Top 7 Ways to Become a Master of Self-Discipline

How often have you waited until the first of the week, month, or even year to declare that you are making far-reaching changes in your life, only to fall back into old, familiar patterns a short time later? If the answer is “often”, you are not alone. Otherwise, New Year’s resolutions would not be such a big deal. The good news is that you can get off this tiresome roller coaster of ups and downs and stand on the solid ground of steady progress. All you need is self-discipline. In this article you will learn exactly how.

1- Start with Why

You may think self-discipline starts with to-do lists, apps, calendars and planners, but that’s not the first thing you need. The first thing you need to master self-discipline is to know why you have chosen your goals. The thing is that superficial reasons are often not strong enough to keep it up. You need to identify the deep, emotional causes that resonate in a meaningful way.

For example, if you lose weight just to get slimmer, it’s probably not strong enough to keep you on a diet or in the gym every day. However, when you think about the more significant result of losing weight, the attraction becomes stronger. Is the goal of weight loss to have more self-confidence? To have more energy to spend with your children? Do you want to live longer and eliminate or avoid diseases?

2- Delay gratification (but lock it in)

Second, one of the more significant concepts behind self-discipline is that you increase your ability to postpone gratification. By weighing conflicting options, you sacrifice short-term benefits for long-term gains. The best way to build self-discipline is to delay satisfaction, but make sure you plan something pleasant in the short term.

For example, if you’re trying to lose weight and you need to decide what to eat, you can compromise by following your diet plan correctly throughout the week and taking a break at the weekend or planning to eat a cheat meal. Or you can treat yourself to some of the foods you like and allow that you prepare them yourself with lighter, healthier ingredients. The key is to make decisions that lead to long-term benefits without completely compromising your quality of life in the short term. In this way, you make sustainable changes that you can stick to.

3- Reduce your options

The third method of mastering self-discipline is to simplify your life by limiting your options. Many successful people in the media, such as Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerburg, are known for doing this with their wardrobe – they wear the same kind of clothes every day, eliminating the confusion about what to wear. They can do the same with their diet by filling their fridge and cupboards only with healthy food. Eliminate the temptation to deviate from the plan. When you sit down to work, clean your workplace of everything you do not need to finish your work. Provide only the essentials.

4- Visualize the process

Another method that helps build self-discipline is to visualize the steps you will take to achieve your goals. If you tend to struggle with getting up early, for example to go to the gym before you fall asleep at night, imagine how you will approach the morning. Imagine waking up exactly when your alarm clock rings, getting dressed and going straight to the gym. Imagine the exact workout you’re going to do from start to finish, and imagine how you feel complete, knowing you’ve made the best decision and got a great start to the day.

5- Meet your basic needs

It is much easier to acquire new habits and exercise self-control when you are well nourished, rested, hydrated, relaxed and comfortable in your physical environment. Therefore, make sure that you meet your basic needs for healthy food, shelter, sufficient water and rest before you set out on big goals.

6- Change your language

Next, the way you talk about your goals and priorities can make a big difference in your approach. For example, when you start a new company, not every aspect will be exciting and motivating. Some things will feel boring, dull and even downright frustrating. Exercising self-discipline and self-control means pushing through the unpleasant aspects in order to achieve the final goal. One trick you can use here is to change the way you discuss these aspects. For example, if you are dreading a presentation or project at work or school, you have two options. You can complain about how terrible the work is and hesitate. Or you can describe how lucky you are to be in your position.

When it comes to school, you can think about how lucky you are to have the chance to advance your education. If it’s for work, you can think about how you can make the most of your knowledge or skills and how great it is to have a regular salary that will pay your bills and give you some security in your life.

7- Shift your identity

Finally, your self-discipline will improve considerably if you think about the ultimate goal and align your identity with the type of person who has achieved what you are striving for. For example, if you want to improve your physical fitness, think about the actions of the physically fit person. Realign your identity and describe yourself as the type of person who cooks healthily and enjoys physical exercise.

If you want to have a successful business, examine the characteristics of successful business people. Adopt some of these traits when describing your identity. Perhaps you have read that the most successful people are early risers. You too can change your self-perception by becoming an early riser. Identify yourself as the type of person who wakes up early to work on their business every day.

Concluding thoughts

Self-discipline is a combination of identifying your goals and rethinking to prioritize the decisions that, despite your feelings, will move you forward on the path to achieving those goals. However, self-discipline is not something you can master overnight. Like every muscle in your body, self-discipline takes time to build. With practice and effort you can improve, grow and become the best possible version of yourself.

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