Self-discipline is widely recognized as a necessity for accomplishing anything worthwhile in life. You even need self-discipline to improve your self-discipline. What’s a person to do? And what exactly is self-discipline?
Self-discipline is the ability to exhibit a behavior that may not be enjoyable at that time, without any outside compulsion to do it.
So you would be able to get yourself to clean out the attic, even though you’d rather be fed grapes and imported cheese while sipping a cool beverage and lying on a silk-covered chaise with luxurious feather-filled upholstery. And you would do it even though you really don’t have to do it right then. You can motivate yourself to take action and get it done simply because it needs to be done. That sounds like a great trait, doesn’t it? Who wouldn’t want that?
Try these ways to develop and increase your self-discipline so that you can enjoy greater achievement in your life:
- It’s important to keep your focus, like a Zen master. Why do monks have so much discipline? Part of the reason is they’re great at staying focused on the task and keeping that inner voice that screams distracting thoughts quiet. They simply do the work and don’t think about how much they don’t like doing it.
- Recognize that you have control over your actions. You have free will; you can do as you please. So, you can choose to take part in an activity that needs to be done, even if you don’t like doing it.
- Keep the result in mind before you get started. If you’re focused on the results, it’s easier to get started. It’s usually a lot easier to maintain working on a task than it is to begin. Focus on the benefits and the beginning will come a bit easier.
- Do your task when distractions are at a minimum. Buddhist monks are a good example. They can’t touch money; they can’t even shake hands with a woman; they may only own a couple of robes, a bowl, and a spoon. They aren’t even allowed to prepare or store food. The primary reason is to eliminate all distractions.
If you stop allowing yourself to worry about money, relationships, possessions, clothing, or food – even just for a defined period of time like a couple of hours – your mind is free to focus on whatever you choose. Try to plan your tasks when you’re less likely to be distracted by other more interesting or enjoyable activities, or when your resolve to complete the necessary task is at it’s strongest.
- Eliminate the stuff from your life that isn’t meaningful to you. These things take away from the quality of your life and your focus and serve as distractions from the things that are more important to you.
Self-discipline is like anything else; with practice, it becomes a positive habit. Self-discipline is developed one decision at time. So when you make every opportunity to experience self-discipline count, it gets a little easier each time.
Practice every day. Take smaller tasks, like washing the dishes or folding laundry, and see how well you can complete them without being distracted. See how many negative thoughts pop into your head, and use affirmations like “I will complete this task quickly and efficiently,” or “I am focused on achievement and completing this task” to help refocus your thoughts and energy if needed.
Most importantly, acknowledge the times you are successful and show self-discipline. Any behavior that is rewarded is more likely to appear again in the future
Imagine how your life and your attitude would be if you could accomplish your task list without procrastinating. People we consider highly successful have simply been able to focus and get themselves to do things the rest of us don’t like to do. Self-discipline is the key ingredient to reaching a high level of success in your life.