All of us at some point or another struggle with issues having to do with self-discipline. We have so much to do, especially those of us who work from home or who have big creative ambitions, yet we never seem to get around to doing them.
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This can be due to a variety of hurdles, from being easily distracted to “not enough hours in the day,” but at the core of all of them lays the same issue: self-discipline, or the lack thereof.
The problem, of course, is that to build self-discipline you need self-discipline, a nasty catch-22 that has badly messed with many people’s ambitions and dreams in the past. Yet at the same time many others seem to do very well for themselves, so what is it that you could be doing differently? Let’s have a look at some simple steps you can take to improve your self-discipline and make your dreams come true.
1. Start Small
It’s much easier to get down to business if you’re motivated to do so; nobody wants to get to work on an unpleasant task. One factor that can make any task unpleasant is it seems daunting or too much for one person to tackle.
The same goes for developing self-discipline. If you make the resolution to become a superhuman that is going to write 20,000 words a day while keeping the house spotless and volunteering at the animal shelter before going to the gym for 90 minutes, you are simply setting yourself up for failure. Nobody can do that. You will often enough meet people who say that they set some insane goal and reach it, but you really shouldn’t believe them. Start small so you’re setting yourself up for success, not failure.
For example, pick a single task that you want to make sure is done every day, set a time to do it and then do it. A fantastic task is meditation, as you’ll be able to kill two birds with one stone: work on your self-discipline by doing something that will aid your self-discipline.
Set two five-minute periods per day in which you sit down and breathe in and out. Let nothing interfere in those five minutes, and let nothing delay you starting. You will find that your mind is clearer and that you’re more motivated to work on whatever it is that you need to work on. As you keep doing this, you’ll find that it gets easier to sit yourself down and meditate, which brings us to point number three…
3. Consistency Trumps Intensity
If you do something a little bit every day, but do it without fail, you’ll be reaping the benefits much sooner than when you do it intensely but sporadically. So focus on doing something regularly, make it into a habit and the results will follow.
Self-discipline isn’t some ability with which you need to be born; it is a learned habit like any other. Pick something to start with and when that has become a habit, pick the next thing and so forth.
You may occasionally miss a beat, but don’t worry and just pick up where you left off. You’ll make it so much easier by being kind to yourself. By applying yourself consistently, you’ll be seeing the kind of progress of which you used to only dream.
4. Commit To Starting
A final tip is a technique from the Zen school of Buddhism, which many have found a very useful way of setting that crucial first step on the road toward self-discipline, or any road for that matter. Only commit to starting, tell yourself that all you’re going to do is make that first step. Forget about every step after it, only the first one matters. By focusing on the first step in every process, you’ll find it a great deal easier to get started, and as you know, once you’ve started to do something, you’re a lot less likely to stop doing it.
So, if you’re daunted by cleaning the house, just tell yourself all you need to do is clean that first plate. Don’t feel like working out? Just say that all you’ll do is a few jumping jacks. This principle can be applied to anything in your life. All you need to be is a little creative, start the process and the rest will follow.