I used to be stuck in a terrible loop. Constantly a victim to my self-discipline and not being able to stop myself from eating junk food or breaking the healthy habits that I worked so hard to create. If you want to change your life, you must learn how to improve your self discipline.
For years I ate unhealthily and was always picking pleasure over my health. Not realizing that it was my self-discipline that needed fixing.
Once I figured out the science behind why we do what we do, and how to conquer your self-discipline, everything started to become easier. There are extremely powerful techniques that anyone can apply that give you the power to control what decisions you make. Giving yourself more control over your life than ever before.
Have A Purpose
Why do you do what you do? Why do you get up in the morning? This can be a scary question to ask yourself. But if you can find the answer to these questions, it not only can boost your productivity, and help you learn how to improve your self discipline, it can increase your levels of happiness.
I have been working on this in my own life and how it reflects what I do with Mind of Habit. Purposes and people’s reasons why they do what they do, have been proven to push people to past their limits and accomplish extraordinary things.
Your purpose can always change and it should with time. But make sure you sit down and take time out of your day and figure out what yours is.
Having a purpose will help you on your path of how to improve your self discipline.
Improving Discipline By Beating Procrastination
Procrastination can cause us to fall back on our self-discipline and waste a lot of time. Here are a few tactics I use to minimize the amount of time you are procrastinating.
The 5 Second Rule
Procrastination is won in the second that the decision to either, start studying or not, arises. Inside that second that your alarm goes off and you want nothing more than to hit the snooze button.
As soon as that second comes up… start counting backward from 5. This tactic does a couple of things.
- It distracts your brain from trying to talk yourself out of doing the task you are dreading
- It gives you urgency, the deadline of 5 seconds makes you realize you don’t have time to waste.
When you hesitate, you have lost. That’s why this rule works so well.
The hardest part of any task is getting started, and getting yourself to stop procrastinating. So if you tell yourself,
“I will only work for 5 minutes”
Often times this helps you get through the beginning and then you realize that it’s not even that bad. Then you are able to compound off of your initial results and work for a longer period of time.
How To Gain Willpower?
To understand how willpower works. I would like to tell the story of the radish study:
There are 3 groups and they were told to fast before showing for the study, to ensure they were hungry.
All three were placed in a room. The control group sat in the room with nothing on their table. Group two had radishes and cookies on the table and were told they could eat whatever they wanted.
Group three was told they could eat the radishes but not the cookies. They were then all told they were going to be doing a puzzle that tested their reasoning. What they didn’t know, is that the puzzle could not be solved.
Group one and two both took approximately 20 minutes to give up on the unsolvable puzzle. But group three gave up in about 8 minutes.
Group 3 had to use up their willpower by not eating any of the cookies. Which made them perform worse and give up much sooner than the other groups.
What does this mean?
It means that willpower is very similar to a battery. The more you use it, the less you have. Science has proven that when you have less willpower you perform worse on tests, make bad decisions, and it is much harder to stick to your good habits.
So you must do your best to conserve your willpower on a day to day basis. Here are a few extra steps you can take to conserve your willpower:
Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world is known for saying you should only make 3 big decisions per day. Why does he say this? Because making decisions takes willpower. The more decisions you have to make throughout your day, the less willpower you have, this is called decision fatigue.
Just like in the radish study, when you have to fight off the urge to have cookies you are burning through your valuable supply of willpower. This is why when you are trying to stop eating junk food you should remove all of it from your home. When you have low amounts of willpower you will make worse decisions.
The more confidence you have in your ability to finish a task, the less willpower it takes. You can also do this by taking the task you want to accomplish and making it smaller. For example, if you have a 7-page paper due. Only focus on completing paragraphs at a time.
How confident are you that you could sit down and write one paragraph? Most of you would be pretty confident. Not sure if you would say the same if you had to sit down and write all 7 pages. Break everything down into smaller, more manageable tasks.
Sometimes it’s not always about how to be more disciplined, sometimes it’s about maintaining your willpower and using the discipline that you do have, efficiently.
How To Grow Discipline?
You need to start thinking about your self-discipline like a muscle. The more you work it out and the more you exercise it, the stronger it will become.
You can grow your self-discipline muscle by challenging it. Every time you have the urge to quit and you fight it off you win. Every time you finish a difficult task you win.
Go through your days conscious of this. When you are not giving in to temptations and you fight them off you are growing your self-discipline muscle.
