to it. Put aside a part of your paycheck into your savings. Enjoy the present, but not at the expense of the future.
When we make better choices, we usually have fewer regrets in life. That’s a direct benefit of being self-disciplined. We think before we speak, we avoid jumping into conclusions. We make informed decisions based on fact rather than emotion or opinion. Right?
Smarter time management
We are so used to whining about not having enough time, thanks to our hectic lifestyles and multiple things competing for our attention. When we practice self-discipline, we make better use of our time. Instead of falling into the trap of scrolling through social media mindlessly, especially when we know we should be doing something else, we focus on our priorities. (Yes, so guilty of that! You?)
More motivated to finish what you start
It is customary to feel highly motivated while beginning anything new. Whether it is a work project or the start of a new relationship, or a new diet plan, you feel fully charged. Yet, over time, the excitement wanes a bit and you start losing steam. Reality stares you in the face and it is so tempting to just give up.
When you exercise self-control, you choose to finish what you start even when you feel like slowing down or hit a hurdle. You make sure you stick to your timeframe to reach your goal. You learn skills and lessons that you wouldn’t if you had quit.
“Self-discipline is the ability to do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not.” Elbert Hubbard
So now that the importance and benefits of self-discipline are clear, how can one master this skill?
Self-discipline is a combination of identifying your goals and making the shift in mindset to prioritize the choices that push you forward to attaining them, regardless of how you feel. But mastering self-control does not happen overnight. It takes time. But with practice and effort, it is possible to improve, grow and become the best version of yourself.
7 Ways To Master Self-Discipline
Start with why
If you thought self-discipline was all about to-do lists, planners and the like, think again! Sure, you need them but the first thing you must do is to be clear on why you chose your goals. For example, if you want to lose weight, why do you want to lose it? Becoming slimmer is not a strong enough reason to keep you motivated to stick to your diet and exercise routine.
But when you identify the strong emotional reason why you set your goals, it keeps you working hard to get there. Maybe your real reason is to be healthy, live longer, be more self-confident, have more energy to spend with your kids? Your reason must be strong enough to keep you motivated.
A big part of self-discipline is your ability to delay gratification. When you look at options, you choose to give up short-term benefits for long-term benefits. But do feel free to set your rewards.
If weight loss is your goal and you have a diet plan in place, stick to the diet plan all week. Over the weekend, allow yourself one treat – a food you enjoy. Take care to make it with heathier ingredients.
When you make choices that lead to long-term benefits without having to suffer in the short-term, you are more likely to make sustainable changes that you’ll stick to.
Give yourself fewer options
Simplify your life. Coming back to the weight loss goal, plan your meals. Stock your fridge and pantry with healthy foods. This eliminates the possibility of going off your plan.
When you sit to work, remove anything that does not help you finish the job at hand. Keep only what is necessary.
Apply this in other aspects of your life, too. You’ll find yourself more focused.
Visualize the process
This is my favorite method. The process of building self-discipline requires constant motivation. Visualize the steps you will take to achieve your goals. Walk yourself through the process.
When I decided to start walking in the morning, I struggled to wake up early because I slept late at night. When I went to bed, I’d visualize myself waking up when my alarm went off, getting dressed and heading out. I’d picture the route I’d take, until I got back home. I’d imagine feeling good. I’d visualize lower blood sugars. And of course, coffee. And that would motivate me to do what I had to do.
Take care of your basic needs
It is a fact that when you have to start and build new habits and maintain self-control, you can do it much better when you eat well, rest well, hydrate well and are comfortable in your surroundings. So, ensure that you do all of those. Eat healthy food, drink enough water and get enough rest before you go after your goals.
See the positive side
How you see things makes a great difference to how you go about your day. When you start something new, it is bound to have its ups and downs. Some things feel downright boring and maybe even frustrating. Self-discipline helps you push past this stage to achieve your goal.
Let’s say you have to give a presentation and you’re nervous. You can do one of two things. First, crib about what a lousy job you have and delay it. Or you can appreciate how fortunate you are to be where you are, with the opportunity to showcase your knowledge. You can be grateful for that regular paycheck that pays your bills.
Yet another way to cultivate self-discipline is to look at your goal and see yourself as the person who has already achieved it.
Continuing with the fitness example, think about what people who have achieved their healthy weight loss goal do. Now see yourself as that person. Eat healthy, enjoy your fitness routine. You will be inspired to get there faster than you think.
It wouldn’t hurt to have a role model here. Think of someone you admire. What makes them who they are?
Understanding the importance of self-discipline, then taking steps to improve this most critical skill is perhaps the best thing you can do for yourself. The reward is a fulfilling life. Live with intention. Do your best for you!