How would you like to have more self-discipline in your life? You might be thinking, sure, that would be nice. The words self-discipline conjure up images of someone working non-stop or someone in the relentless pursuit of a goal.
You might hear yourself or your friends talk about having more self-discipline.
It’ll come in the form of “I need to be more disciplined.” They might say “I need to get back on track.”
We constantly judge ourselves for the things that we didn’t do. How can we move past the self-criticism and move towards self-discipline?
Would you like to know how to build self-discipline to exercise?
Keep reading to learn 5 tips to be more self-disciplined.
Why Does Self-Discipline Matter?
We make thousands of decisions every single day. Most of them, we’re not aware of. The decisions we make become the results we have.
If you want different results, you’re going to have to make different decisions. These typically aren’t big decisions, they’re the small decisions that are on autopilot.
It’s basically self-control.
Studies have shown that one of the biggest predictors of success in school kids isn’t intelligence. It’s self-discipline.
It’s the ability to do the things we really don’t want to do.
How many times have you worked on a project and decided to start another project in the middle of it?
What about starting a workout program and either starting another program or stopping your program altogether?
That’s a common problem for people.
What happens is that the mind like to play games with us. It sees us changing. It senses that we’re working towards something better.
The challenge here is that that mind thinks its job is to keep us safe. The only way to keep us safe is to keep us where we’re at.
Yeah, it’s a big ol’ mind f*&^* when you stop to think about it.
How can you overcome it? With self-discipline. You’re essentially forcing yourself to push through the mental roadblocks and get the job done.
That applies to every aspect of your daily life, whether it’s how you work, your eating habits, or exercise.
There’s a saying that I learned in Spanish: “¡Siempre Adelante!”
It means always ahead, or always forward.
Keep moving forward.
Motivation Doesn’t Mean Self-Discipline
There’s a huge difference between motivation and self-discipline.
Motivation is easy, it’s a feeling. Self-discipline can be hard if you’re not used to it. Self-discipline starts with your thoughts & beliefs and trickles down into your actions.
With motivation, it’s a feeling that lasts for so long. It’s like falling in love. The emotions run really high at the very beginning and then drift away. Sometimes, the feelings will evolve into something deeper.
Self-discipline takes the emotion out of your goals and focuses on the daily actions that will get you to your goals.
Let’s say you want to lose 20 pounds. You know what you have to do.
You start to work out at the gym. You start to make smarter food choices. You have that excitement (like falling in love) at the beginning.
Then, the shine starts to fade. You’re not that excited anymore. You look at how to motivate yourself to workout. Nothing seems to be working.
Getting up and going to the gym is harder than it was. There are too many tempting options and you return to your old ways of eating.
Self-discipline is a bit different. It doesn’t rely on your emotions, but rather your actions.
Self-discipline is doing a few key actions, usually small, that add up over time. That’s your result.
And it’s a hell of a lot easier said than done.
Tips to Have More Self Discipline
It is haaaaarrrd to have self-discipline, especially if you’re not used to it. That’s why these tips can come in handy.
I’ll be honest with you.
It took me about a month to write this blog post. I had other projects to work on, and I was distracted by shiny squirrels.
Yep, self-discipline takes constant work. It takes effort. But once you get the hang of it and start taking small actions, you’ll see the results.
The main thing to remember is that it’s always one action that moves us ahead. The results will show up, I promise😊
1. Know Your Trip-Ups
Self-awareness is going to play a major role in building up self-discipline.
You have to know what your trip-ups are and why.
Let’s say that you’re trying to lose weight.
You work out 3-5 days a week consistently, but you’re having a hard time getting your eating habits under control.
You start to pay attention to certain moments, like when you’re reaching for that bowl of ice cream.
Because you’re paying attention, and not on autopilot, you figure out that you reach for the bowl of ice cream because you’re tired and hungry.
During this process, you learn more about yourself. You might realize that there’s a lot of stress in your life and you deal with it by eating, even if it’s healthy food.
