One of the biggest things I’ve learned from being an entrepreneur is learning how to have self-discipline.
Of course, I still have my issues.
I still have my slumps and sometimes take way too many breaks.
But overall, I’d consider myself more disciplined than when I first started my business.
The thing with self-discipline though is that it’s not just relevant in running a business. There are many practical life applications of this trait. In fact, having this kind of self-control can lead to people being a lot happier.
Think about it.
If you have more self-control, you’d spend less time debating over healthy or unhealthy choices. You spend less time dwelling and spending brain power on making decisions. And let’s face it, today we face thousands of decisions in any given day.
Being able to be level-headed in our decision making can lead to us being more satisfied. After all, if we have more self-discipline, we spend more time on what we do want in life.
We have #priorities.
But how does one become self-disciplined? After all, it’s not just something you automatically get. It’s in fact obtained through a variety of practices I’ll outline below.
Know Your Weaknesses And Choke Them Out
The first one is knowing what major roadblocks are in your way. These roadblocks in your life often are created from your own weaknesses. Examples of weaknesses can take the form of fears or anxieties. Or maybe you have a tendency to procrastinate.
Whatever your weaknesses are, it’s important for you to address them.
So many people cover these weaknesses up and try to act as if they don’t exist. This is a bad thing to do because it doesn’t address the issue itself. You can’t progress until you address it.
And part of addressing the issue is to find a way to manage them. This is what I mean by choking them out.
When you have little room for your weaknesses to move around, you can focus on strengthening yourself and moving forward.
So what can you do to choke out these weaknesses? Consider these strategies:
- Reduce the influence of triggers – a common example is food cravings. They stop you from living a healthier life of course. However, one way to stay devoted to healthier foods is to buy less unhealthy stuff and stock up on healthy foods.
- Ask yourself why – When you understand why you do certain things you can better deal with the issue. An example of this is my reasoning for working outside of my room at times. I found my productivity curbs if I spend too much time in my room. I found out why and addressed the problem.
Set Some Clear Goals & Action Plan
Clarity is an important aspect of self-discipline. If you have no clear road, then how do you intend to stay focused?
One of the most common methods to achieve clarity is setting distinct goals and a clear action plan to get there.
Of course, you don’t want to restrict yourself. Like I mentioned in qualities of long-term goals, you want to be flexible and be able to deviate if necessary. But at the same time, you want to be sure that your goals are clear and that your plan to reach there is solid.
This sort of flexibility is important as it helps you to avoid distractions and to dwell on things that aren’t that important. For example, in my life, I’m not that active on social media. For the longest time, I considered that a huge problem.
After all, if you have a business you should be promoting it like crazy.
But I don’t do that.
Only after I had a recent meeting with another fellow writer did I learn that’s okay. In fact, it could be very helpful for my business in the sense I’m so inactive. I could use that inactivity to deliver powerful and meaningful messages. Best of all, people wouldn’t feel overwhelmed or struggle to find it because of my infrequent, yet consistent messages.
But going back to the thing at hand, me being inactive on social media can be a massive point of distraction. I could set goals but they would lack direction compared to areas I’m more focused on like my health, Medium, this blog, or other areas of writing.
Be clear with where you want to focus yourself and have plans that focus those areas.
Keep The Process Simple
Self-discipline isn’t something that we get from our genes. It’s a skill that we all can get to and master. It’s all through how we behave and how we grow around that aspect.
Because of this, the best way to practice growing that skill is by keeping the processes we have as simple as possible.
How you set your goals, to what habits you are trying to develop, you want the process to be easy for you. Ironically, this means a lot of testing and experimentation which is far from easy and take a lot of time.
For sure the whole task can be daunting, but if you want this to be second nature, you need to understand what makes you tick.
What makes you focused on your task or habit?
Can you make that process easier by breaking the steps into smaller pieces?
One thing that I learned in developing self-discipline is to have no shame in taking baby steps.
If you want to get in better shape, go for a walk. That or do stretches for 10 to 15 minutes per day.
Want to start a business? Dedicate one hour every day to generate ideas, think about what you’re passionate about, and doing research on costs, and how to start a business properly.
