There are four aspects of self discipline and they are: Acceptance, Willpower, Hard Work, and Diligence.
I am going to explore each of these and outline why it’s so important and how to develop it. However, initially, let me start with an over-all overview….
What exactly Is Self Discipline?
Self discipline is the capability to get yourself to take action irrespective of your mental condition.
Imagine what you might achieve if you can basically get yourself to follow through on your best intentions no matter what. İmagine yourself saying to your body, “You’re over weight. Lose 20 lbs. ” Without having self discipline that objective won’t become manifest. However with enough self discipline, it’s a done deal. The peak of self discipline is when you reach the point that when you make a mindful decision, it’s practically guaranteed you’ll keep going on it.
Self discipline is one of several personal development tools open to you. Obviously it’s not a panacea. Nonetheless, the issues which self discipline can solve are essential, and while there are alternative methods to fix these types of issues, self discipline completely shreds them. Self discipline can encourage you to get over any addiction or lose any amount of weight. It can eliminate procrastination, disorder, and ignorance. Within the domain of issues it can fix, self discipline is simply unmatched. Furthermore, it becomes an effective teammate when coupled with other tools similar to enthusiasm, goal-setting, and planning.
Building Self Discipline
My philosophy of how to build self discipline is best explained by an analogy. Self discipline is like a muscle. The more you train it, the stronger you become. The less you train it, the weaker you become.
Just as everybody has different muscular strength, all of us have different degrees of self discipline. Everybody has some — if you can hold your breath a couple of seconds, you’ve many self discipline. But not everybody has developed their discipline to the same level.
Just as it requires muscle to build muscle, it requires self discipline to build self discipline.
How you can build self discipline is similar to using progressive weight training to build muscle. This implies lifting weights that are close to your limit. Be aware that when you weight train, you lift weights that are within your capability to lift. You push your muscles till they fail, then you rest.
Likewise, the fundamental approach to build self discipline is to deal with challenges that you can successfully achieve however which are close to your limit. This doesn’t mean trying something and failing at it every single day, nor does it mean staying within your comfort zone. You’ll gain simply no strength trying to lift a weight that you can’t budge, nor will you gain strength lifting weights which are too light for you. You have to begin with weights/challenges which are within your existing capability to lift however which are close to your limit.
Progressive training implies that when you succeed, you increase the challenge. If you keep working out with the same weights, you won’t get any stronger. Likewise, if you fail to challenge yourself in life, you won’t gain any more self discipline.
Just as many people have very weak muscles when compared with just how strong they are able to become with training, many people are very weak in their degree of self discipline.
It’s a mistake to try to push yourself way too hard when trying to build self discipline. If you try to transform your whole life overnight by setting lots of new objectives for yourself and expecting yourself to follow through consistently beginning the following day, you’re pretty much certain to fail. This is like a person going to the gym for the first time ever and packing 300 lbs on the bench press. You’ll only look silly.
If you can only lift 10 lbs, you can only lift 10 lbs. There’s no shame in starting where you are. I recall when I began working with a personal trainer several years ago, on my first attempt at doing a barbell shoulder press, I could only lift a 7-lb bar with no weight on it. My shoulders were very weak because I’d never trained them. But within a few months I was up to 60 lbs.
Similarly, if you’re very undisciplined right now, you can still use what little discipline you have to build more. The more disciplined you become, the easier life gets. Challenges that were once impossible for you will eventually seem like child’s play. As you get stronger, the same weights will seem lighter and lighter.
Don’t compare yourself to other people. It won’t help. You’ll only find what you expect to find. If you think you’re weak, everyone else will seem stronger. If you think you’re strong, everyone else will seem weaker. There’s no point in doing this. Simply look at where you are now, and aim to get better as you go forward.
Let’s think about an example.
İmagine you would like to develop the ability to do 8 solid hours of work every day, since you know it will make a real difference in your career. I was listening to an audio program this morning that quoted a study saying the average office worker spends 37% of their time in idle socializing, not to mention other vices that chew up more than 50% of work time with unproductive non-work. So there’s a lot of room for improvement.
Possibly you try to work a solid 8-hour day without succumbing to distractions, and you can only do it once. The next day you fail utterly. That’s OK. You did one rep of 8 hours. Two is too much for you. So cut back a bit. What duration would allow you to successfully do 5 reps (i. e. a whole week)? Could you work with concentration for one hour a day, five days in a row? If you can’t do that, cut back to 30 minutes or whatever you can do. If you succeed (or if you feel that would be too easy), then increase the challenge (i. e. the resistance).
As soon as you’ve mastered a week at one level, take it up a notch the next week. And go on with this progressive training till you’ve reached your goal.
Whilst analogies like this are never perfect, I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of this one. By raising the bar just a little each week, you stay within your abilities and grow stronger over time. But when doing weight training, the actual work you do doesn’t mean anything. There’s no intrinsic benefit in lifting a weight up and down — the advantage comes from the muscle growth. However, when building self discipline, you also get the benefit of the work you’ve done on the way, so that’s even better. It’s great when your training produces something of value and makes you stronger.
In the next post, we’ll dive deeper into the four aspects of self discipline.
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