In life, you require discipline to move forward, in almost any capacity. Discipline is a means of enforcing your behaviour, or understanding why a code of behaviour is superior to others, based on your value judgements. For instance, most of us learn as children that in order to get along with others, sharing is important. That means we have to discipline ourselves (or our parents and teachers do it for us), by taking turns with other children, or helping them, or sharing the toys we are playing with. Some of these lessons come hard and fast, others are quite easy and a natural part of socialization.
However, disciplining ourselves in the presence of other people is often quite easy, because there are easily-understandable consequences for not following that code of understood behavior. Unfortunately, it’s much harder to discipline ourselves, particularly if the alternative looks more welcoming and friendly in the short-term. Most people, waking up each morning, would have a great time for about an hour if deciding to skip the gym and work, and just lay in bed eating ice cream all day instead. Then, when they realize just what they may be missing out on, while feeling a sugar crash, they see that discipline isn’t such a bad thing at all.
So – what five principles help you build a healthy relationship to self-discipline? Is it possible to do this well? Let’s consider, in the following terms:
Commit To A Course Of Action
It’s important to commit to a course of personal action in order to build discipline. It takes time and energy to build up momentum in any direction, and often, quickly stopping it can prevent you from building that momentum again with quite as much energetic flair.
So – if you commit to a course of action, how should you go about caring for it? It’s worth asking those questions because it’s not always apparent. For instance, you may decide that you wish to begin running so that you feel better in your body and mind. However, do you just get up and run when you feel like it? Even if you do that every day with a burst of energy, you’re sure to burn out soon enough.
With a structured program, like Couch 2 5k, you’ll run three times a week and increase your load each week. This means you’re not only seeing progress, but you’re more aware of what your responsibilities may be, and how to better utilize them in that pursuit. This can be healthy for anyone to enjoy. It can help you commit, because you know where your goals are, and how to use them in your stead. It helps momentum stay rolling. Don’t overlook this – as energy focused in a certain, structured direction can (and will) help people move mountains.
Stay Accountable To Yourself
It’s important to stay accountable to yourself. If you fail, don’t beat yourself up about it, but don’t make excuses. You might have felt tired and it might have been raining yes, but you know that you could have done it. Sometimes it’s okay to say ‘well, I didn’t really have an excuse for it, but I chose to fail.’ When put in such clear terms you can realize just what your triggers for failing in a task or goal are.
Then, if you really do have a valid excuse, you don’t have to feel bad about it after the fact. This clarity of mind, gifted to yourself through a dedication to honesty, helps you more easily stay disciplined and feel as though you have a positive path forward. It sounds so simple, but it can be extremely effective in helping you overcome those mental and spiritual obstacles in your path.
Build Discipline By Writing Down Your Wishes
It’s important to know why you’re doing something in the first place. Discipline isn’t a simple tool that can be used no matter what, it must be pointed in a direction. It’s much easier to do that if you know why you’re doing it. After all, it’s hard to tyrannize yourself. This is why soldiers aren’t told to train themselves, there are many strict punishments in place if you fail to meet the standards of the military.
Yet it’s hard to put all of those measures onto yourself. It might be, then, that you decide to write down your wishes to understand exactly what your reasons for this effort are. Do you hope to lose weight? Why? So that you can feel better? Because your Doctor has told you to? Because you know that your partner feels less satisfied when you don’t take care of yourself, and that energy floods into everything?
Those are good reasons. But it’s important to remember to write down your wishes, and to understand exactly why you should focus on them. Think them through. Know, without a shadow of a doubt, why they are important to you. This effort can help you grow, flourish, and become a better person. It will also mean that discipline stops feeling like a tense army drill sergeant, and more of a friend steering you in the right direction. However – the secret of all this is that the drill sergeant wants you to improve, too. This shift in mindset is where we mature.
Build Discipline With The ‘What-If?’ Mindset
The ‘what if’ mindset isn’t spoken of that often, but it can be a real boon in your personal motivation toolkit. It’s a simple question you can ask yourself when you’re feeling tired or as if you don’t want to continue on your path. You simply say ‘what if I did this?’ You might ask ‘what if I saw this through?’
This might begin by waking up on a dark, wet morning. You were planning to run this morning, but a grim nightmare and waking up strangely has put you in a bad mood, and you don’t really care about the entire thing. You’re happy to fall back asleep. But what if you did get up? What if you put on your new sports clothing and did a few warmups? What if you stopped making this excuse that you’re forming right now, and just went for it?
Well, odds are you’d return in an hour feeling like your entire world has been validated, and that you have a great day ahead. All from a little, simple, encouraging question that recommends you look outside of your current thought habits and instead took a chance. What if? Only you can answer that.
Think Through The Opposite
Sometimes it’s worth using the ‘carrot and stick’ approach. The carrot might be that yes, you’ll be able to lose weight, or pass that exam, or speak to that person you’ve been avoiding conflict with. But think through what might happen if you neglect your desire to improve.
Well, for one, you won’t feel that great in yourself. You might continue to put on weight and put your health in jeopardy. If you don’t study, you may have to retake the exam and put yourself in the exact same position on going forward. If you don’t engage with that person at work, you might simply allow their mistreatment to continue, to the point where you begin to dread starting your shift. Often, this theoretical fire, placed at our backsides, can spur us into action. And often, that’s much better than inaction.
With this advice, we hope you can build discipline in the best possible manner. It may take a few disciplines to get there, but remember, this is a journey, not an immediate and perfect state of being. We wish you the best of luck.