We all believe we could use at least a little more self-discipline. It can mean the difference between the success and failure of a diet. Self-discipline allows us to pick up that guitar and put in two hours of practice each day.
Those with great self-discipline can rely less on talent and luck. They create their own talent and luck. Developing self-discipline is like building a muscle. If you have very little today, you’re not going to have a lot next week. But that doesn’t mean you can’t develop a tremendous amount over time!
Apply these 6 keys for greater self-discipline:
1. Do tasks immediately. We all tend to put things off until we feel like doing them. That is exactly the opposite of self-discipline. The idea of self-discipline is doing what needs to be done, in spite of whether you feel like it or not.
2. Start small. If your level of self-control is low, it’s almost impossible to improve it dramatically overnight. Start with something small.
- Perhaps you could start with brushing and flossing twice a day, every single day. Instead of starting an exercise routine of 90 minutes per day, start with 15 minutes.
3. Carry a task to completion. Most of us will stop an unpleasant task just before completion. We’ll wash all the dishes, except for that big, greasy frying pan. We mow the grass, but we’ll save the trimming for another day. We clean 90% of the garage, but that last 10 % gets put off until next weekend, and then the next, and so on.
- As a point of personal honor, consider completing all tasks. Get in the habit of finishing what you start. When you start a task that you should be able to complete within a day, finish it. You’ll discover that attitude will carry over to a lot of other areas of your life.
4. Learn to work through negative feelings. Negative feelings are what really stop us. We think about doing something and get that nauseating feeling in the pit of our stomach. But these feelings don’t have to stop you from taking action. Just acknowledge the discomfort and act anyway. In time, it will go away.
5. Create artificial time pressure. Set a deadline for yourself and use it to your advantage. Along the same lines, a simple timer can be handy to keep you on track each day. Time pressure is very effective at helping many people to focus.
6. Use your breaks wisely. While it can vary from person to person, for most people, studies have shown that a 10-minute break every hour can improve productivity.
- Get up and get a drink of water. Make a short phone call. Avoid getting distracted by something really enjoyable.
- That video game can easily stretch into 30 minutes or more. Watching YouTube videos can lead to the same result. Your break should be a break, but it shouldn’t be entertainment. Avoid letting your breaks distract you from the work at hand.
Self-discipline is an infinitely valuable quality that you can use to great advantage.
In most cases, you know what you need to do to be successful. The challenge lies in getting yourself to do what needs to be done. Work on increasing your self-discipline and enrich every aspect of your life.