Here are a few habits you can work on to be able to grow your self-discipline.
- Work on your posture
- Use your non-dominant hand for random tasks such as brushing your teeth and opening doors
- Actively change the words you use in your sentences (by removing the use of filling words such as umm and like)
If you work doing these small tasks throughout the day, it has been proven to boost your overall levels of self-discipline. How to be more disciplined can become much easier if your discipline muscle becomes stronger.
Understand What Motivates You
When you begin doing something new, what happens is you’re so excited to get started that it’s easy to do most of the work. You can’t wait to start and see where this takes you. This is called the honeymoon stage.
This is not meant to last forever. As time goes on, you begin to start noticing more and more problems, the process begins to feel like more work than you initially anticipated. Your motivation has started to run out. This is called the dip.
If you are able to fight through “the dip” you are rewarded. The motivation and inspiration to continue this work will come back. You go full circle.
You must understand this when starting a new project. This will help you persevere through “the dip” and be able to continue your work.
When you understand how motivation works and how to use it wisely you will also understand how to improve your self discipline.
Tips On How To Improve Your Self Discipline
The best way to not let yourself give in to these bad habits and stick to the plan you initially intended to is; to not even give yourself another option.
How can you do that?
Tell yourself you don’t have any other option. Make it real, and affirm to yourself that the only option you have is to stick to your initial plan.
Then use the tactic, “out of sight out of mind”.
For Example: If you are trying to eat healthily, don’t buy any junk food. Next, if you have bad food laying around the house, throw it out, or give it away. Don’t even tempt yourself.
If it all possible, make meals beforehand. This way, when it’s time to eat, you will have food ready. Our brain is always trying to convince us to take the easy way out. Don’t fall for it!
The “Compound Effect” is real. Once you have junk food that one time, you are that much more likely to have it a second time. But if you are able to consistently say no, it will only get easier to eat healthy.
If temptations are present in your life it will be a constant problem when you are trying to figure out how to be more disciplined.
Another example and tactic you can use, is in your night routine, lay out your clothes for the next day. So many people suffer from decision fatigue. Your willpower will begin to run out after making multiple decisions.
Think of your willpower like a battery, you are refreshed and fully charged at the start of the day. But as the day goes on your battery starts to become drained.
This is why many millionaires and billionaires such as Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs wear the exact same clothes every day.
Even Jeff Bezos says you should only make 3 decisions per day. Small habits like these compounded over years could make a huge difference.
To be able to effectively avoid your temptations, give yourself the path of least resistance so there is no decision to be made. You have no choice but to stick to your healthy habits.
This one needs to be used carefully. If you ate healthy all week, you may deserve a cheat meal, where you are able to eat something that you have been craving.
Reward yourself for small gains in the right direction. This helps you build strong habits and to be able to compound off your own success.
Just make sure that you deserve these scheduled rewards. You don’t want to be constantly rewarding yourself for not sticking to what you said you would.
Use rewards strategically to help yourself move forward and maintain as much motivation as possible, this is how you form the habit of being disciplined.
Not only does this apply to how to improve your self discipline, but it also matters throughout your life.
No matter how well you stick to your habits and use these tactics, it’s very likely that you will mess up at some point. We are not perfect, we are not meant to be, and that’s okay. Do not let one mistake ruin your entire plan.
Realizing that everyone messes up and this is just part of the process is extremely important. Use your mistakes as ways to learn more about yourself and improve your plan so you can make fewer mistakes in the future.
You must be able to forgive yourself and move on. Always remind yourself why you started in the first place.
Form Healthy Habits
Habits run everything in our lives. They put us on autopilot and make many of our decisions for us. When we try to do something that is not a habit that we currently have it uses a large portion of our self-discipline and willpower.
If we form habits around the right things then we will be able to save our self-discipline. Forming habits can be hard, and take a lot of time. That’s why I created a step by step process for you to follow along… How Habits are Formed
Not sure what habits to start with? These will help you get started:
Key Takeaways – How To Improve Your Self Discipline
The amount of self-discipline you have can dictate many of the decisions you make throughout the day and throughout your life. Do not underestimate how big of an effect it really makes to have a strong, well-toned, self-discipline muscle.
Use these tactics to grow your willpower and self-discipline and use them in the most effective way possible. This is the best way how to be more disciplined! Implement these strategies into your life and see the results.
Are you going to work on improving your self discipline?