It’s no secret that self-discipline is a valuable characteristic to possess. After all, it’s vital for achieving life-long objectives. However, mastering the self-disciplined journey is full of challenges. The struggle often lies in the battle between our Present Self and Future Self, with our Present Self craving instant gratification and frequently emerging victorious.
In this article, I’ll unravel the major obstacles that make self-discipline so daunting and share 7 powerful techniques to help make your journey toward self-discipline smoother. Plus, I’ve included a 7-step plan that you can follow to improve your self-discipline.
What Is Being Self-Disciplined And What It Is Not.
Self-discipline is the ability to control oneself and make decisions that align with one’s goals, even in the face of distractions or difficulties. It is not about being rigid and inflexible or depriving oneself of enjoyment; rather, it is about prioritizing long-term success over short-term gratification. A self-disciplined person sets boundaries and makes mindful choices that help develop healthy habits and achieve desired outcomes. For the purposes of this article, let’s used this definition of self-disciplined:
“Someone who is self-disciplined has the ability to control themselves and to make themselves work hard or behave in a particular way without needing anyone else to tell them what to do.”Collins
Now, discipline and self-discipline are not the same as they have one major difference. When you are self-disciplined you look inward, setting your own goals to guide your behavior. Where discipline is focused on obeying an external force such as an organization and their laws or rules. So, a key component of self-discipline is setting a vision and specific goals for yourself.
Why Is Being Self-Disciplined So Hard?
Being self-disciplined can be challenging because it often requires sacrifice, persistence, and restraint. The human brain is wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain, so it may naturally resist activities that involve hard work, discomfort, or delayed rewards. Additionally, external factors like stress, social pressure, or distractions can make it difficult to stay disciplined and focused on one’s goals. Below are 5 major reasons it is so hard to be self-disciplined.
5 Challenges Encountered On The Self-Disciplined Journey
1. Setting Unrealistic Goals and Expectations.
If your goals and expectations are not realistic, then any act of self-discipline is challenging. For example, if you decide to lose 20 pounds in a month, it’s an unrealistic goal unless you’re planning for extreme measures, which are unhealthy. This unrealistic expectation can lead to frustration and disappointment, which might cause you to abandon your goal altogether. A more realistic goal would be to aim for a gradual, healthy weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week.
2. Self-Discipline Comes With Many Hardships.
A self-disciplined person requires making difficult decisions and sacrifices. Indeed, these hardships can come in many forms to include physical, mental, and emotional sensations. This can include pain, stress, much exertion, and even a crisis in confidence. For instance, it might mean waking up at 5 AM to hit the gym before work, or choosing a salad over a burger for lunch. These hardships can take a toll, especially when the results of self-discipline aren’t immediate. The path of self-discipline is often a long and strenuous one, filled with many hardships and moments of temptation.
3. A Struggle Between Short-term Desires and Long-term Goals.
One of the toughest aspects of self-discipline is the ongoing battle between immediate gratification and long-term success. Indeed, it is a challenge when your Present Self has to do much of the work, but your Future Self gets most of the benefits. For example, you might want to binge-watch a TV series now, but you also know that studying for your upcoming exam can lead to better grades and a successful future. Resisting the allure of immediate pleasure for the sake of long-term goals is a constant struggle when practicing self-discipline.
4. Developing New Habits Are Tough.
Incorporating new habits into your routine is another challenging aspect of self-discipline. For example, if you’re trying to cultivate the habit of reading every day, it can be difficult to stick to this routine, especially in the beginning when you’re still trying to adjust. It takes time, patience, and a lot of willpower to develop and maintain a new habit.
5. Setbacks Are Discouraging.
Lastly, setbacks can be incredibly disheartening on the path to self-discipline. Worse, if you do not pace yourself it can lead to burnout, the ultimate discouragement. Also, setbacks can occur by getting bored, distractions or giving into temptation. For instance, after weeks of staying disciplined with your diet and exercise routine, you might give in to temptation and indulge in junk food, or skip workouts. Such setbacks can be discouraging and can make you feel like all your hard work has been in vain. However, it’s essential to remember that setbacks are a part of the journey, and it’s how you bounce back that truly matters.
For more information on the difficulties with being self-disciplined, see DisciplinedRebel’s Why Self-Discipline is Difficult (& How to Make it Easier).
