By Amarachuwu Okpunobi
It’s the last month of the year. How did you spend your year. Pretty well, you must have resolved to stopping and starting many things at the beginning of the year but still end up not achieving them. Feels bad right? But hey, you can try again next year with a different yet better and improved self. That’s to get yourself disciplined. This piece will help you a great deal in beating self to do better and great next year. Let’s talk about self discipline…
What Is Self-Discipline?
Self-discipline is the ability to push yourself forward, stay motivated, and take action, regardless of how you’re feeling, physically or emotionally. You are showing it when you intentionally choose to pursue something better for yourself, and you do it in spite of factors like distractions, hard work, or unfavorable odds.
Self-discipline is different from self-motivation or willpower. Motivation and willpower contribute to it, as do persistence, the ability to follow through on your intentions, and hard work.
Why Work on Your Self-Discipline?
Self-discipline is useful in many areas of our lives.
For instance, it’s what pushes you to do high-quality work, even when you don’t feel like it. It gives you the strength to stay professional with your clients, even when you’re ready to throw in the towel. It helps you stick with and achieve tough goals that you set for yourself. Self-discipline also enables you to keep going through to great success, despite what others might see as seemingly insurmountable odds.
It can also improve learning and enhance performance. Studies have shown that students with a high degree of self-discipline retained more knowledge than those without self-discipline. Additionally, researchers discovered that students with strong self-discipline were more careful in their tasks, which improved their performance.
How to Develop Self-Discipline
Self-discipline is like a muscle: the more you work on developing it and using it, the stronger it will become.
However, it’s just as important not to start out with goals that are too ambitious. Instead, set small goals, and increase the level of challenge slowly over time. The more you practice, the better you’ll become.
Here, 5 steps are x-rayed which can help you develop self discipline :
- Choose a Goal
Begin by choosing just one goal that you want to focus on to develop your self-discipline. For instance, perhaps you want to start exercising every evening, or you want to read one leadership book a week to enhance your skills. You could even practice self-discipline on very small goals such as concentrating on a piece of work for an hour without checking your messages, or avoiding unhealthy food for one day.
Remember, starting small is the best way to start developing your self-discipline. As your discipline gets stronger, you can spread the focus to more areas of your life.
Make sure that the goal you set is SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound – and break the goal down into smaller sub-goals, where you can.
- Find Your Motivation
Once you’ve chosen a goal, list the reasons why you want to achieve it. Try to express these reasons in a positive way.
So, instead of saying “I want to exercise three times a week to lose weight,” say “I want to exercise so that I have the energy to play with my kids and work successfully.” Or, instead of saying “I want to get this task off my To-Do List,” say “I want to do this task, so that I can meet my objectives, get praise from my boss, and feel satisfied with my day’s work.”
When you list the reasons why you want to achieve something, you’ll find it much easier to get the job done.
- Identify Obstacles
Now you need to identify the obstacles that you’ll likely face when working toward your goal, and devise a strategy for overcoming each one.
For instance, imagine that your goal is to read one leadership book a week to enhance your skills. In the past, you’ve faced a number of obstacles in reaching this goal. For example, when you find a book you like, it’s hard to find time each night to read. Between work, dinner, and the kids, your time is taken up until late in the evening. And, you get distracted by messages coming in while you’re reading.
Once you’ve identified obstacles, come up with a strategy to overcome each one. In this example, you could do the following:
Instead of going to a bookstore, spend an hour looking at leadership books online. Find several that interest you, and that have good reviews. Order all of them at once, and download them to an e-book reader or tablet, so that you always have a book on hand to read.
Find more time in your day to focus on reading. Perhaps you could read during your lunch hour, or while you’re waiting to pick your kids up from school.
Turn your phone off when you want to focus on reading.
Often our self-discipline crumbles because we haven’t identified the obstacles that we’ll face achieving our goals, and we haven’t developed strategies to overcome them. When these obstacles show up, we’re unprepared to deal with them, and this shakes our resolve. Don’t skip this step!
- Replace Old Habits
When we’re developing self-discipline, we’re often trying to break a bad habit and replace it with something more productive. However, if that habit is tied into a certain time of day or routine, breaking it can leave a hole. If we don’t replace that habit with something else, then its absence becomes even more noticeable.
A good example is if you’re trying to stop yourself shopping online when you take a break at work. This bad habit destroys your focus and attention, because you’re likely to be online for 20-30 minutes each time.
Once you have resolved to stop, identify a new behavior that you can engage in when you need a quick break. Instead of online shopping, you could do some stretches in your office, get a cup of coffee, or take a quick walk outside. These behaviors will help support your goal and strengthen your self-discipline, instead of leaving you with nothing to do on your break.
- Monitor Your Progress
As you work on your self-discipline, pay attention to how you’re feeling as it develops and strengthens. You might feel free, happy, proud, and energized.
Also, think about keeping a journal to write down your self-discipline goals and to track your progress. This reinforces the positive changes that you’re implementing in your life, and gives you a record that you can look back on to see the progress that you have made.
Over time, your self-discipline will strengthen, and you’ll be able to apply it to lots of other areas of your life.
This piece is coiled from mindtools. com.