How to Build Self Discipline In 12 Steps

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    I’ll show you how to build self discipline!

    Self Discipline outranks IQ when it comes to predicting a student’s academic performance. That’s according to a research article published in 2012 by the Association for Psychological Science.

    The study looked at two sets of eighth-graders.

    Towards the beginning of the school year, in the autumn, the students were tested for both IQ and self-discipline traits. At the end of the school year, the researchers gather information on the student’s GPAs, achievement test scores, and other factors.

    By comparing the results from both sets of tests, the study concluded that more self-disciplined students had higher GPAs and achievement test scores.

    They also watched less TV, attended school at higher rates, and started their homework earlier than their less self-disciplined counterparts.

    Learning how to build self discipline plays a significant role in whether a person achieves success or not. As Jim Rohn said, “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.”

    "Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment."

    I can’t say I’ve always been the most self-disciplined person. I would often put off things for as long as possible, hoping they would just go away.

    Of course, that didn’t do me any good. In fact, it got me in trouble more often than not.

    A few years ago, due to my lack of self-discipline, I missed a critical deadline at work and got severely reprimanded by my boss. It wasn’t pleasant. It was actually very embarrassing.

    I decided that something had to change. I had to discover how to build self discipline into my daily routine.

    That’s when I discovered a very powerful system that helped me turn things around. It’s something I want to share with you.

    What Do You Mean By Self Discipline?

    Self-discipline means having staying power and inner strength. It’s critical for dealing with day-to-day living. With it, you won’t achieve your goals and dreams.

    A lot of people think self-discipline is a negative thing. They think it’s something that has to be unpleasant and requires a lot of effort and sacrifice.

    Most of them use phrases like:

    • Restraint

    • Perseverance

    • Finishing what you started

    • Thinking before acting

    • Forgo instant gratification

    • Carrying on even when confronted by obstacles or hardships

    • Endurance

    • Self-control

    It doesn’t have to be that at all. In fact, I’ve found that learning how to build self-discipline can be quite fun and very beneficial.

    How to Build Self Discipline

    According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition for the word self-discipline goes like this: “correction or regulation of oneself for the sake of improvement.”

    It’s that and so much more. Glance through any number of self-help books and you’ll see many other definitions for self-discipline.

    Why Is Self-Discipline Important?

    With a mixture of willpower and self-discipline, you can stop procrastinating. You can become decisive. You won’t be the lazy one lounging in the corner anymore.

    Self-discipline helps you develop skills that make life a lot easier today and tomorrow:

    • Exercise moderation in everything you do

    • Become more tolerant and patient with the people and activities around you

    • Withstand external pressures and influences

    • Invest effort and time into things that are important

    • Take control of your life

    • Define goals and achieve them

    Why Pure Willpower Doesn't Work

    Let’s take a second to address a common misconception.

    Willpower and self-discipline are two different, though related things.

    Willpower is the amount of control a person can use to do something or restrain from doing something. For example, a person shows willpower by choosing not to indulge in a favorite dessert or snack.

    It’s a momentary burst of focused resolve that helps a person power through when things get difficult. The problem, though, is that it is limited and often fleeting.

    You may have avoided the office donuts in the morning, but couldn’t resist that midnight bowl of ice cream.

    You can restrain yourself through the day, but, as you get tired and feel stress, your willpower can vanish.

    • Due to its limited range, pure willpower isn't enough to achieve most goals. In fact, relying on it totally almost ensures you won't achieve what you want to accomplish.

      Self-discipline, with a healthy addition of willpower, is the better choice.

    How To Build Self Discipline

    Let’s look at the methods I found to help improve my self discipline. It’s been a game-changer for me.

    #1 Choose a Goal

    It sounds so simple: “Set a goal.” But, in reality, setting a goal can be a challenge for some. They have a general idea of what they want to go. But, that’s not necessarily a goal.

    A goal is something that you want to accomplish.

    It can be financial, like earning over $250,000 per year. Or it might be health-related like eating low carb to manage blood glucose. Or it could be relationship-oriented like getting married by the end of the year.