Techniques To Make Self-Discipline Easier.
To make self-discipline more manageable, try breaking your goal into smaller tasks or milestones that are easier to achieve. This can help create a sense of progress and motivation as accomplishments build upon one another. Another approach is to establish routines and rituals that reinforce discipline by creating consistency. Visualizing success and the benefits of achieving your goal can also serve as powerful motivators for staying disciplined. To detail, see examples below of 7 techniques you can use to make the self-disciplined journey easier.
7 Techniques To Make The Self-Disciplined Journey Easier
1. Be Specific With Manageable Tasks And Prioritize Your To-Do List.
Let’s say you’re working on a book. Instead of setting a broad goal like “write a book”, break it down into smaller tasks like “outline the chapters”, “write the introduction”, and so forth. Prioritize these tasks based on their importance and urgency. This technique makes the project seem less daunting and increases your chances of accomplishing your goal.
2. Embracing the Power of Positive Thinking.
Imagine you’re training for a marathon. Instead of dwelling on how tiring and challenging the training can be, focus on the benefits such as improved health and the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel when you cross the finish line. Positive thinking can make the process more enjoyable and motivate you to stick to your training program.
3. Use the Power of Habit.
Consider a person trying to quit smoking. The habit of reaching for a cigarette during breaks can be replaced with healthier habits, such as taking a short walk or drinking a glass of water. Over time, these healthier habits can become automatic, making it easier to abstain from smoking.
4. Eliminate Distractions And Temptations.
Suppose you’re studying for an exam, but you’re constantly distracted by your phone. By turning your phone off or keeping it in another room, you remove the temptation to check social media or respond to messages, allowing you to focus on your studies.
5. Align the Interests of Your Present Self and Future Self.
One way to do this is to make it as easy and convenient as possible for your Present Self to do tasks that contribute to your long-term goals. Also, look for ways to find joy in the process of being self-disciplined.
For example, if your Future Self wants to be fit and healthy, your Present Self might not enjoy the idea of working out regularly. To align these interests, you could choose a form of exercise you genuinely enjoy, like dancing or hiking, and create a routine that is easy to follow. This way, your Present Self is having fun, and your Future Self benefits from the regular exercise. Indeed in most cases, the self-discipline journey can be a satisfying and rewarding experience.
6. Find Accountability Partners.
If you’re trying to lose weight, having a workout partner can make the process easier. They can provide motivation on days when you don’t feel like exercising, and knowing that someone else is depending on you can push you to stay committed to your workout routine. According to Brian Tracy,
“Setting a specific goal makes you 10% more likely to achieve it. But committing to someone else that you will do it increases your success rate by 65%, and making an appointment to report back to that person raises it even higher to 95%.”
7. Embracing and Learning from Failure.
Imagine you’re learning to play the piano. You’re likely to make a lot of mistakes at first, but instead of getting discouraged, see each mistake as a learning opportunity. This mindset can make the learning process less stressful and more enjoyable, improving your chances of sticking with it until you master the skill.
For more information on techniques to help being self-disciplined easier, see DisciplinedRebel’s Why Self-Discipline is Difficult (& How to Make it Easier).
Steps To Become More Self-Disciplined.
“Self-discipline begins with the mastery of your thoughts. If you don’t control what you think, you can’t control what you do. Simply, self-discipline enables you to think first and act afterward.”Napoleon Hill
Becoming a more self-disciplined person takes practice and dedication. Begin by clearly defining your goals—knowing what you want to achieve will provide a sense of direction and purpose. Next, create an action plan that outlines specific steps to reach your objectives. Anticipating challenges or obstacles ahead of time will allow you to develop strategies for overcoming them when they arise. Finally, hold yourself accountable by tracking your progress regularly and celebrating small victories along the way; this will encourage continued self-discipline in pursuit of your goals.
There is a lot of advice out there on how to become more self-disciplined. As an example, below are the 7 Steps To Develop Self-Discipline from Brian Tracy. The most important thing to do is get started and stay with it.
- Decide What You Want
- Identify And Remove Temptations
- Find An Accountability Partner
- Write Your Goals Down
- Make To-Do Lists
- Organize Your Lists
- Create An Action Plan
Writer and Supply Chain Tech Expert. Passionate about giving actionable insights on information technology, business, innovation, creativity, and life in general.