“Without self- discipline, success is impossible, period.” – Lou Holtz
Making a decision to change your eating habits, start an exercise program or learn a foreign language is great, but is only the first step in a long journey.
More often than not, a lot of people fail after a short time. While others, seemingly against the odds, gradually improve over time, and stick with their initial plans. An even smaller number of these people will go on to achieve their original goal.
Why? Because motivation is a great thing to have, but without the self- discipline required, habits do not get formed, and behaviour doesn’t change.
Developing self- discipline is like any other skill, with practice it can be sharpened and take less effort for you to use it. It will also flow into other areas of your life, you might start by being more self- disciplined with your diet, but your fitness, work life and organisation of everyday tasks will improve as well. Vice versa, a lack of self- discipline can cause negativity in your life as well, poor health, financial issues, clutter and a disorganised house, the list goes on.
There are numerous ways to develop self discipline, here are five simple and easy steps you can take to do so.
Know your motivation and set goals.
“Motivation is what gets you started, habit is what keeps you going.” – Jim Ryun.
A goal is the first step in a long journey, and, the most critical. Setting goals gives you long term vision and short term motivation (Habit is what gets you the goal in the end, but more on that later).
What is your motivation to achieve this goal? Why is it important to you? Taking the time to think about these questions and formulate answers for yourself will help you set a clearer path.
By setting clear defined goals you can track and take pride in your achievements, which will in turn create more motivation.
An excellent method for goal setting and maintaining motivation is the SMART method.
Make sure your goal is:
Taking small actions will help make seemingly overwhelming tasks easier. It can be as simple as setting a timer for 5 minutes and being focused on that task for that amount of time.
Want to start running? Start with 5 minutes. Need to clean up a messy room? Set the timer.
Over time you can increase the amount of time you allot to these tasks, and you can also break down larger tasks into smaller chunks, making them easier to achieve.
Action is the key, any action, no matter how small is infinitely better than none at all.
Challenge your own excuses
It is very easy to make excuses to yourself, and we often do this to get out of situations that are difficult or unpleasant. Everyone has done this at some point in their lives, no matter how much self-discipline you have!
When you really look harder at your excuses you can see that it is actually yourself who is holding you back from achieving goals most of the time. So, challenge yourself.
“I’m too busy to prepare food, so I don’t eat healthily” – Make time once a week to meal prep larger batches of food and freeze it.
“I’m always tired because I don’t get to bed early” – How important is that TV Show you are binge watching? You can always keep that next episode for tomorrow. Prioritise what is truly important.
“I can’t do Pull-ups because I’m not strong enough” – Start small by spending five minutes less on social media each day and use that time to start building up your upper body strength doing Push-ups.
A simple shift in mindset will help you develop the self discipline to overcome your own excuses.
A method used by Special Forces teams across the globe to prepare, evaluate and improve in training and on operations is Plan-Do-Review-Improve.
It is also an excellent method to use to develop self-discipline and create habits.
To begin with, write down three tasks into your to do list on your phone. You have to complete these tasks in priority order, so put the most important task first. This is the “Plan” stage.
Throughout the day, as you complete tasks, don’t erase them from your list, instead, write DONE or COMPLETE in capital letters next to them. This is the “Do” stage.
At the end of the day, sit down and look at your list, what tasks were completed? How did you complete them? Is there any way that you could complete them faster or more efficiently? This is the “Review and Improve” stage.
If there were any tasks that weren’t completed, they are then carried over to the next days list as the number one priority.
You will be amazed how many tasks you get completed each day using this method. It also has the added effect of creating a positive feedback loop with each task that you get completed and write DONE next to.
Punch the clock
Some days you will wake up feeling amazing and getting into the gym will feel effortless. Other days, that snooze button will be hit multiple times and you will feel like even if you do train, it will be half hearted and not worth it.
It is worth it.
Punching the clock means sticking to your plan and keeping the habit. Building self- discipline isn’t about only every completing tasks toward your goal when things are perfect, its actually showing up each day and doing what you can.
Self-discipline is like any other skill, it doesn’t just happen overnight, you need to work on it daily for it to become a habit. You don’t need to become an expert today, but by implementing some of these five methods you will be able to take small steps towards taking more control over your self-discipline and achieving any goal you set yourself.
Would you like to learn more about how to develop your own self-discipline, or is there a specific goal that you have set yourself? Get in contact with one of our coaches for a No Sweat Intro and find out how we can help you!