This article was last updated on December 30, 2015
Self discipline – it’s hard to spell, and even harder to put into practice! So if you’re short on willpower you may need some help in acquiring the skills to get into new habits. But you shouldn’t fall into despair – self discipline can be learned and practiced. It’s a question of understanding yourself and how to overcome the influences that make you inclined to avoid doing the things you need to do and making the most of yourself. Here are some powerful ways to achieve self discipline and become efficient, organized and awesome.
10 Powerful Ways To Achieve Self Discipline
- Stop making excuses
It’s so easy to make excuses for not getting around to the things you need to do. So when you find yourself coming up with countless reasons for avoiding going to your fitness class, or putting off cleaning the house, stop! Instead of finding reasons for not getting on with things, simply get on with them. You’ll be finished before you know it – and in the case of your fitness class, you’ll feel so much better afterwards that you’ll be really glad you made the effort to go! Read also: Top 10 Excuses You Must Drop To Live A Meaningful Life
- Get rid of distractions
Computers are terrible time-wasters – we think ‘I’ll just check my email … and read the news … oh, and I must see if Lucy’s answered my post on Facebook … check out flights for my vacation … has anyone sent me a Whatsapp message?’ Before you know it, you’ve wasted an hour on things you really don’t need to do, and still not got around to doing all those important things on your to-do list! The answer is simple: those distractions have to go. Switch off the computer and leave your phone in another room. You can always allocate yourself a time slot to check messages – but after you’ve completed the more important tasks. Read also: 5 Benefits of Unplugging from the Internet
- Make a start
How often do you dither about getting started on tasks? Yes, me too. It’s so easy to find reasons not to get started, or just not ‘get around to it’. So here’s a radical suggestion: get on with it! Make a start, and you’ll find that once you’ve got going you’ll carry on. You’ll be done with your tasks before you know it. It’s like a snowball effect; if you don’t start building it, you won’t have a snowball, but if you make a start, your snowball will soon grow.
- Begin with the hardest task
Many procrastinators find that what works for them is beginning with the hardest task on their list. After they’ve got that one out of the way, everything else seems easier. However, if they start with an easier job, they’ve still got the difficult item hanging over them. So try starting with the one you’d most like to put off, and think what a relief it will be when it’s done and dusted! It may also be a lot easier than you thought it would be.
- Adopting new habits takes time
It takes time to train your brain to accept new habits, so don’t expect changes to happen overnight. You won’t suddenly go from being sluggish to self disciplined just like that! Adopting new habits takes time because it uses a different part of the brain than the one that we use for making decisions, and our brain prefers us to carry on as normal. So be aware that you need time to become comfortable with your new, disciplined routine. See also: 3 Powerful Ways To Cultivate Good Habits
- Give yourself an incentive
One reason why most diets fail is that dieters think they have to be totally ascetic and avoid all treats. But depriving yourself of anything pleasurable will make it harder to stick to your diet and mean that you’ll probably fall off the wagon and abandon your diet altogether out of guilt for ‘failing’. But if you allow yourself a few treats, you’re more likely to stick to the diet. And this also holds true in other areas. So give yourself an incentive to work towards, and you’ll find it easier to be more self disciplined.
- Schedule breaks
Beavering away at a task may sound like the best way to finish it, but the likely outcome is that you’ll probably lose interest or get tired long before the end. However keen you are to get something done, allow yourself break time; it will mean that you stay fresh and able to focus. What often works best is to schedule breaks, so that you work for set periods and know when to return to your work. And before you know it, your tasks will be completed.
- Don’t beat yourself up if you slip
Think back to what I said about diets: one slip doesn’t mean that you’ve failed entirely – it just means that you set yourself unrealistic goals. So don’t beat yourself up and think that you’ve failed if you experience a slip on your road to a new, self disciplined way of life. Remember my point about it taking time to train your brain to accept new habits. So if you do slip, it’s normal – just keep working at becoming more disciplined.
- Counteract your excuses
Remember point one about stopping making excuses? You can also try finding arguments against your own excuses. Imagine that you are your boss; what would you say to yourself? If you’re avoiding cleaning the house because you’re ‘too tired’ or you want to go shopping, tell yourself ‘come on – you’re not really that tired!’ or ‘clean the house, and then you can go shopping – and come back to a clean house!’
- Set Yourself Goals
People often laugh at the idea of making lists, but the fact is that it works – because you’re setting out clearly what you want to achieve. If you just have a vague idea in your head of all the things that you should be doing, you’ll either forget about some of them, or avoid getting on with them. So grab a notebook and set yourself goals. What do you want to achieve today, this week, or this year? If you’ve put it all down on paper, you know what you want to work towards – and you’ll really feel a sense of achievement as you tick off each item on your list.
The change in you won’t happen overnight – but put these ideas into practice and you’ll find that over time, your new self disciplined habits are becoming more comfortable. Eventually you’ll find that your old habits are long behind you. You’ll be able to make the most of your time and talents – and won’t it feel wonderful to realize just how much you’re achieving!
Photo credit: See-ming Lee via flickr