“Willpower is not a personality trait, a skill or a virtue. Instead, it operates like a muscle. And as such, it can be strengthened.” -Kelly McGonigal
We all know what we need to do yet we do not do it.
If you are like me, you have probably mastered the skill of fabricating excuses as to why you should not do the things, that deep down you knew would drastically change your life— for the better.
As they say, it is often the things we do not feel like doing that we need to do the most.
The truth is self-discipline is a learned skill, not an innate characteristic; and the benefits exceed self-control and willpower.
When you are disciplined you remove much of the negative thinking that occurs when persuading yourself, often with deceitful thoughts, not to do something. Which in turn allows you to make positive decisions more easily, giving you more time to actually work on the task. So not only is it detrimental to your inner peace, but it is also a waste of time.
“We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment.” -Jim Rohn
5 Ways to Improve Your Self-Discipline:
Do It For the Discipline
The task or habit at hand may be very tedious, and whether you are having a hard time completing the task or not, remind yourself that you are doing it for the discipline. Remind yourself even when the task is easy or fun so that it is used as an affirmation, ‘I am disciplined’. Making the mundane tasks easier to tackle.
“Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.” -Kevin Durant
Don’t wait for it to feel right, you might be waiting for the rest of your life for everything to be perfect. Remember, it is often the things we don’t want to do that we need to do the most. So when you find that you are arguing with yourself, stop immediately and just get up and do it, more often than not you would have been done by now.
Is It Really That Bad?
What do you hate more, your current life situation or doing whatever it is you need to do? Is that 30-minute run or 5 minutes to brush your teeth really that painful? You are going to go through pain either way, either from the doing, or from the regret & disappointment of not doing, so you might as well do.
Burn All Ships
Eliminate all options of fleeing and remove all excuses, especially in the early stages. Get rid of all alternatives, make sure nothing will get in your way. If you are trying to eat healthier, it would not be wise to keep a jar of cookies on your counter. Want to go for a run in the morning? Set out your running gear the night before so you don’t have to think about what you are going to wear. Sleep in the clothes if you have to and skip the dressing process entirely.
All it takes is that one moment of weakness. Remove all temptations.
Finish What You Start & Do It Well.
One of my greatest weakness was completing ninety percent of a task then telling myself “ahh I’m almost done, I can finish it in 5 mins… later.” And just like discipline is a habit, so is cutting tasks short.
Don’t rush the process so you can tell yourself you have completed it, or to check it off your to-do list. Everything you do, do it with passion, give it your 100% and take it to 100%, because how you do anything is how you do everything. Habits are not always positive, and if you start rushing tasks or leaving them incomplete, you will get in the habit of doing so, and you are actually putting yourself in a worse position than not doing it at all. Spending an extra couple of minutes the first time is better than re-doing the entire process, spending double the amount of time and effort.