As you’re discovering things about yourself, you can keep a journal and make notes as to what’s coming up for you.
2. Have a Plan to Deal with Them
Now that you’re more aware of your trip-ups, you need to make a plan to deal with them.
It’s easy to say, “Well, I’ll just push through and make a better decision.”
That is one option, but it’s unlikely to work in the long term.
There will be times when willpower isn’t enough.
That’s why you need a plan to deal with the trip-ups.
In your journal, write down 3-5 things that you can do to overcome those trip-ups.
In the weight loss example, one strategy would be to get more sleep. Another would be to keep ice cream out of the house. One more would be to find more productive outlets to deal with stress.
3. Get Comfortable Making Others Uncomfortable
When you start to have more self-discipline, you might notice a shift in your relationships.
Remember that everyone operates on autopilot. About 95% of the decisions we make are on autopilot. People are used to being on autopilot and they’re used to you operating on autopilot.
If you suddenly shift out of autopilot, people will notice.
They’ll try to pull you back into your normal pattern.
Not because they don’t want what’s best for you. They’re used to you behaving a certain way and it’s weird to them when you break that pattern.
You’ll see this in relationships of all types.
Have you ever been out with friends and you tell them that you’re eating a certain way or not drinking alcohol?
How many times did you hear “just have one, it’s not gonna kill you!”
That’s because you’re making them slightly uncomfortable about the changes you’re making in your life.
They might be insecure about their own inability to change, or like your mind, they want to see you where you’re at. They like you where you are now.
It’s easy to just give in and break your new found habits.
Once you recognize the reasoning behind these interactions, it’s much easier to say no and stick to your guns.
Here’s an opportunity to have a plan when those situations come up.
4. Read Scripture
This suggestion to have more self-discipline can seem a little out there. I’m a big believer that finding peace and wisdom in the day-to-day work helps minimizes distractions and maintain focus.
There’s a lot of value in reading the bible. Even if you’re not a religious type, the bible has a lot of wisdom when it comes to self-discipline and self-control.
For me, reading scripture is a source of peace and knowing that I’m on the right path. You might have other sources of wisdom that you turn to, and that’s fine. This happens to be mine.
Here are some of my favorite bible verses about self-discipline.
The appetite of the lazy craves, and gets nothing, while the appetite of the diligent is richly supplied.
Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded.
2 Chronicles 15:7
By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.
I consider that the suﬀerings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.
Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but those who hate to be rebuked are stupid.
The main message is that when you apply self-discipline to your life, you will be rewarded.
5. Be Kind to Yourself When You Trip Up
Here’s the thing about self-discipline. It’s a process.
There isn’t a magic moment where all of the sudden, the sun is shining, unicorns are prancing about, and your life is magically better.
It takes time for that to happen. And yes, it takes discipline.
The journey isn’t perfect.
There will be moments in the process where you trip up and take a step or two backward.
That’s OK. It will happen.
Here’s what you can do when you take a couple of steps backward.
Ask for help. This might be tough, but you can always reach out to a trusted friend for help and support. Let them in on what you want to accomplish and where you’re getting tripped up.
Take a good look at your goal. Remember why you set that goal to begin with and what you’ve already done to get there.
Your moment of perceived failure just might be a moment to celebrate.
We can be very hard on ourselves. Self-discipline doesn’t happen overnight. It happens over a period of time. It’s easy to let your confidence be shaken and give up.
Don’t do it.
Get back up and go for it.
One decision at a time.
Ready to Have More Self Discipline?
Self-discipline is a practice. You constantly have to work at it to be successful. You also have to stay on guard.
You’ll trip up. You’ll fall.
You’ll also get right back up and get back on track.
That’s just how life works. You set a goal, you go all out, you have setbacks, you keep going. The cycle repeats.
The trick here is that you get a little closer to your goal each time you get back up and keep going.
That’s what self-discipline is all about.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about self-discipline. Leave a comment below.