7 Powerful Habits To Build Self-Discipline That Lasts Forever
Is there a goal you want to accomplish, but you just can’t seem to follow through? Maybe you know exactly what you need to do, but just can’t seem to do it? If you want to achieve those lofty goals you set, understanding how to discipline yourself is a key ingredient to the success recipe. Here are 7 powerful habits to help you build your self-discipline that lasts forever!
At the heart of any successful person, is self-discipline.
Whether it’s success in their personal lives or their professional lives, it all starts with an inherent ability for self-control through discipline. Your thoughts. Emotions. Behaviors. And your habits. You must keep them all in check. But self-discipline isn’t something new. In fact, self-discipline has been a topic of discussion for thousands of years. And it’s been championed by some of the world’s most successful people.
Success in life comes from the actions you take on a consistent basis — and only self-discipline allows you to do that.
There are many important qualities that can contribute to a person’s achievements and happiness, but there is only one that begets sustainable, long-term success in all aspects of life: self-discipline. In short, all the knowledge in the world is worth nothing if you don´t possess the self-discipline to use that knowledge.
Without motivation, it’s hard to get started on anything. But when you can’t rely on motivation, you need to turn to self-discipline.
Self-discipline and consistency are so important, yet they’re so difficult to achieve. Perhaps it’s because we associate them with absolutely zero fun. It may be more fun to watch Netflix, but you need self-discipline to help you get through those moments when you lack motivation. In this post, I’m sharing some mindset shifts to help you realize you can be disciplined, plus seven habits to help you improve your self-discipline even when you’re feeling lazy.
Self-discipline is the driving force behind achieving any goal. And the good news is you can learn willpower.
Anyone can develop self-discipline. It’s a skill and it’s not complicated — you just have to train yourself for it. Today I’m going to share with you powerful habits to build self-discipline and stay on track with your goals, no matter what! Master these key habits of the world’s most disciplined people and you will bring more success into your life and business.
Habit #1: Get Motivated
The first question is, how do you even get motivated to start? Most of us don’t want to think about our lack of discipline, let alone take a bunch of actions. When you list the reasons why you want to achieve something, you’ll find it much easier to get the job done.
Keep your end-goal in mind without allowing yourself to forget where you started.
Constantly remind yourself — especially when it gets hard — how and why you set this goal and what you will have achieved when you’re done. Visualize yourself having taken complete control of your life and accomplishing whatever specific goal you’ve set. Set reminders on your phone to tell yourself how far you’ve come and how proud you are. Affirmations are also a great way to keep your self focused on your why.
Who are you? What are you trying to accomplish in life? If you understand what you are trying to accomplish in life, you have the fuel to be self disciplined.
With a mission, activities that may appear mundane to others become vital stepping-stones for you. An example would be learning French grammar to help you become an European businessperson. To help formulate your mission statement, answer two questions: What are my five biggest wishes? What do I want to accomplish in my life during the next five years?
“Motivation” comes from the root word “motive.”
It’s why you are doing something. The reason and underlying drive behind it. Leadership expert Simon Sinek talks about the power of why. Knowing your “why” provides a compelling intrinsic motivation. It fuels the fire and you’re much likely to stay focused. What is your underlying reason, motivation or purpose to be disciplined?
Ask yourself: what is the outcome you want to achieve?
You have to have a reason for why you are doing this. If you don’t have a specific goal in mind, it’s too easy to give up when the going gets tough. You simply won’t care enough to push through. The desire for your goal must be stronger than the temptation to give up, so think about what you really want — what you really really want.
If your “WHY” is strong enough, you will have the strength to follow through on “WHAT” you need to do to create your desired goal.
If you’re chasing goals that you care little about, you will lose steam in no time. When the effort taken to achieve your target takes a toll on you, you feel like resorting back to the comfort zone. What you consider laziness is actually a lack of interest in achieving the goal itself. The motivation has to come from within you and you have to really care about the outcome — it won’t stick if you’re just trying to fulfill something you think you “should” do.
If you do not intend to achieve a goal strongly enough when you begin, the chances of giving your best effort are quite slim.
