What are five ways you can improve self discipline?
At the heart of any successful; person, is self discipline. Whether its success in their personal lives or their professional lives, it all starts with an inherent ability for self control through discipline. Your thoughts. Your emotions. And all your habits.
If you want to achieve those lofty goals you set, understanding how to discipline yourself is a key ingredient to the success recipe.
1. Watch your mouth.
No person can govern themselves if they don’t govern their tongue. Saint James wrote in his letter that “Someone who does not trip up in speech has reached perfection and is able to keep the whole body on a tight rein.”
This is absolutely truth. Wallace D. Wattles wrote that “There is no harder work than to think a consecutive thought, but I think that the effort of governing your tongue is even bigger. I know, because I tried both controlling my thoughts and controlling words I uttered. I found controlling my thoughts easier.”
Several methods that can help you with governing your speech:
- -free-style journaling; it reveals your internal voice and your speech patterns
- -introducing specific vocabulary to your utterances; try using a new word 10 times in one day; try saying 100 times a day “thank you” or “yes”; track how many times you say a specific curse and in the following days eliminate it from your vocabulary
- -silence; try to not say a word for a whole day or its part (e.g. two hours normally full of social interactions)
2. Watch your thoughts.
- Remember what Wattles said? It’s a hard work. No joke. If it wasn’t many people would have thought more and better thoughts at that. My friend, Randy Harris, said that we, as human being, are very lazy creatures. Majority of us prefer to leave their thinking on autopilot.
- This is part of the problem. If your thoughts were “on their own” for a very long time you amassed a whole load of thinking habits that are solidified, even petrified. Overcoming them is not an easy task.
- Everything that happens in your life starts in your head. All the work you do on everyday basis is the result of your thinking processes. Years ago you decided to go the college, to start the family or to get that job, and now you have to contribute on daily basis as a consequence.
So, the more discipline you can apply to your thinking, the more control you will be able to yourself and your deeds.
Helpful techniques in that regard:
- meditation; being present in the moment brings awareness about your inner chatter like nothing else
- -affirmations; it introduces new speaking patterns into your self-talk
- -cultivating gratitude; it makes your whole thinking more positive, I never met a single person who couldn’t have used more positivity in their thinking
- -changing your data sources; start following a new blogger, stop watching TV, start reading books every day- it all will shift your thinking
- -meeting new people; simply decide what qualities and way of thinking you would like to adopt and start seeking people who already have them, you will absorb them via social osmosis even without your conscious effort (but being intentional can speed up this process significantly)
3. Discipline your body.
- Your body, mind and soul are interconnected. Your whole life is a sum of complex processes. Everything affects everything else. Lack of discipline in one area spills over to other areas. I discovered that in my case self-discipline starts from controlling my bodily urges. I also see that a lot among people I know: my friends, workmates, church community members or coaching clients. Laziness causes zero physical activity which brings down a person to a lethargic level.
- So, foremost, start exercising. By “exercising” I mean any regular physical activity. It may be playing with your children, it may be sport, jogging or bodyweight exercises. Move your butt!
- If you can force yourself to do series of pushups to the point of failure it can only have positive effect on your self-discipline.
- Your sleep, eating and drinking habits are important as well. If you succumb too often to temptation of sweets, soda or snoozing the alarm clock one more time, your self-discipline will suffer.
Some methods to discipline yourself in those areas :
- -change your diet; introduce new, or more, kind of foods you know are healthy and useful for you, like eating one vegetable a day
- -wake up after the first alarm clocks signal, never snooze your alarm clock
- -eliminate some harmful foods from your diet;g. abstain from sweets for one day, one week, for ever
4. Master your habits.
- Your habits constitute who you are. If you habitually, overeat, beat yourself with your self-talk, curse, come always late, watch TV, over stimulate with alcohol or even coffee, complain, judge others in your mind, play video games for hours a day or procrastinate how can you be a self-disciplined person?
- If you habitually exercise, meditate, watch your thoughts and words, keep your promises, deliver projects on time, stick to a healthy diet, abstain from empty entertainments that you know are harmful for you, how can you NOT become a self-disciplined person?
- Some research determined that 40% of our behaviors are habitual. They constitute who you are, because those behaviors leverage the power of time. The rest 60% of your behaviors are random. One day you decide to eat a burger, another day a carrot. Those sovereign decisions nullify each other. The end result in the long period of time is close to zero. Your habitual behaviors compound and their result grow in power with time.
Thus, you should pay close attention to your habits.
- Learn how to break them apart. What triggers your behaviors? What’s the exact habit routine? What makes you to end up a particular activity? For example I practice speed reading on a subway train from work. When I arrive at my station it is the signal for my brain, to finish the practice session. Some bad habits have no clear endpoint, there are perpetual traps. When I watch TV my brain turns off. Only the end of the show or a commercial breaks take me out from the stupor. Similar, when I played computer games my endpoint was end of the game or total exhaustion.
- Learn how to develop good habits. Discover the construction of a habit loop and how identity habits work. Execute your new habit every day, this is the most effective method. Track your new disciplines. Build streaks of consecutive days when you did your habit successfully.
- Learn how to replace bad habits with good ones. Start small. For most that means one small habit at a time. The main measure of success in habit development is sustainability. If you can start and keep three habits at once, do it! If not, downgrade to your current level.
5. Watch your deeds.
- Your deeds speak louder than your words. That’s why tracking is so crucial in creating habits. If you didn’t experience it yourself, you surely know someone who abandoned their New Year’s resolution. Why? Our intentions are noble, but our deeds don’t follow up with them. We treat our announcements and promises as the reality that already happened. Well, they didn’t.
- If your deeds and promises don’t match it’s a clear indicator that your self-discipline need some work. If your integrity is adamant, you know what discipline means.
- A lot what I’ve already talked about—watching your thoughts, watching your words—will make you aware of any eventual discrepancies between your actions and declarations.
- If you spot any, you need to work on them. Are you breaking promises you make to others? Do you notoriously break promises you vow to yourself? Are you late for meetings? Are you late with your projects? Do you regularly go over your monthly budget? Do you succumb to your vices and foibles? Are you addicted to something or someone?
Answers to those questions are like the first steps in the Alcoholics Anonymous program. They create awareness about the issue.
Next, you need to work on those issues.
You can analyze why, when and how you fail, design a way out or prevention methods and apply them.
If you are late with your project, because you spend too much time on watching YouTube videos, block the site in your browser! (My real-life vice and my method to deal with it). Put obstacles on a way to your vices (it’s hard to sneak when you have no sweets at home). Make your virtues easier to materialize (if you put alarm clock on the other side of the room, it’s hard not to wake up to the first signal; you need to actually leave your bed to silence that thing!)
Work on a series of smaller issues one by one. Everything is interconnected inside you. Figure out enough small things and you become more self-disciplined in a by-the-way matter.