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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Building Self Discipline

This article is based on the free eBook "Personal Confidence & Motivation"5 well-oiled ways to build more self-discipline

For some of us, discipline is a dirty word which we associate with rather unpleasant tasks and situations. But believe it or not, self-discipline actually offers you a sort of freedom. When you have the discipline to continue reaching for your goals despite how you are feeling at the moment, you will enjoy all the results of that effort and the time that it creates for you.

Self-discipline requires the ability to act according to what you are thinking rather than what you are feeling at the time. Sure, we have days when we don’t want to go to work, but we know that if we don’t, there will be consequences. We might lose the day’s pay – or even lose the job – which would have its own consequences.

There are five basic characteristics of people who possess self-discipline: Self-knowledge, conscious awareness, commitment, courage and internal coaching.

As we look at each of these traits, keep in mind that you don’t have to be born having these characteristics. You can learn to be more self-disciplined by practising each of these aspects. Take a look!

1. Self-Knowledge

If self-discipline requires that you act according to what you think is best rather than how you feel at the moment, then you need to know enough about yourself and your goals to understand what the best course of action is for you.

You need to determine what kind of behaviour, choices, standards, goals, and values are the best choices for you and your future. In order to do so, you need to take the time to get to know what is important to you. Try writing out a list of your goals or dreams, or even write a personal mission statement. This will help you decide how to structure your time and efforts when you have to make choices between options.

Self-knowledge will help you understand what is important to you and to identify the areas where you’ll want to spend the most time and energy.

2. Conscious Awareness

Now you've looked at yourself and identified what is important to you. But before you can become more disciplined, you need to pay attention to what you are already doing and not doing. Where are you using your time well? Where are you wasting it? Where are you spending time on things that aren't really important to you and aren't of value to you or the organization?

Until you know where your behaviour is undisciplined, you won’t know what areas you can improve upon. The better you get at identifying the areas where you lack discipline, the faster you will get at nipping that unproductive behaviour in the bud. Eventually you’ll get to the point where you can stop undisciplined behaviour before it happens.

Before you can become more disciplined, you need to pay attention to what you are already doing and not doing.

3. Commitment

Without commitment to your goals and values, your self-discipline won’t last. The first time that a temptation comes along to take you away from your goal-driven activity, it is your commitment to your goal that will keep you going on the right path.

Perhaps you have attempted to instil discipline around a goal that you don’t actually want. We may think we should want to reach a goal, say, at work we might think we should want a promotion, but perhaps we aren't committed to it because deep-down, we don’t really want it.

Self-discipline won’t last if you aren't truly committed to the goals that you are pursuing. If you find that commitment is wavering, you might need to go back to the self-knowledge step and make sure that your goal is something you truly want.

4. Courage

Standing up for something that is important to you in the face of all of the challenges and temptations that we face in life takes a great deal of courage. You may have to negotiate with your spouse or other loved ones to pursue your goal, such as if you decide you want to go back to school at night. Or, you might have to change your behaviour that others have come to expect from you. For example, maybe you've always been the life of the party and now you have decided to focus on eating right, limiting alcohol, and getting a full-night’s sleep every night, so your friends start wondering who you are.

There’s no guarantee that self-discipline will be easy. But if you are committed to something important to you, you’ll need to find the courage to say ‘no’ to things that attempt to dissuade you from your course.

There’s no guarantee that self-discipline will be easy. But if you are committed to something important to you, you’ll need to find the courage to say ‘no’ to things that attempt to dissuade you from your course.

5. Internal Coaching

The self-disciplined person also needs to discipline the negative voice that is in their head. As we talked about before, we all have an internal critic. So when you face a challenge to your self-discipline, that critic will start shouting things at you like, “See, I knew you couldn't do it!” or “Go on, just skip the gym this one time!” Instead, you want to start training that ‘internal critic’ to become your ‘internal coach.’

You should practice cheering yourself on, encouraging yourself, and reassuring yourself that you are making the right choices. Think about how you would talk to a friend or child you were encouraging to achieve their goals, and be at least that kind and supportive to yourself!

To help your self-discipline, you’ll need to turn that ‘internal critic’ into your ‘internal coach.’

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