We all know the importance of self-discipline, but it’s also one of those skills that many of us struggle with. Most of us could do with way more of it because no matter what your goals are, you need the self-discipline to achieve them, and the bigger and loftier the goals, the more self-discipline you need! And levels of self-disciple can vary from one thing to the next. So, while you might be highly self-disciplined in one area of your life, you may find it harder to stay disciplined in other areas. What gives! In this article, I’m sharing some of the best science-backed strategies that can help you on your journey to becoming more self-disciplined.
Common Signs You Might Need More Self-Discipline
Before I dive into the ways you can become more self-disciplined if you’re not sure how self-disciplined you are, here are some of the tell-tell signs that you might need more self-discipline:
You have trouble sticking to a schedule or following through on your commitments.
I hate to admit it, but I’ve been guilty of this one. When you think about self-discipline, you probably think of things like not eating so much junk food, cutting back on alcohol, or stopping some other bad habit.
But there are many other areas in which you could lack self-discipline. For example, it could be that you’re not disciplined with how much you take on or how often you say yes to people.
While there are lots of potential reasons why you might struggle to say no and end up with too much on your plate, the truth is, having more self-discipline could help to tackle the issue. Making it easier to follow through on the things you do say yes to.
You find it difficult to resist temptation or distractions.
Whether you’re shopping, binge-watching Netflix, scrolling through social media, or something else, there are more and more distractions to contend with every day, making it even more important to learn how to become more self-disciplined.
You procrastinate or put off important tasks.
This one’s often connected to number two. When you procrastinate, you keep yourself busy with distractions rather than spending time on what’s truly important.
If you struggle with procrastination, it might be time to discover why and learn how to overcome it. Read this article about procrastination to get started.
You struggle to maintain healthy habits, such as exercising or eating well.
The key word here is habits. If you don’t have enough self-discipline initially, the chances of building good habits are slim because building habits takes time. But when things become habits, you no longer have to practice so much self-discipline.
Think about it, how much self-discipline do you need to brush your teeth every day? None! You just do it. That’s the power of habits. But sadly, in the early stages, self-discipline is paramount.
[Learn about the top 13 Powerful Traits & Habits of Successful Women]
You have difficulty making significant life changes, such as quitting smoking or starting a new career.
The more significant the change you’re trying to make, and the bigger the goals you’re trying to achieve, the more self-discipline you need since the journey will be long, and there are bound to be challenges and setbacks. Since self-discipline at its core is about doing what needs to be done, even when you don’t feel like it, the more self-discipline you have, the better. Without self-discipline, you won’t be able to stay the course when things inevitably get tough.
And if you are thinking of making a career change, check out our top 3 career change posts:
- 7 Essentials For Making A Successful Career Change [PODCAST]
- 12 Best Ways to Prepare for a Career Change: Even If You Don’t Know What You Want To Do Yet
- 7 Steps To Finding Your Dream Career And Making That Career Change
You feel overwhelmed or stressed out by your responsibilities and commitments.
We all feel stressed and overwhelmed at one time or another, but if you feel like this more often than not, you’re likely taking on too much too often.
We’ve already talked about how not having enough self-discipline to say no leads to taking on too much. And taking on too much can only lead to feeling stressed and overwhelmed. This makes becoming more self-disciplined even more important.
You frequently engage in impulsive or risky behavior
We’ve all experienced the buzz of an impulse buy or the excitement of doing something a little out there, that you would never typically do. But if you find yourself constantly in a pickle because of your impulsiveness, you could probably do with a little more self-discipline or constraint.
If you recognize any of these behaviors in yourself, then it may be time to start working on developing more self-discipline. This could be in a few specific areas or generally across the board.
The 10 Golden Rules for Becoming More Self-Disciplined
Now that you know the tell-tell signs that you might not be self-disciplined enough, here are some effective strategies for developing more self-discipline.
1. Set clear goals:
Setting specific goals that are realistic and achievable, with a clear and manageable action plan in place, will not only help you focus and stay motivated but is also crucial if you want to improve your self-discipline.