Often, we chase goals that appear cool or those that society has made a big deal out of. Buying a house, driving a fancy car, reaching an executive position in a well-known organization are a few examples. Whichever goal you chase, you must know why you want the result you desire. If you do not have a clear purpose, you will lack the self discipline required somewhere down the road.
Habit #2: Remove Temptation
If you want to be more disciplined, you have to get rid of your temptations. Even though snoozing on the couch instead of running is tempting, or that social media app is addicting, keep them out of sight so you can focus on what’s most important.
The greatest struggle many of us face is the almighty battle between two highly competitive players — the ‘Joy of Distraction’ and the ‘Delayed Gratification of Discipline’.
Take ownership and set yourself up for success from the get go. Remove the temptation that you know you will face. If you want to improve your productivity at work, turn off social media notifications. If Netflix is your temptation pack up the TV — I have colleagues that did this! The less distractions you have, the more focused you will be on accomplishing your goals.
If you’re prone to distractions, get them as far away as possible.
My phone is a big temptation for me, so I make sure it’s out of sight when I’m working. If you’re not disciplined when it comes to food, keep temptations out of your pantry. When the temptation is too strong, ask yourself again, “Does this help or hurt my future self?”
Disciplined people are very self-aware. They know their downfalls, therefore they create an environment to win by removing as many distractions as possible.
While you can’t always plan for the unexpected, you can diminish distractions by removing them altogether. James Clear suggested the method of introducing friction for bad habits in his book Atomic Habits. Your mind loves reacting to distractions. The practice of turning on the TV and checking the refrigerator is a sneaky way your brain uses to avoid work. The technique suggests adding an extra step between you and the distraction. By making the distraction harder, your decrease your chances of wasting time.
If you can build your focus muscle, you will be able to take control of your internal distractions all the time.
Internal distractions are one of those problems you can’t really run away from. You need to find ways to prepare your mind for work, and find simple ways to keep it from straying to non-essential thoughts in order to learn how to not get distracted. A good way to prime your mind for work is to have a dedicated work station. If you always work in a specific area, then your mind will associate that area with work-related thoughts.
When you’re distracted, you’re more likely to give in to temptation or get lost in procrastination land.
You lose focus, you lose control, you get affected stronger by emotions, and your behavior becomes a function of impulses and habits. That’s why good habits are so crucial. They work in your favor when your conscious mind loses supremacy. However, in order to develop good habits, concentrated mental power is absolutely required. So as long as you’re in the process of habit development, you must minimize distraction.
Habit #3: Hold Yourself Accountable
Most people take responsibility for their actions only when it suits them or only when they can be proud of their actions. Most people are unwilling to take responsibility for all their actions if the result is not good. The people who take 100% responsibility for everything they do, however, are usually the ones who are highly disciplined; and these are the same people who succeed the most in life.
If you want to achieve your goals, you need to stop complaining and start taking action and responsibility for your actions.
You’ll end up learning about your shortcomings which gives you the opportunity to correct them and improve your overall habits, skills set, and mindset. That way you’ll start living the life you deserve. To take responsibility for all your actions means to take responsibility for your life; to be in charge of all your results no matter their outcome.
If you say you’re going to do something, do it. And if you can’t, have a good reason. That’s the foundation of self-discipline.
But you don’t do things so you can prove something to others. No, you do it for yourself. You hold yourself accountable by writing down your goals, intentions, and actions. No one is watching. Just be yourself. This doesn’t have to be complicated. I write down what I want to do every single day in my journal. Then, at the end of the day, I look at what I actually did. When your actions match your words, you’re on the right track.
An accountability partner is someone you set up a contract with to hold each other accountable for reaching goals.
This is a mutual pact and is probably the easiest to set up. You are less likely to cheat on your goals if someone you admire is watching. Have your hero (or just your BFF) set a goal alongside you. You can cheer each other on. And when the going gets tough, you can be there to give each other that extra push.
Even though you want to be kind to yourself, you also want to make sure that you hold yourself accountable.
