Self-discipline is important for anyone who wants to be successful. Those who have a lot of self-discipline are able to maintain control over their own compulsions and desires, which allows them the opportunity to stay focused on the task at hand.
Self-discipline doesn’t come easy, though. It’s important to learn how to develop self-discipline if you want to have a good chance at accomplishing some serious, long-term goals. It doesn’t matter what sort of goals this may be - losing weight, finishing a test, or getting to a good position in your career. All of these things take self-discipline.
1. Understand your weaknesses
Everyone's got weaknesses, and to say otherwise about yourself is to do yourself a disservice. If you don’t understand your own weaknesses, how can you work to overcome them? One of the most important, and difficult, parts of self-improvement and learning self-discipline, is acknowledging that you have some weaknesses.
The positive side of this is it allows you to validate your strengths better. Those who admit their weaknesses actually become a lot stronger, which helps them become more disciplined.
2. Refrain from temptation
Temptations are difficult, but removing them from your environment isn’t the best way to overcome them. Sure, that’s a great way to start - but the real test of self-discipline is being able to be around your temptations and turn them down.
Realistically, though, unless you’re willing to move into the woods and never talk to anybody, there are going to be temptations around. It’s best to learn to deal with them!
3. Define your goals
There’s nothing more dangerous for people striving to develop self-discipline than a lack of clear goals. Not only does it help you to understand your goals, but it’ll help you feel better about working towards developing discipline. Work doesn’t feel like work when it’s bringing you closer to something that you’re passionate about.
4. Practice self-control
Work on replacing some bad habits with new, healthier ones. This might be difficult at first, but it’ll be worth it in the long-run - not only because you’ll replace your unhealthy habits with good ones, but because it’ll train your self-discipline.
Remember to take it one step at a time. Old habits die hard, but they can certainly be broken.
5. Eat healthy
One of the best things that a person can do to contribute to their personal discipline is to make sure that they follow a healthy diet plan. There are a few reasons that this is useful.
- Low blood sugar can weaken a person’s resolve, as well as making you irritable and unmotivated.
- Restraining yourself from eating foods you crave and replacing them with foods that you know are good for you is a great way to train your discipline, and soon enough you’ll be feeling healthier and happier.
6. Stay rested
Fatigue is one of the greatest detriments to someone who’s trying to develop their discipline. Sleep deprivation prevents your brain from working well, so it’s important that you make sure to get at least eight hours a night.
Following a bedtime routine every night is also a great way to develop discipline - especially when you’re faced with things you’d like to accomplish once it’s past your bedtime!
7. Prepare a plan B
Make sure you have a plan B in case you encounter a difficult situation when you’re training your discipline - which you almost assuredly will. This will help you prepare for unfortunate circumstances, ‘relapses’ of bad habits or thoughts, and will help you ease into these situations easier.
Having a backup plan makes it easier on you because you know if you encounter something you’re not able to overcome, you’re as prepared as you can be. You can also relax because you won't be beating yourself up afterwards.
8. Don’t make spontaneous decisions
One thing that’s important when training your discipline is to make sure you evaluate any of the choices that you make before you make them. Don’t act impulsively on emotions because you won’t be able to fully understand the scope of the choice that you’re making until you acknowledge the emotions, move on from it, and analyze things in an objective manner.
9. Keep making progress
Discipline training is a long-term process and you can’t expect to simply wake up with great self-discipline one day. The practice requires great patience, forgiveness and acceptance. There will be mistakes, and there will be certain obstacles that you have a hard time overcoming.
These things will only become a detriment if you let them, though. Remember to look towards the future, and always be proud of the progress that you have made.
10. Reward yourself
If there’s one great way to motivate yourself, it’s to allow yourself to have a reward or a treat when you accomplish a goal. Of course, don’t let your rewards be contrary to the discipline that you’re trying to learn.
For example, if you’ve succeeded in replacing unhealthy food with healthy food for a week or two, reward yourself by going out to a nice healthy restaurant. Keep the rewards in line with what you’re trying to accomplish.
11. Use visual cues
Using visual cues as reminders has been scientifically shown to be of great benefit for people who are trying to accomplish tasks or develop things. There are all sorts of places you can leave visual cues, such as sticky notes - generally places that you see everyday, multiple times:
12. Avoid undisciplined people
Discipline begets discipline. The opposite is true, as well. Studies have shown that choosing to surround yourself with people who have their own discipline will encourage you to improve your own discipline and will help you prevent yourself from making unhealthy decisions.
Conversely, hanging out with people who lack self-discipline can be detrimental to your own progress. They will not form a support group that’s nearly effective and you’ll find yourself having a hard time maintaining discipline around them.
One great way to motivate yourself is to use positive visualization. Imagine the benefits that you’ll receive from developing discipline and think of them as if they’ve already happened. Write down everything that you can expect to see as a result, and you’ll be able to notice these changes much easier.
Keep your eyes set on your goals and make sure to imagine yourself as a well-disciplined person. Never think, “I need to be more disciplined.” Instead, think, “I have become more disciplined.”