    1. Decide what you want to accomplish.
    2. Write it down.
    3. Be very specific.
    4. Decide how you will know when the goal is accomplished.
    5. Determine the time frame for when you want to complete the goal.
    6. Make sure the goal is achievable.
    7. Ensure the goal is relevant and reasonable.
    8. Rewrite the goal with all the details included.

    Losing weight isn’t a solid goal. Losing 25 pounds in the next six months is better. Losing 25 pounds by October 1st with the ultimate goal of weighing 125 pounds is much better.

    #2 Learn to Prioritize

    You can’t do everything at once. That means you have to choose what is most important, what is urgent, and what can wait.

    This is the process of prioritization. You do the most important and urgent tasks first.

    1. Make a list of what tasks you need to get done.
    2. Determine which ones are urgent (need to be done soon) and which ones are important (tasks that move you towards your goal).
    3. Rank the important and urgent tasks by relevancy. If you have something due today, that's an obvious one for the top.
    4. Decide which tasks you need to accomplish today.
    5. Work on one thing at a time.

    #3 Identify Obstacles

    What stands in the way of you accomplishing your goal? Anything that slows you down or prevents you from making progress towards that goal is an obstacle.

    And they can be physical obstacles, mental blocks, emotional pitfalls, or family barriers.

    Find a time to sit down and do an honest assessment.

    1. What physical obstacles exist?
    2. Do you have emotional issues blocking your progress?
    3. Do you need additional training to accomplish your goal?
    4. Is there someone in your life blocking your goal?
    5. Are there mental blocks you need to overcome?

    The final step is to determine how you are going to get around each of the obstacles you identified.

    #4 Create Habits and Rituals

    A habit is something you repeatedly do on a regular basis. Some habits develop unconsciously. Others can be developed consciously.

    Habits can be good or bad. Brushing your teeth is a good habit. Smoking cigarettes is bad.

    The good news is that you can develop good habits and drop bad ones.

    A ritual is a series of actions performed in a certain order. The word ritual is often associated with religious or spiritual practices. However, it can be applied to any set of actions you do consciously.

    Habits and rituals can be very helpful when trying to achieve a goal. Let’s say you want to go to the gym every day before work.

    Some habits you can develop might include getting your clothes ready the night before or leaving the house by 6:00 AM.

    Rituals that could help include a wake-up ritual that gets you ready for the day and out the door to the gym on time.

    What habits and rituals would help you achieve your goal?

    #5 Celebrate Your Small Wins

    Every small step you take towards a goal deserves your attention.

    People often focus on the things they do wrong and forget to acknowledge the things they do right. The opposite should be true.

    1. Take notice. Did you accomplish something you didn't think you would?
    2. Get excited about the small wins. You achieved something important, even if it seems insignificant.
    3. Talk about it with others. Tell your best friend or your spouse.
    4. Use habits to make those wins consistent. Celebrate every day you make that small victory.
    5. Live in the present. It's so easy to worry about the future or ruminate on the past. Focus on the now instead.
    6. Reward yourself. Small wins deserve a celebration. Watch one of your favorite shows or have some ice cream.
    7. Relax. It's too easy to put deadlines on ourselves. Unless it's something you need to accomplish by a certain date, don't pressure yourself just because you miss a deadline.

    #6 Choose Delayed Gratification

    Do you choose the thing that gives instant pleasure? Do you delay the pleasure for greater rewards in the long run? That’s a dilemma people face every day.

    The benefits of delayed gratification are well known.

    It strenghts a person’s impulse control. It teaches the benefit of hard work. People develop more appreciation. It helps a person make healthier decisions. It makes life more enjoyable in the long run.

    1. Start with something so small it's impossible to succeed.
    2. Focus on improving one thing at a time.
    3. Do one thing each day to build consistency.
    4. Make it something you can do in 2 minutes or less.

