If you are struggling to build up your level of self-discipline, it may not be as difficult as you think – provided you start with these 3 simple steps:
Start with willpower
Self-discipline eventually becomes a habit, just like any other activity you do on a regular basis. Until then, however, you are likely faced with the challenge of overcoming your other habits while trying to form new ones.
One good way to get over this hump is by asserting your willpower, consciously and repeatedly. “Willpower” is defined as “energetic determination.” That means making a conscious CHOICE to take a certain action (or to avoid taking certain other actions).
When you find your self-discipline slipping, remind yourself that you have the power to choose what you do or don’t do – by pure force of will. Avoid allowing outside influences to make your choices for you. Turn your attention inward and make a conscious decision about your actions.
Keep the end result in mind
The reason temptation is so seductive is that we get sidetracked by what we stand to gain right now, instead of what we stand to gain at some later time. Telling yourself you prefer a healthy, strong body six months from now may be difficult when you’re staring at a donut dripping with sweet, gooey icing. All you can think about is the pleasure you’ll gain from eating the donut now, rather than the benefits you’ll gain from sticking to your health program.
In order to keep temptation from sabotaging your self-discipline efforts, keep a strong reminder of your ultimate goal with you at all times. This can be a photograph from a magazine, a written description of your dream, or even a written vow to yourself.
When you feel tempted to abandon your goals for a momentary pleasure – stop and ask yourself if it’s really worth it. Take out your reminder and revisit your goal again. If the goal is still vitally important to you, you should have no trouble choosing the right action.
Repetition and reinforcement
Self-discipline is formed one decision at a time! You may think of self-discipline as something you either have or don’t, but it’s not usually that simple. Developing true self-discipline is an ongoing process, not a one-time event.
If you make this insight a part of your long-term plan, you cannot fail! Simply keep making conscious choices for yourself moment to moment, and your self-discipline will be formed as you go along.
In addition, be sure to keep giving yourself positive reinforcement. When you slip up, be sure NOT to beat yourself up over it. Instead, acknowledge that you made a poor choice, and make a better one next time. When you do make a positive choice, shout it from the rooftops! (At least inside your own mind.) Praise yourself and reward yourself for being able to stay aware and faithful to your long-term goal.
The more positive reinforcement you can give yourself, the less painful will be your journey to true self-discipline.