That means if you “accidentally” watched three hours of GOT, you should try to make up for that time by working your butt off the following few days. It’s great to establish goals and create an action plan. However, if there is no accountability built into that process, the effort is likely to fail.
How do you make it difficult to give up? Think of a painful punishment and find a tool or person to deliver it in case you lose your resolve.
Usually the best choice is a close friend who’ll keep their promise, as painful as it would be for you, knowing it’s for your own good. If you want to go on a diet but you’re afraid you’ll cheat, pay your friend fifty dollars each time you choose a cake over a healthy meal. I’m sure that no matter how much you love pastries, paying fifty bucks for the pleasure of eating them will quickly teach you to avoid the bakery. It requires honesty on your part to tell your friend when you slip up, but if you lie, you’re only cheating yourself out of becoming a healthier person.
Habit #4: Time Is Gold
When we can properly manage our time, we have room for the stuff that matters. Namely, we have room for the activities that will help us achieve our goals. In order to achieve our long-term goals, we have to perform actions that might not be urgent, but are most certainly important.
Our ability for self-discipline is largely derived from our ability to effectively manage our time.
The prominent time managers of the world are also some of the most successful people in their respective fields. Why? Because they use time as a benefit rather than a detractor. Since we all have the same amount of time in the day, we can’t waste it. It’s the great equalizer.
When you’re clear on your priorities, it makes it easier to avoid decisions you’ll regret later. It also makes it easier to focus on one thing at a time.
For example, if you need to get something done but a friend asks you to hang out, you have to decide whether it’s more beneficial to keep working or take a break for your friend. It’s okay to let go of a rigid schedule and be spontaneous, but clear-set priorities will help if you do this often and keep feeling guilty about it. One way to do this is to ask yourself, “Will this make life easier or harder for myself in the future?”
You may want to create a routine that becomes second nature, automatic, normal.
Athletes, for example, know what hours they train, when to break for lunchtime and dinnertime, and when to rest. In training, they know they have to do a warm-up, main training, and cool-down and recovery. By following the same routine, it becomes second nature — the discipline preps them to win. Planning your own routine — and sticking to it until it becomes automatic — can prep you for success, too and make you time-efficient.
Self-disciplined people are all about making the most of every opportunity they have to pursue their God-given purpose and goals.
Therefore, they are all about using their time wisely. They make sure that the job gets done by intentionally scheduling the most important actions and activities into their week. Doing this increases the likelihood that they will accomplish their tasks because they put systems and routines in place that will guarantee their success. What systems, routines, and schedules do you need to put place to develop discipline?
In order to manage your time effectively, you need discipline. So, the better you manage your time the more disciplined you’ll be.
If you schedule every hour of the day or even every minute of the day, there will be no wondering of what you should do with your free time after you got home from work. Every part of the day will be scheduled, so you’ll always know what you have to do. Once you are managing your time effectively, you’ll be living a conscious and deliberate life; a life that most disciplined people have. You’ll be able to achieve your goals no matter their nature just because you know how to leverage every minute of your day.
Habit #5: Forgive Yourself
Instituting a new way of thinking won’t always go according to plan. You will have ups and downs, fabulous successes, and flat out failures. The key is to keep moving forward. When you have a setback, acknowledge what caused it and move on. It is easy to get wrapped up in guilt, anger, or frustration, but these emotions will not help build improve self discipline.
Change is hard. New habits are hard.
Our minds are wired for familiarity and if you’re doing something new, part of you is going to be fighting against it. You are going to face setbacks and failures. Don’t allow obstacles to cause you to give up on your bigger vision or goal. Unless you’re the most self-disciplined person in the world, you’re going to hit the snooze button and miss a run. You’re going to choose chips over an apple. You’re going to lose your temper instead of keeping your cool. It’s going to happen. You must forgive yourself and move forward.
When we spend a large portion of our days in a state of anger, regret, or guilt, we create more problems than we do solutions.
