5 Self Discipline Techniques
Without self discipline, your streams of grace become a flood of disgrace. Never let indiscipline weigh you down for critics to pick mockeries on. ~ Israelmore Ayivo (Tweet this)
If self discipline is the true road to freedom then it’s something you need to start practicing right now. You might be thinking, “How do you teach yourself self discipline?” Thankfully, you don’t have to go through the Karate Kid ‘wax on, wax off’ methods. But there are some handy techniques you can implement to help you through the process. Before you start teaching yourself self discipline, remember this:
- Everyone starts the same: the same naked body with no skills
- Natural talent counts for a small percentage of success
You can have all the natural talent in the world, but if you don’t work at whatever it is you’re good at, nothing will come of it. So let’s look at five different techniques you can use to master self discipline and begin to find the personal freedom you’re looking for:
1. Remove Temptation
Have you ever caught yourself eating a bag of chips out of boredom, simply because it was in the house? Yeah, me too. Its one of the great failures of being a snack-a-holic. That’s what they call in “habit formation“, a trigger and an ability. You’re bored, so boredom eating is triggered. But you can follow up on the bad habit because the chips are actually there for you to eat. So let’s remove the chips from the situation; or, more importantly, remove them from the cupboard. If you want it so bad that you’re willing to go out to the shop and get it, then by all means, indulge a little. But removing the ease of giving in will help you make an informed decision. It is often an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ kind of deal with temptation. If you’re only doing it because it’s there and it’s easy to procrastinate and be distracted, take it away. Forget about it. This can also help if you need to improve your focus at work. You can:
- Keep your phone in another room (or locked in a drawer)
- Install a social-media-blocking app on your computer
- Remove the clutter from your work space
Self discipline becomes easier because once you take temptation out of the way, you’re much more able to stick to your convictions and reach the goals you’ve set yourself.
2. Motivate Yourself
Motivation may not be the power we once thought it was when it comes to forming habits. But, being motivated to do something can still have a powerful impact on whether you succeed, or you don’t. So let me ask you a question: what motivates you? It can be absolutely anything that makes you get out of bed in the morning and say, “Hey, you know what? I can do this!” For example, whenever I’m trying to lose weight, I don’t focus on getting a six-pack. Because that doesn’t hold any emotional weight with me. Instead I focus on:
- How good it’s going to feel to swim in the pool shirtless
- The way getting a glance off an attractive girl makes me smile
- Being able to buy lots of new pairs of jeans
So that when I do reach for that bag of chips, I remember that if I do eat them, I could be damaging my chances for all of those things. When you’re trying to find something to motivate you then, be sure it has:
- An emotional connection
- A relationship with what you’re trying to do
- Enough power to keep you on track
3. Embrace Empathy
You must be able to acknowledge trip-ups or mistakes and forgive yourself for them. After all, it’s not about who can stay on the horse, it’s about who is willing to get back on after they fall off. Empathy towards yourself is the best way to achieve that. Try this little system every time you find yourself stumbling and falling:
- Take a second to step back
- Think objectively about what caused you to stumble
- Embrace it, learn from it and let it go
And remember that you gain nothing from beating yourself up. All you’re doing at that point is wasting time and energy that could be spent getting back on track.
4. Change Your Words
Have you ever found yourself making an excuse and regretting it afterwards? Of course you have, we all have. But excuses only ever really mask your true feelings about a situation: that you’re scared, or worried or that just simply can’t be bothered. It’s time to become aware of this behavior and actively try to change it. The next time your brain tries to give you an out, think about whether the worst-case scenario situation being created is actually going to happen.
5. Plan Ahead
How often do you actually prepare for the day ahead? You might have a mental list of things to do, or places to be, but how often do you:
- Prepare your lunch
- Ready your materials
- Organize your workspace
- Pack your gym bag?
Ahead of time? Probably not as often as you should. It’s normally done in a morning rush, with a piece of toast in your mouth and a cup of coffee in your hands. But this manic process is a comfort routine. Despite being more hectic and stressful, it’s become a regular part of your life. All for the sake of five minutes work the night before. Not only can you reduce this stress by planning ahead, but you also hugely increase your chances of success. Ways you can plan ahead, helping to eradicate the burden of choice are:
- Plan your meals
- Organize your daily planner
- Pack your gym bag
- Put your running shoes next to the front door
- Create a nightly to-do list
They’re really simple things, but they free up your brain to think about other, more important things. If you’ve already decided what you’re going to eat for every meal this week you just do it, you don’t have to think about it.
Let’s Build Self Discipline
There are a few more articles in this series coming to help you get more disciplined. But, in the mean time, here’s what I want you to do.
- Choose one of these tactics
- Apply it to your life right now (not tomorrow)
- Make yourself accountable in the comments
- Measure your results
Ready? Set. Go…