You are as self-disciplined as you have learned how to be.
Do you find this thought discouraging? Think about it. As a child, you might have been given an allowance or a few dollars at your birthday or on holiday. When you’re very young, the first thing you do is buy something intensely satisfying right now, which is good in the short-term. But eventually, you see something you want that’s out of reach. You realize the only way to get this object is to save up over a period of time. Maybe your goal will require several allowances. Perhaps you get a neighborhood job such as babysitting to pay for that item. The moment you do, you’ve learned the joy of working for a long-term goal. You’ve also mastered self-discipline.
At some point, nearly everyone has learned this lesson, some more than others. You realize you need to show up at work on time if you want to keep your job. You want to get paid, so you show up when you’re supposed to. You find out paying the bills keeps the lights on, another long-term goal. You do what you need to make that happen. In both these examples, you use self-discipline without thinking about it at all.
The problems begin when you start feeling like willpower has limits. You’re good at some things, but not at others. Getting to work is one thing, working out at the gym every day another. The good news? You can learn how to increase your self-discipline. What’s even better, the more you practice these techniques, the more self-discipline you’ll have.
Try these three quick techniques:
1. Set Yourself Up for Success
Pick three things to get done tomorrow, no matter what. By setting up the goal and then carrying it out, you’ll already be practicing self-discipline, especially if you have to combat various distractions to do it.
2. Create a New Habit
Studies have shown it can take anywhere from 10 days to 2 months to create a habit. Pick something small to change in your daily life of benefit to you somehow. Practice that habit for the next thirty days (or until you feel like it has become automatic).
3. Make Promises…then Keep Them
When you keep a promise, you’re practicing self-discipline whether you realize it or not. Get in the habit of always keeping your promises. Ask for others to hold you accountable if you struggle with this.
There are some great blogs and podcasts out there, not to mention excellent books, on the topic. Keep yourself inspired by adding a dose of added learning to your day.
By being mindful of what you do, you’ll find your self-discipline skills grow almost without you realizing it. Soon you’ll find it easier to do what you want, while at the same time ignoring the distractions that would derail you.