Hate and anger consumes far more energy than love and forgiveness. When we forgive, we learn to let go of certain things. Without the habit of forgiveness, we couldn’t achieve self-discipline. We’re too worried about how someone wronged us to even focus on discipline or achieving our goals. By forgiving, we let go of negativity that zaps our ability to be self-disciplined. If you want to learn how to discipline yourself, forgiveness is surely one major avenue.
Everyone struggles with admitting they’ve done something bad, but denial is how people get themselves into even deeper trouble.
While it may be more comfortable to believe that we haven’t done anything wrong, it never helps the situation. Ignoring a problem does not make it go away. At some point, you’re going to have to claim your mistakes for what they are: not your proudest moments, but part of your evolution towards becoming a better person.
Don’t expect yourself to perform perfectly every time.
If you hold yourself to an unachievable standard of perfection, you’ll only succeed in making yourself feel inadequate. When you fail, forgive yourself, get up and move forward. Slipping up on your habits doesn’t mean you are a failure — it means you are normal. Successfully improving self-discipline is not based on never making mistakes. It’s all about having the grit and determination to keep persisting and improving over the long term.
Persisting through discomfort is key to self-discipline and there is nothing more uncomfortable than failure.
Even the thought of failure can lead to procrastination and other bad habits. Reframe failure as a learning opportunity and be gentle with yourself. You must keep forward momentum and though you may stumble you will not fall back. Accept that these challenges will be present and acknowledge them when they appear. Your self-discipline is not there to replace mental resistance, your self-discipline is there to manage it when it appears. Be honest with yourself and your abilities.
Habit #6: Follow Through
Of course, no set of discipline habits would be complete without persistence. Persistence is that certain habit that helps us to not give up. Even when we do fail, it allows us to get back up again. Without the habit of persistence, self-discipline would be largely impossible.
Why? Because achieving our goals is hard. Getting discouraged is easy.
And giving up takes far less effort than continuing to push through, especially towards something that inflicts a lot of pain before it provides us with any pleasure. But that’s just what it takes. What we need to do is realize that even the most famous people who succeeded in life have failed many times over. Failure is an important stepping-stone in life. Without failing, and failing big, we couldn’t achieve the lofty goals that we set for ourselves.
You will have good days and bad days, but what matters is that you show up and complete the habit. This is often referred to as “punching the clock.”
If you’ve made a goal to hit the gym every morning before work, there will be some mornings where you feel tired and you won’t have your best workout ever. It’s still incredibly important to follow through and go to the gym on those mornings anyway. It’s not the occasional amazing workout that makes a big difference in your health, it’s the cumulative effect of many workouts over time. Sticking to the habit over the long term is the most important thing.
The great tragedy of life is that most people give up right before achieving success.
They already made it to the five yard line, and all they need is one final push to make the touchdown and bring home the sweet victory. But right before they do that, there is one final obstacle standing in their way — one last failure that they need to overcome. Way too many people give up right then and there, without realizing how close they are.
The hardest part about discipline is maintaining the actions needed to achieve your dream or state of happiness.
It requires constant hard work and fighting against comfort and instant pleasures. To do so, you have to separate yourself from the feelings that stop you, like fatigue, laziness or self-pity. You have to go above them, even if your feelings tell you that you are tired, stressed and alone in this struggle. Discipline is the direct training of a fighter.
Sometimes life can knock you down and during these moments it is important not to let your guard down.
You must move forward regardless of how slow the progress is. Find goals you are passionate about and motives that give you strength to get through the hard times. With a strong will, your actions aligned to realistic goals, and self-discipline, you will overcome and achieve all your dreams. Self-discipline is all about mental fortitude. Are you truly all in? Are you committed to this project, this task, this goal — whatever it may be? If you’re unsure, you’re bound to fail, and you won’t finish what you start when it comes to turning your thoughts into actions.
When you wake up in the morning, do you know what’s most important for you to accomplish that day?
Every goal, every priority, you have set for yourself has to be done — it will determine whether your dream lives or dies. Athletes know if they skip even one training session, they are already behind; they know they will lose a competition that is still three months away if they don’t do what they said they would, if they don’t follow through with their plan — if they aren’t disciplined.
