Thursday, 9 April 2015

Just Do It! The Fool’s Guide to Self Discipline

People always tell me that I’m so disciplined or that they wish they had my sense of discipline.  I found it praiseworthy at first, but then it started to irk me.  The same people who were telling me these things had such low confidence in their own self discipline (or lack thereof) that I found it hard to believe.

Alongside those “wonderful” comments is the question, “How do you do it?”  Believe me, it’s taken me years to motivate myself to get things done, even things that I don’t enjoy doing.  But I can tell you that if you’re really determined about developing self discipline, you’ve got to have a LOT of determination.  Low self esteem will get you nowhere.

1.  Attitude

The first thing that’s got to change is your attitude towards discipline.  Anyone can develop it.  It may be hard, but it’s not that trivial.  Your attitude determines how you’ll react to situations.  If you dread going for a jog, you’ll look for every excuse not to go.  If you’re determined to get fit, you’ll get out there no matter what the weather is like.

You seeing a trend here?  Positivity:  it’s the key to proper self discipline.  In any task you want to do, seeing the positive in the outcome will motivate you to go through with it.

Thinking, “Eh, I’ll start that healthy eating plan tomorrow,” or “Well, it’s raining cats and dogs; I’ll get out for a jog if the weather lets up,” will get you nowhere.  Most of the time, your excuses are nothing short of ridiculous.  On the other hand, saying, “Nope.  I made a decision to only have sweets on Sunday” is the way to go.

That leads me onto the next point.

2.  Commit Yourself to the Task

Having self discipline in a certain area is more than just an idea; it’s a follow through.  When you start something, you have to see it to its end.  If you only have ideas, but never follow through with them, you’ll get nowhere.  You have to be committed.

Think of it as getting married.  When you say I do and put those rings on each others’ fingers, you’re saying that you are committed and completely devoted to your spouse.  Now if you’re a Kardashian, you might make all these lavish plans and get off to a smashing start.  But then part way through, you give up and quit.  Don’t pull a Kardashian!

Don’t compromise.  Stay committed and follow through.

3.  Make a Routine That Works

I’ve read a lot of articles on when’s the best time to work out, when you’re most productive in a day, and how often you should eat.  But here’s the thing:  not everyone has a schedule that caters to waking up for a workout in the morning, using your first two to three hours of the day to get stuff done, or eat at certain times.

What does work is making time in your schedule and seeing what works where.  Try different things at different times to find out what works for you.  It’s different for everybody.

To get the point across, here’s an example.  I tuned in to an interview with Tor Refsland last week about being more productive, and he says to never check your email in the morning.  However, checking my email and messages in the morning helps wake me up.  I’m a slow waker, so I spend fifteen minutes, no more, reading new emails, deleting junk mail and making a few comments before starting my day.  It gets my brain working fast in the morning and ready to go.

If I don’t check my phone in the morning, my mind either wanders back into dreamland or I get so lazy that I don’t get out of bed on time.  I give myself a time limit and keep to it.  No compromising, remember?

I’ll give you another example.  Because I wake up slow, I have a hard time getting up early for a workout or to do writing.  I find that my best jogs and my biggest inspiration hit time is after work and in the evening, respectively.

The thing is to make a routine and be consistent with it.  That requires planning out your day or week and sticking to it until it becomes a habit.  Self discipline goes hand in hand with making something a habit.

4.  Go By What You Think, Not By How You Feel

This is absolutely crucial to self discipline, just as much as attitude.  In a recent article I read at, “self discipline involves acting according to what you think instead of how you feel in the moment.”

The thing about emotions is that they come and go.  If you go by how you feel all the time, you’ll never get anything done.  This is especially true for getting out of debt because a lot of times, people tend to buy things on impulse instead of really thinking about the real benefit it has for them.  Pretty soon, the credit card’s jacked up and you’re swimming in more debt than you started with.  True, there are times when acting on impulse is important, but that doesn’t include 24/7.  More like 0.01/7.  So get it straight that your feelings will get you nowhere.

Your willpower, however, is much more long-suffering.  It can outlast a feeling any day.  Willpower depends on a decision and following through with that decision.  Therefore, self discipline requires that you make a plan and stick to that plan.  You can’t omit the second part of that statement or else you’ve lost the essence of self discipline.

Of course, it’s not easy.  Who ever said it was?  BUT it’s not impossible.  Every single person has the ability to discipline themselves for their own betterment.  That includes you.  So get to it!  If you have an area in your life that you want to see change—whether it’s exercising, eating healthy, or getting out of debt as quick as you can—go make it work.  I know you can do it!

When you DO do it, be sure to report back here!  I’d love to hear about your progress reports, triumphs, challenges, the whole works.  What works for you and how do you keep on top of things?  Let me know in the comments, and thanks for the dropping by.

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