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How to Build Self-Discipline – The 6 Key Elements

Do you often find yourself procrastinating? 

Perhaps doing things that you know you shouldn’t be doing?

Do you find it hard to stay focused and perform at your peak?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may need to build self-discipline.

Self-discipline is the ability to do what you think you should be doing rather than doing something based on how you feel.

For example, you may have an exam taking place tomorrow morning and your mind is telling you that you need to be studying and revising, however you feel exhausted, tired and you want to crash in front of the television.

Self-discipline is closely related to the concept of delayed gratification.By delaying the ‘feel good’ factor now, you can experience an even bigger ‘feel great’ factor at a later point in time.

For example, if you did decide to study the night before your exam instead of crashing in front of the television, you may have been more confident in your exam, less anxious and feeling more relaxed and calm.

As a result, you may have also experienced a better outcome or better grades. This ultimately leads to more satisfaction.

What are the other benefits of building self-discipline?

1. Understand Yourself

First, to build self-discipline you need to understand in what areas of your life are you not being disciplined? Where would you like to be more disciplined? What are the areas that you are struggling with most?

What are the 3 areas in your life that you keep putting off, but you know if you were to do them they would make a huge impact?

Write them down and also write down why you are currently not doing them. Next to each, write down why you want to do each.

Re-frame your situation into a positive and look at the benefits of doing something. This leads into my next point.

2. Focus on the Longer Term

What are your longer-term goals?

What are you trying to achieve in your life? Focusing on your longer-term goals helps you to understand the important of why you need to do something now. If you were to take action now, what is the longer-term benefit that you will get later?

For example, you may find it hard to get off to the gym or go for a run. If you were to go and do this now, what is the longer-term benefit that you will get? Your health, your fitness, your overall well-being is all dependent upon the action that you take in this moment.

Another thing is to ensure you do not procrastinate and say that ‘I’ll start tomorrow’. There is no better day than today to kick start a new habit and change your life.

By putting things off, this simply weakens your self-discipline and reinforces negative habits.

3. Schedule Your Time

A fantastic tool for building self-discipline is to schedule your time. If you are finding it hard to get started on writing your novel, schedule 30 minutes every day for the next 7 days and stick to the time you dedicated to it.

Before you know it, at the end of the week you would have spent 3 and a half hours writing your novel.

The key is to stick to the time you have scheduled. Obviously allow for some flexibility as a life that is totally scheduled is just simply no fun.

However, if you can’t work for 30 minutes at the scheduled point in time, ensure you do it at an earlier or a later time. If it can’t be done that day, ensure you add an extra 30 minutes to the following day.

4. Get Started

One of the best methods for building self-discipline is to simply get started. Often, the hardest part about doing something that you do not want to do is the fact that you have no momentum. It may seem like a daunting task.

Run with the motto of ‘just do it’. Take the first step, simply ‘force’ yourself to take action.

It will feel uneasy at first, but once you get the momentum going you will most likely start to feel the flow and build your self-discipline.

5. Reward Yourself

I mentioned above that self-discipline is closely related to delayed gratification. If you do something now, you will get a benefit at a future point in time, particularly if it is helping you reach your longer-term goals.

However, you can take this to another level. You don’t have to wait until the very end to be reward and start to feel good.

Reward yourself at milestones throughout your project or your take. Perhaps it is that you have not started a project yet.

Tell yourself that if you work for one hour on your project you will be rewarded with whatever it is that you want to be rewarded with. Set yourself little rewards throughout your project to help you build your self-discipline.

Before you know it, you will no longer need to reward yourself at such small intervals.

6. Get Support from Others

Support from others can be a great thing. I recently read that you are the sum of the 5 closest people to you. 

That means, if you are surrounding yourself with disciplined people that can encourage you and are supportive of your goals, then you are more likely to succeed in what it is that you are trying to do.

Who else is doing what you want to do? Another thing is to take action with someone else. Hold each other accountable for reaching your goals. 

Perhaps it’s finding a gym partner or maybe it’s letting your team member know that you will have a certain part of the project done by a certain date.

By holding each other accountable you will help build your self-discipline.

What have you found works for building self-discipline?

Written on 10/25/2012 by Brendan Baker. Brendan is an entrepreneur, socialite and starter of happiness. He runs Australia’s largest social network for individuals in their 20’s and has created The Start of Happiness, a movement dedicated to helping individuals find absolute happiness, reach peak performance and achieve ultimate success in life. You can visit Brendan at Photo Credit:
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