Habit #7: Eat The Frog
Highly disciplined people don’t get caught up and stuck on the big picture. They know how to break down their goals. Deconstructing your goals allows you to see what needs to happen in order for you to achieve them. Break down your goals into action steps that consist of milestones and daily actions that will lead you to accomplish your big picture goals.
To be self-disciplined and achieve our goals, you need to be organized.
Organization is a habit that needs to be wholly embodied, not only in your professional life, but also in your personal life. An organized life is a disciplined life. Start small if you label yourself as completely scattered. Do one small thing a day to improve your organization. That’s all it takes. It’s the little things that we do on a daily basis that have a large impact on the quality of our lives. Pay attention to the small stuff and you’ll reap large benefits.
In addition, don’t forget to eat the frog. The “frog” is the big, daunting item on your to-do list you are avoiding.
If you can face this task first, you’ll tackle it with a clear mind when your willpower and concentration are at their strongest. If you save it for the end of the day, you’ll be tired and more likely to push it onto tomorrow’s to-do list. Place the biggest, hardest and ugliest task at the top of your list. When work begins, take action immediately and don’t do anything else until you’ve swallowed that frog.
Instead of avoiding the hardest assignments, try to complete them first so the rest of your day is easy breezy.
If you have many tasks to accomplish in a day, start with the one you want to avoid [the] most. This will make you gain confidence quickly and help the rest of your day roll down hill easy as pie. If the task is too big, chunk it up. Breaking down big goals into manageable parts help you stay focused and keep [you] from being overwhelmed. A common technique is to use a timer or the Pomodoro technique.
Disciplined people don’t waste their time procrastinating on the things they know that are going to move their life, business, or goals forward.
They don’t put things off until tomorrow or next week. They do the hardest things first. One of the best ways to increase the chances of reaching your goals is to the hardest, most important thing first. Doing so not only gets it out of the way, but it also instills feelings of accomplishment and confidence in you, knowing that you were disciplined and got it done.
That said, highly disciplined people know that planning and dreaming aren’t enough.
At some point, if they want to see those dreams and goals actualized, they must take action. Taking action doesn’t guarantee perfection, but it doesn’t guarantee progress, and progress is better than deferred dreams or worse the lack of trying. As long as you take action, you’re one step closer to achieving your goals.
You’re ambitious. You’re driven. You’re ready to reach your goals. They’ll always be a reason you can’t do something. And there’s always a reason you can. You get to choose.
It’s time to say bon voyage to your less-disciplined life.
You’re the captain of your ship and as long as you’re determined to continue to move forward, you will notice the positive change in your life in no time. While it might take some time to be more disciplined, it’s totally worth it. All you have to do at first is hold yourself accountable, and set smart goals. Trust me, you’re stronger than you think. You got it.
Self-discipline is like a muscle. It doesn’t explode overnight. It grows over time with consistent work.
You don’t need to master your discipline today. All you need to do is begin implementing a single one of the strategies I’ve listed out and take incremental steps toward growing your self discipline “muscle“. It’s up to you to choose the life with discipline or without, with a goal or without, with a dream or without.
Discipline is not a destination. It’s a daily practice.
Without self-discipline, we will revert back to giving up. Because whether you’re aware of it or not, we’re all headed towards chaos. That’s the natural direction of life. That’s why we need self-discipline to fight back. Which means we need to optimize for a marathon — not a sprint.
While teaching yourself to be disciplined is not always easy, it is well worth the effort.
Just imagine how your life would be if each day is well ordered and everything is as it should be — in its right place. You’d be so much happier and able to perform your duties more effectively without stressing out that you’re going to miss something. You’d be so much better. Master discipline and you’ll see your goals and dreams all fall into place.
It only takes one strategy. One step. One change to move forward. You have the power to be more disciplined. You got this.
How disciplined are you really? Are you committed to your goals? Do you push yourself past your limits to take action? Do you put the right systems and structures in place to make sure you’re actually succeeding? Feel free to share with me and my fellow Geeknackers your own journey in the comments below!