Want better sleeping habits? Get to bed 20 minutes earlier than normal.
On paper, these are the base activities that form bigger habits and help us change and grow. The process is incredible, but it all comes back to the simple actions we’re taking.
Keep them simple and small.
Eat Regularly And Healthy
This tip isn’t just for people who want to be healthier. This is a tip for everyone.
Are you familiar with the mood hangry? It’s where you are angry or annoyed while also hungry.
This is actually a legit thing that people feel even if it seems like an odd and made-up word. Research has shown that when we have lower blood sugar, our willpower or self-discipline, starts to go along with it. When we enter that hangry state, we are grumpy, pessimistic, and more likely to indulge in our temptations.
When we are hungry, we generally have difficulties concentrating and that means our disciplined mindset will take a beating too.
You want to make sure that you are eating regularly and that you’re eating well. That means fruits, veggies, and protein. Don’t be ashamed to have snacks on the regular as well. Snacks are pretty cool.
Challenge Your Self-Discipline Limits
One study from Stanford University found that the amount of self-discipline we have is akin to how much we think we have.
While many people might not think about it, I think it’s worth looking at our belief system. If self-doubt and low self-esteem isn’t a clear indicator, we value our thoughts a lot. As a result, knowing where you think your limits are is key.
If you want to be getting more self-discipline, you need to be able to extend that. If you don’t, you won’t be able to surpass it.
All you have to do with this method if be able to overcome your subconscious obstacles and believe you can make it. You’d be surprised how far you can go with that alone.
Have Backup Plans
On the road to self-discipline, there will be several obstacles. If you’re eating healthy and you’re attending a social event it can be difficult to resist. There will always be avenues that can distract you and tempt you no matter the situation.
In those kinds of situations, it’s important to have a backup plan. You know that you can’t avoid the problem, so find a way to tackle it head-on.
In the example of the social event, a good backup plan could be to use a smaller plate and fill it with all the healthy food options there. That or maybe you want to focus on mingling with other people.
Set clear priorities before you get there can put you into that mindset and you’re more likely to follow through with it.
The idea of a backup plan is comforting as it’s a way out of a tough situation. But when you reach that state where you can do that, it shows a tremendous amount of commitment.
The fact you are committed so much you’ll find a plan to stay firm to your values is incredible. I’d even go as far as having some level of mastery over temptations which are difficult to overcome.
It’s easy to look at those situations and cave in and in the grand scheme of things, a small setback isn’t big of a deal. But from my experience, it’s easy to use this excuse in all manner of things.
So instead of doing that, make sure that you have something in place to help you get back on track. Something to get you to recommit should you fall off track.
One of the issues with developing habits or working towards goals is motivation. For sure, you can be motivated to be a self-disciplined individual. But the reality is you can only keep that momentum for so long.
You’re going to need to find ways to be able to reward yourself along the way.
And no the reward shouldn’t be setting yourself back from your goals. But something related to your goal that gets you excited.
Another way you can think of this incentive is like coffee cards. After you make a certain number of purchases you “treat yourself” to a free cup of coffee (or tea). You want to go for something similar.
One idea that comes to mind can be eating healthy foods all week and for your last healthy meal have a healthy dessert like a piece of fruit.
Another is the reward system that I use for my work. On occasion, I go down to a coffee shop and commit several hours to write articles. My treat to staying committed to my work is some nice tea and a different atmosphere to write.
All in all, it has be something to get excited for and look forward to having. This will give you the motivation to stick through and is another reason to focus on your goal.
Forgive And Move Forward
Even with all of these systems in place, we can face failure. It’s part of the process. While there is no way to avoid it, you can address it and begin to overcome it.
Similar to what I mentioned above with backup plans. It’s best to have something in place to get you out of those states of mind.
This is what you must do if you want to develop self-discipline. By dwelling on the past, you are placing limitations on yourself and are falling behind. Instead, you’re better off admitting it, finding the source of the problem, and deal with it.
Never give up. Keep moving forward. Can’t lose.
Self-discipline is a habit that needs nurturing and time like everything else. Be patient with it. You’ll get there in due time.
To your growth!
Eric S Burdon