The Art Of Self-Discipline

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DisciplineA lot of people struggle with staying focused and consistent. That’s what self-discipline is all about; the ability to stay focused on the task at hand independently of what you desire or feeling for the moment is as long as you are staying true to your objective.

Self-discipline means waking up on time instead of sleeping in in order to meet deadlines or staying away from that extra bowl of desert if you are committed to staying lean. Often enough, staying disciplined goes against our base desires and impulses about what feels convenient in the moment.

That’s just the thing. It's not about convenience; it’s about self-control and commitment to achieving your goals. It’s about sacrificing instant gratification for long-term goals. When we forego what feels comfortable in the moment for high gains in the future, we make an investment in ourselves.

It's A Habit, and A Good One

Self-discipline is by nature a habit, and a good one at that. Habits are regular tendencies that are ingrained in how we conduct ourselves and they are particularly hard to give up- especially the bad ones. But the thing about good habits is that they are often not automatic. We usually tend to gravitate towards bad habits- things we shouldn't do or things that aren't good for us.

Self-discipline is a prerequisite of several good habits. It is a supper-habit. It allows us to maintain other habits. If you're going to take up running to stay fit, you need self-discipline to get up and go on time, every time. Self-discipline is that high level habit that allows you to keep your base habits.

We ultimately we have to acquire our good habits, self-discipline included, through consistent practice. To make things even more complicated, good habits are not sticky. You have to work at it to retain them. It’s a case of use them or lose them. That is why it is important to keep practising self-discipline to reinforce it in your daily routine.

What’s wonderful about maintaining self-discipline, however, is that it is learnable. All that is required to attain a high level of self-discipline is to make the initial commitment and stick to it. Initially it will be hard to cultivate good habits but if you persist you will soon find that through self-discipline the good habit become second-nature.

The Key To Success

In his book titled, “No Excuses: The Power Of Self-Discipline”, Brian Tracy says that self-discipline is the key to personal greatness, and I couldn't agree more. Self-discipline is that aspect of yourself that will ensure that you do what you intend and must do whether you feel like it or not.

This is an important point because often than not we get in the way of our own success simply because it feels uncomfortable even though we are well aware that the discomfort is only temporary on the path to achieving our goals.

I like the phrasing by Brian Tracy- “Personal mastery” because it speaks to an important point about success. It correlates with a saying by Napoleon hill who point out that “you have to first conquer the self in order to avoid being conquered by the self”. 

I believe all successes and victories start from within. Unless you have firm control over yourself, there is no way you can have an impact on everything outside and around you. If everything within yourself is in order, then everything else will fall into place. This is the promise of self-discipline.

Why Is It So Hard

I am sure you will agree that self-discipline is hard. But why is it so hard? I'm almost certain that you will agree that practicing self-discipline will improve your life for the better. Then the big question is, why even fully knowing the benefits, do people not commit to practicing self-discipline?

For the most part, the answer lies in the human tendency to pick the easy way out. To choose that path of least resistance. We often want to do what is easy instead of what is necessary. Making these kind of choices however comes at high cost as we quickly find out that we miss out on attaining most of our goals and end up with mediocre achievements.

Another reason why it is hard for people to practice self-discipline is the desire to seek instant gratification. We want things now without sweating for them. In my experience, things not worked hard for tend to be fickle. Whilst we may get instant gratification, we are almost guaranteed long term pain and discontentment.

Universal Impact

Self-discipline has broad impact over your life. It affects all areas of your life and determines how you are going to fare in life. Hard work and consistent achievement of goals rests on your ability to practice self-discipline.

Success at work or in business is a factor of self-discipline. If you are able to complete your tasks in time and as a result achieve more, you will be able to deliver times over more than average. And when you do this, whether it is at work or in business, the people around you will assign more responsibility on you and you will in turn have greater returns.

In financial management, self-discipline is crucial. It will allow you to stay frugal. To not spend unnecessarily and also avoid the trap of unnecessary expenses and bad credit. Financial mastery and independence requires a very high level of self-discipline.

Personal happiness is another area that self-discipline has high impact. If you are a highly discipline individual, you will avoid the pitfalls that result in social ills due to inappropriate behaviours. Furthermore, you will be able to develop strong and sustainable relationships with those around you thereby ensuring personal happiness.

Start Small And Consolidate

It is said a journey of a thousand steps begins with the first step and so it is with self-discipline. It is daunting to focus on what needs to be achieved as a whole and it can only be daunting if approached this way. What needs to be done to achieve self-mastery is to simply being able to grow in your stride. In other words, take baby steps.

With baby steps you can achieve something monumental with time. The first step is setting goals about what you would like to achieve. The next step is to set priorities around what needs to be done. Follow this up with incremental effort and finally making the fulfilment and realisation of your objective non-negotiable. If you take this approach, there is no doubt in my mind that you will be well on your way towards self-mastery.

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