For example, let’s say you want to get fitter; it will be much easier to be self-disciplined if you have a specific goal in mind, like running a marathon by a specific date. By having a clear goal that is time-bound, you are far more likely to take action than if you just plan to do more exercise generally.
2. Create a Plan and Schedule
Once you have your goal in mind, you must create a plan to achieve it. This includes setting deadlines, making a schedule, and identifying any resources you might need. Doing this will put you on the right path to becoming more self-disciplined. Continuing with the running example, by preparing a training plan and committing to run every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 6am, you are far more likely to train than if you don’t have a plan of action.
Of course, sticking to plans and schedules can be challenging, but there are many tools that can help. For example, you might want to start using a planner. There are plenty of great planners to choose from, and it’s a simple way to stay on track.
And if you prefer to use technology, then the options are endless. Here are a few great options we recommend:
- ToDoist – for the list lover
- Trello – if you prefer Camban style
- Asana – A great traditional project management tool that looks great and is easy to use. Although many custom features start on the paid plan
- Click-Up – An awesome project and work management tool. It’s great for solopreneurs and teams. With tons of features available on the free plan.
3. Create a structured environment
Another reason you’re more likely to be self-disciplined in the marathon example is that it involves a consistent routine. Creating a structured environment, like establishing a consistent daily routine or setting boundaries for yourself, can help you stay on track and avoid distractions. This is a great way to start if you want to become more self-disciplined.
To get started with setting routines, check out the following articles:
- 25 Things To Do Before 9AM For An Incredible Morning Routine
- 105 Self-Care Affirmations to Enhance Your Self-Care Routine
- 7 Simple Friday Routines That Will Supercharge Your Week Ahead
4. Make self-care a priority
While this may come as a surprise, taking care of yourself is an essential part of self-discipline. If you’ve ever tried to make decisions when you feel drained, then you know you don’t always make the best ones. So make self-care a priority!
Get enough sleep, exercise, and nourishment to keep your body and mind in good shape.
Adequate sleep is critical for maintaining self-control and staying self-disciplined.
5. Build good habits
If you can turn something into a habit, it’s worth doing so. While building habits takes time, the results are well worth it. Think of habits like a biological automation system.
Self-discipline is often about building good habits and breaking bad ones. Start by identifying any bad habits you want to change, then work on replacing them with better ones.
6. Stay organized
Being organized can help you stay on track and avoid distractions. Take time to declutter and create systems that work for you.
Whatever it is that you’re trying to do, creating an environment that will get you in the required mindset will make being self-disciplined much easier. Examples include having a clear desk and tidy home office and only keeping things that are relevant to the task at hand within reach.
7. Get accountability
If you want to become more self-disciplined, getting accountability is one of the best things you can do. Having someone to hold you accountable is a great way to stay motivated and on track. This could be a friend, mentor, or coach.
8. Try mindfulness
Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment and focusing on your thoughts and feelings. Studies have shown that regular mindfulness practice can help you stay focused and avoid distractions. The better you become at avoiding distractions and maintaining focus, the more self-disciplined you will be.
9. Practice self-compassion
If you’re the kind of person who beats yourself up over things, then I feel your pain! But being overly harsh on yourself isn’t the answer. Be kind and understanding towards yourself on this journey to becoming more self-disciplined. This will help you stay motivated and resilient when faced with challenges or setbacks.
What’s more, it’s important to note that improving self-discipline takes time and effort. Don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t happen quickly.
10. Start small & be persistent
While you might want a complete life overhaul, it’s best to make changes one step at a time, focusing on one area at a time. This also applies to developing self-discipline.
Remember that self-discipline is a skill. And like any other skill, it can be developed over time with practice and effort, so while these strategies won’t make you more self-disciplined overnight, they will work if you stick with them long-term.
Start by working on being more self-disciplined in one area, and the results will soon spill over to other areas of your life. As the saying goes:
How you do one thing is how you do everything.
So start with that one thing.