- In life, we always want something, and self-discipline is the road we need to take to find it.
- Ideas will remain ideas if you don’t get them out of your head and into the real world.
- Don’t wait for the right moment, make yours the right one.
- Learn from your failure so that you don’t repeat the same mistakes.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle.
Self-discipline is not just a habit that we need to learn to change our lives. Self-discipline is the one true habit that gives us full control over our lives and helps us acquire all the other habits that we want.
In my journey to learn self-discipline, I struggled the most with overly ambitious goals. Normally, I would start building a new habit with enthusiasm that diminishes easily and is replaced with stress and frustration. As a result, I learned that setting reasonable goals for the process is far more important than reaching bigger goals quickly and losing my peace over it.
Therefore, like I did, you’ll find that learning throughout the process is as vital as learning about the process. And through this article, I’ll share with you some of my findings until, hopefully, you come up with your own. So, keep on reading to find out how to develop self-discipline.
1. Set Your Goals
In the movie Alice in Wonderland, Alice was lost and asked the Cheshire Cat “What road do I take?” To that, the Cheshire Cat answers: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”
Similarly, if you don’t have a goal in mind, then you don’t need to build self-discipline. Just do whatever you want, and you’ll always be wherever you –didn’t– expect to be.
However, in life, we always want something, and self-discipline is the road we need to take to find it.
To get started, you need to set a goal to work towards. But your goals should be SMART. Meaning they have to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Remember, setting a non-SMART goal can be your fast ticket to failure and frustration.
Additionally, start with easier goals. For example, if you want to read a book in a week, maybe start with an easier target of one chapter per day. Moreover, if you want to work out for 30 minutes a day, maybe start by doing 10–15 minutes a day for a month. Once you get there, you might be able to start another goal of 20–30 minutes a day.
2. Make Your Goals a Reality by Writing Them Down
Ideas will remain ideas if you don’t get them out of your head and into the real world.
If you have any goal or idea that you want to make true, write it down on a piece of paper, a sticky note, or a vision board. Furthermore, put your goals where you can see them every day to encourage yourself to work towards them and achieve them.
Additionally, use tools that help you track your progress such as checklists or to-do lists. You can download applications that help you keep track of your progress and motivate you into finishing your daily tasks.
3. Create a Compelling Environment
Once you’ve made up your mind on your goals and how to achieve them, you need to prepare your work environment. To do that, you have to remove any possible distractions from your workplace so that there’s nothing to do but what you want to accomplish.
Keep in mind that this can act as a signal to you that something has changed and you’re ready to change too and develop self-discipline.
4. Don’t Wait for the Right Moment, Just Do It
It’s a common mistake to always wait for the beginning of the next week, month, or year to do something different with your life. However, waiting for the right moment might create all sorts of obstacles that can delay you further.
Don’t wait for the right moment, make yours the right one. If you want to build self-discipline, just start whatever you’re planning to do, and you’ll find that you seized the right moment.
5. Look for Encouraging Friends and Mentors
Sometimes, it can be hard to start something on your own and hold yourself accountable. At times, you would feel the pressure and might become overwhelmed and depressed.
That’s why you need to find yourself a friend to hold you accountable and check up on you from time to time. Besides, this can be a two-way accountability relationship where both of you support each other to pursue certain goals and do things that you both want to achieve.
Furthermore, having a successful mentor who has already accomplished so much in their life can give you the motivation you need to act quickly and develop self-discipline. Plus, they can be good friends, and help you think about different aspects of your life that might need a switch too.
6. Reward Yourself After Every Step
Achieving your goals is something, and staying true to the process is something else. That’s why you need to reward yourself after every small goal you reach, or at equal intervals through your progress to help you keep going.
Moreover, buying yourself a new item of clothing or a gadget after reaching a big goal can go a long way. You can also treat yourself to a nice meal out, especially, if you have been going through a strict diet as a part of the self-discipline routine.
7. Forgive Yourself if You Fail and Get Back Up Again
In life, we’re all destined to fail, but failures don’t last. What lasts is us and our will to do more and improve ourselves during our path to build self-discipline. Therefore, whenever faced with failure, don’t dwell on it and be ready to get back up again.
Set your alarm for the next day, make your schedule the same as always, and add what you’ve missed from the previous day to your list. But this time, learn from your failure so that you don’t repeat the same mistakes. Because, “when you repeat a mistake, it is not a mistake anymore: it’s a decision.” – Paulo Coelho.
In the end, remember that practice makes perfect, and self-discipline is not an act, it’s a process. That’s why you need to keep doing what you’re doing until you get there. But eventually, you’ll be good at it and it will affect every aspect of your life. And that’s how you develop self-discipline.