Successful people have been saying it for decades, and boss guides, work guides and manuals for success preach non-stop about it: the key to achieving success is mastering self-discipline. Other great minds have said similar things, such as “genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration” or “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard”. Essentially, what it takes to achieve those goals you’ve set is to learn how to be disciplined to work hard. Without other people reminding you or forcing you into it.
My younger brother was asking me for advice when it comes to getting work done since the majority of his time is split between school and Waterpolo and the remainder he would prefer to spend relaxing. Eventually, he realised that the real problem is he hasn’t yet developed strong self-discipline. Let me be upfront, it’s not an easy habit to master. Especially if you aren’t naturally inclined that way. Unfortunately, it’s an essential skill to develop because it can help you achieve so much in life. Also, there’s not always going to be someone reminding you or chasing you to work – you need to have that drive on your own. So today, for my little brother and everyone else who feels they want to up their self-discipline game, here are some tips and habits that can help you become a hard-working master of self-discipline!
Much like how Rome wasn’t built in a day, no one is going to transform from a couch-potato to Type A overnight. The key to making any kind of significant lifestyle change is to build it up gradually, so it sticks. If you try to do too much too quickly, it is far harder to maintain, and there is more chance that you’ll give up. Start with small things that are easy to incorporate into your daily routine. Maybe start by making your bed every day, not taking a break until you’ve finished a task, doing the dishes straight away or not going to bed until you’ve tidied up your room. These small habits are easy lifestyle changes to start with, which make them easier to build on and create larger habits in the future.
Consistency is key
This is so essential when you are making any sort of change, and doing things consistently (like an everyday thing) has so many advantages. The first is that it’s something you have to do every day. There are no excuses for leaving it for tomorrow because you have to do it today first. You can’t back out because it’s not something you do every couple of days – it’s an everyday thing! A reason why most New Year’s Resolutions and other goals (such as going to the gym) fail is that people don’t make an effort to do it every single day. So it’s too easy to say you’ll skip today and go tomorrow, and before you know it a month has passed since you went to the gym. Consistency also helps you turn something into a solid habit. Experts say that it takes 30 days to make a habit so consistency will help make this self-discipline venture a habit that doesn’t fall apart.
Set yourself up for success
Self-sabotage is such a killer of al good habits, especially self-discipline. And the truth is, we all know that we’re sabotaging ourselves. You know you have work to do but continue to relax and watch tv. You know that you’re going to feel sluggish when you don’t drink enough water and eat junk for lunch, but you still do it. We continuously seek these comforts when we know better, but we wouldn’t as much if we set ourselves up for success. Eat in a way that makes your body feel good, drink enough water and get enough sleep. If you treat your body right, then you won’t seek those comforts. Also, set yourself up for success by doing work first. Relaxing will feel so much better when you don’t have work or deadlines hanging over you.
Get rid of distractions
I had a friend who couldn’t work without watching a movie in the background. My brother needs music to concentrate. Another friend turned off her phone before putting it in a drawer or backpack. Now I thought that turning it off was a little extreme that she had to turn her phone off whenever she was busy rather than merely putting it away. But then I tested it out. I got so much more work done when my phone was off and away, rather than just away because I had completely gotten rid of the distraction. Even if my phone is in a drawer, but on, the distraction is still there because I can hear it buzzing and know that it will just take two seconds to check. One of the crucial things to instilling self-discipline is to get rid of all distractions so that nothing can tear your focus away from your work. Save movies, series, music and social media for when your work is done. That way, all of your attention can be on the tasks at hand (which means you’ll get them done faster and better) and you can enjoy your downtime more.
Think about the journey
There’s nothing wrong with focusing on the finish line – please don’t get me wrong there. I’ve always been a big believer in having a goal in mind when doing work. However, when it comes to something like forming a habit like self-discipline, it is counterproductive to only focus on a single goal. Instead, think about the journey.
What I mean by this is to look at all the ways self-discipline improves your life every day, rather than focusing on how it can help you complete a single task. Point out how much better you feel having finished something you’d put off, or knowing your entire to-do list is complete before the weekend. Or, how much more satisfying your free time is knowing all your work is finished, and nothing is hanging over you. This way, you’ll have a greater appreciation for self-discipline because it has clear benefits daily.