    #7 See the Big Picture

    It’s very easy to get lost in the details of life. You get up in the morning, go through your daily routine, come home, help the kids with homework, watch TV, and go to bed. And you repeat this routine every day.

    The details of life can obscure the big picture.

    That’s the direction your life is going in.

    Is it the direction you want to go? Are you making conscious efforts to move in a particular direction or are you on automatic pilot?

    1. Take time to think about your current life.
    2. Look for links between the actions you take each day and how it affects your long-term success.
    3. Talk with other people about issues in life. A different perspective can open your eyes.
    4. Think outside the box. Can you find alternative ways to do routine things?

    #8 Be Nice to Yourself

    You need to be your own best friend. Don’t fall into the trap of constantly criticizing your actions, thoughts, or mistakes. Take time to be nice to yourself.

    1. Take time each day to do something you enjoy.
    2. Train your inner voice to stop the negative talk and start with the positive.
    3. Forgive yourself for past mistakes.
    4. Respect yourself. Don't let others devalue you.

    #9 Take Care of Your Body and Mind

    Your physical and mental health are cornerstones for self-discipline.

    If you eat junk food, your body won’t be strong and healthy. If you don’t get enough sleep, you can’t think clearly. When you get stressed out, your mental health suffers.

    It’s important to take care of both your body and mind.

    1. Eat nutritious foods.
    2. Get sufficient sleep.
    3. Exercise regularly.
    4. Use meditation or yoga to de-stress.
    5. Take time to look your best.

    #10 Know Your Weak Points

    Everyone has weak points. These are the parts of life where a person is inadequate or deficient in a certain skill set. Knowing your own weak spots gives you the chance to develop skills and methods to counter them.

    For example, if you procrastinate a lot, you can develop habits and rituals that help get things done in a timely manner.

    1. Ask your friends and family to list your weak points as well your strong points.
    2. Take time to reflect on your actions. Look for areas you need to improve.
    3. Journal. Writing about your thoughts regularly can help identify areas you need to improve in.
    4. Be present in the moment. Mindfulness helps us see where we can improve in life. It also helps identify the areas we are strongest in.

    #11 Have a Backup Plan

    Setbacks are a fact of life. You think everything is going well, then it isn’t.

    Something happens and your goal suddenly becomes unattainable. Or your goal ends up taking longer than you thought. What do you do?

    This is why having a backup plan is critical. Challenges and obstacles are a given in life. Taking time to weigh options and come up with backup plans helps you move towards your goal despite the challenges and obstacles in your path.

    1. Consider multiple options for achieving your goal.
    2. Determine the options that you can use if your primary plan falls through.
    3. Take the time to document these options and figure out how to implement them, before you need to use them.

    Always look for new and better ways to accomplish your goals.

    #12 Make Choices in Advance

    Every choice you make has an impact on your life and your goals.

    When you make an impulsive choice, it’s usually in favor of instant gratification or pleasure. When you make your choices in advance, it’s easier to delay gratification and build self-discipline.

    For example, if you need to study for an upcoming exam, you need to eliminate distractions. Make the choice to turn the phone off. Choose to close your door. Choose to study instead of going to the big party.

    Every choice made in advance makes it easier to face temptation and walk away.

    What Is Better: Discipline or Motivation?

    The answer is discipline. Motivation involves the reasons why you choose to do something. But, it does not move from goal to completion without discipline.

    Motivation, like willpower, can be fleeting. You were motivated to take those classes you need to get your MBA. It means a higher salary and better opportunities for advancement.

    But, trying to keep up on your classes, hold down a full-time job, be a loving spouse, and raise your kids becomes too much. Your motivation starts to diminish as things get tough at home and work.

    That’s when self-discipline becomes critical.

    What Does All of This Mean?

    Motivation gives you the reasons why you need to do something, but it doesn’t give you the actions needed to accomplish your goal. Willpower helps you get through the toughest times, but can only go so far.

    Learning how to build self discipline is the key to moving you from inspiration, through doing, to ultimate achievement. Hopefully, you’ve learned how to build self-discipline so you can achieve your goals.

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