Rewards and consequences
This is such a common practice because of how well it works. I had a discussion with my dad about this, and he pointed something out that really struck me – humans only work off incentive. Either an incentive to do something or a disincentive to not do something. And how true is that?? It works wonders on teaching and disciplining kids, and a good reward system can be just as beneficial to adults. The trick with it all though is to be strict and disciplined (haha) with the rewards and consequences. It may sound silly, but by sticking to the system rather than cheating it, you will create a cycle that keeps you motivated to make changes until the habit sets in. The rewards or consequences don’t have to have a monetary value. For me, a reward is enjoying a long bubble bath or getting to sit back on my bed with a book and a cup of tea. As a consequence, I sometimes do double (for exercise) the next day or refuse myself breaks/that piece of chocolate I’ve been looking forward to.
Be weird and unique about it
You’re here because you want to make a change, right?? This is about making a positive change to your life and creating an invaluable habit so … who cares if your methods are a bit weird? You know what works best for you so be unique about the aspects you can control. For example, if you say you need to complete a certain number of goals to do some fun plan for the weekend, then do that! This is not about deprivation or punishment but instead trying to change your mindset so that you take things seriously and get stuff done. Don’t worry about what other people think, and don’t worry about what they say or their opinions. You are actively working towards being a better version of yourself and as such, can go towards it in the manner you think is best. As Dr Seuss said, “those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind”.
Write it down! Plan it out!
If there’s anything I want you to take away from today’s post, it’s that “damn she really wants me to write things down and plan things out”. Write down your routine, write down your housework, your goals for the week and your daily to-do list. Write down your healthy intentions and even what you plan to eat. If paper and pen isn’t something you’re fond of, there are soooo many apps that you can use. At the end of the day though, WRITE IT DOWN! It doesn’t matter where and I don’t care how just write it down. Solidify your intentions by turning them into plans. Announce to your subconscious that you are taking this seriously. Get to a point where you enjoy the feeling of ticking something off your to-do list. Once the list is created, you can visually monitor your progress and keep yourself on track. There are so many occasions when I’ve stayed up late or pushed myself to finish something even when I didn’t want to just because it was in my plan. There are many great planners you can buy, but my personal favourites at the moment are from Typo! I promise you that writing things down, making a plan and keeping track really helps.
Help yourself remember
My little brother told me that he really struggles to remember unless someone else helps him. Unfortunately getting someone else to serve as your reminder is only going to create a habit where you are reliant on them. Instead, turn yourself into an external influence to help yourself remember. Put reminders on your devices to get things done. Make copies of your to-do list in multiple places. Make your goals big and visual so you can never escape them and always see them. Heck, you can even cover your bedroom in post-it notes so that you are constantly reminding yourself to build that internal discipline and get your work done without someone else guiding you. It has always helped me to put writing and reminders everywhere, so that way, I can see them no matter where I go. Try it out and see if it helps.
Celebrate your victory
This is always the fun part – getting to celebrate when you start getting things right and achieving what you set out to accomplish. When you notice positive things that are a result of something you did or changed, it is the best feeling in the world. No exaggeration. Celebrating your success is a big part of keeping your new habits secure because you have worked so hard to achieve these things and deserve to be overjoyed with your accomplishments. These are big changes you’re doing that can make a significant difference in your life – and that deserves a celebration so remember to congratulate yourselves as you accomplish your mastery of self-discipline.
And so there you have it! Creating a habit such as this doesn’t happen overnight, and it requires constant work to make sure it stays a habit, but it is so worth it when you accomplish it. I hope that this blog has been helpful to anyone looking to build this habit, or anyone looking for inspiration when it comes to becoming more self-disciplined. From you though, are there any tips I missed out?? What have your journeys towards self-discipline been like? Please let me know in the comments section below! As always, thank you all so much for reading. Don’t forget to hit that little like button if you enjoyed the post and subscribe so you can join the community and not miss out on future blog posts! I know you will all succeed in your ventures for self-discipline because you’ve already taken the first step. Reading this post 🙂
Lots of Love
Blondey on a Mission xxx