We all know that not all of us are capable of starting a routine and follow through. Self-discipline or self-control as you might call it is a little too much for some of us, as we all know, old habits are hard to break.
But what if there is a way you could master the art of self-discipline and not feel overwhelmed by the end of the day!
Thinking of joining a gym class and cutting down the amount of junk the food you eat?
Are you an alcoholic and want to cut down your intake of alcohol?
Looking to lose weight? Or for some reason, you just want to master the art of self-discipline. Well, you are in luck. Am sure by the time you finish reading this post you probably will be a master of self-control.
But before we go into details of how to develop self-control we need to know what it means by self-control or self-discipline and why is self-control important in our lives.
According to “Your Dictionary”, Self-discipline is the ability you have to control and motivate yourself to stay on track and do what is right.
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Why is self-control important in our lives?
Self-discipline is very much important in our lives because without it we are literally lost. Here are just a few importance of self-control:
1. Self-control allows us to be in charge of our emotions and avoid making a bad judgement.
2. Having self-control helps us achieve more in life than we would normally do if we don’t have it.
3. It makes us a better person
4. It helps us stay organised
How to develop self-discipline
1. Manual Habits
Forming a good habit is a hard thing to do. If you are trying to get in shape and just joined a gym, sometimes you will find yourself wanting to skip the gym and craving for junk food. You will be vulnerable to temptation within the first 60 days.
For a new habit to start to feel normal, it has to take up to 66days of hard work. Within this 66days, your brain and body are beginning to get used to the new habit and as long as you are consistent and stay true to the goal, the new habit will begin to feel normal and automatic.
But before your brain and body get accustomed to the new habit, you should be ready to deal with any new habits growing pain.
You can’t cut yourself too much slack, you can’t talk yourself out of it or allow yourself to cheat. Usually, it’s never easy during this period but you need to always remind yourself what’s at stake.
For this process to get any easier, you need to force it, try to smile through the pain cos it’s essential for habit formation. It won’t always be fun and easy, in fact, it probably never will be for the next two months but with consistency and desire, it will begin to feel normal.
2. Daily Monitoring
No matter what you are trying to accomplish, monitoring your behaviour by writing it down is a good way to keep encouraging yourself on the right path.
Let’s look at it as a to-do list, don’t you feel better when you look at your list at the end of the day and see your list all crossed out? This gives you the opportunity to physically see your progress happening.
Monitoring your habit daily helps you focus on reaching the same success daily and even aiming higher. And if you are not making success, monitoring helps you figure out what you are doing wrong.
But if you don’t monitor your habit daily, you will always overlook, any mishaps and bound to always repeat them.
3. Managing Anticipation
We struggle to control things like overspending because of what psychologists call “anticipatory joy”. For example, you see an advert of a soon to be released phone and you are already excited and imagine how the phone is going to fit perfectly to your lifestyle and all the great pictures you would take with it.
Then you went ahead and got yourself one and you discovered your life doesn’t suddenly change, you might even be disappointed and frustrated. So you search for something else to make you happy before you know it, you are back to your old habit of overspending.
Anticipatory joy is a trick your brain plays on itself. It affects more than just your spending habits. You get the same feeling when you dish works for a concert or when you decided to take a road trip thinking it will be some kind of life-changing journey.
When you want something, your brain always doesn’t think rationally. The idea of improving your life stimulates the release of feel-good hormones. They reward anticipation and emotion, making it difficult for you to think rationally.
Your emotions can make you believe that it is worth it to be reckless and out of control, they sell you a vision of your future that probably never going to come through.
Anticipatory joy isn’t such a bad thing if you channel it in the right direction. Whenever you get excited about the material things you want, concentrate on the person you wanna become. Start anticipating what your life would look like when you accomplish your goals, then you will have something that will make you happy to be excited about.
4. Patterned Living
If you want to improve your self-control, you need to look closely at your lifestyle a little bit differently.
Less disciplined people tend to use an “act” mindset.
For example, if you want to be more productive, and you might think there is nothing wrong procrastinating one time, but before you know, one time turns to two times and so on. Before you know it, you will never get anything done. Cheating once encourages you to cheat more.
On the other hand, people with self-discipline use a “pattern” mindset. They know that breaking the rules means they are ruining the objective, so they try not to change the good pattern they have set.
5. Calculated distractions
Having no distraction can be as bad as having too much distraction. In essence, what am trying to say here is that self-discipline isn’t about removing every distraction in your life. But to make sure that the distractions are calculated in the sense that you don’t over distract yourself and forget the task at hand.
The point of distracting yourself is to relieve stress and help you to recharge yourself. A distraction can even help inspire you to see things differently.
If distractions take more of your time or create more stress than they take away, then you should know you are getting over distracted.
A calculated distraction is meant to be short and brings you a boost of happiness. Its main job is not to take your mind out of the game entirely, but to keep your mind refreshed and improve your mood.
Your brain needs some rest and relaxation to be able to perform well. You can try music, craft or snacks if you are looking for something to distract you.
6. Avoiding Temptations
We can’t emphasise enough how much distraction is important when learning self-control. You probably might be tempted to watch TV or spend that time browsing social media. But it’s important you focus that time on distracting yourself with something more productive, like listening to a podcast, doing some chores, read a book, rather than spending your time watching TV or browsing the social media.
Distractions could be powerful tools to keep you from making mistakes. Whether is cheating on your diet or spending too much money, distractions can help you overcome temptation.
Learning self-discipline isn’t easy, from time to time you will feel like breaking, but you don’t have to give in to that temptation. Rather, you should force your mind to think about something else that can make you feel fulfilled and motivated. The goal is to associate self-control with something that makes you feel better about yourself and not sacrifice the progress you have made.
Eventually, the new habit you are about to adopt will become normal and you will find out you don’t need to distract yourself often again and those bad habits won’t even cross your mind.
7. Productive Forgiveness
The truth is that most of the things mentioned above are easier said than done but it’s not impossible. You might find yourself fall back to your bad habits which is understandable but you must pick yourself up, forgive yourself and not dwell in it.
One mistake can hurt your progress, but that doesn’t mean you have to fall in a downward spiral and throw away all your hard work. The longer you wait to confront your mistakes the harder it gets to recover from them. You must learn to forgive yourself quickly and learn from your mistakes rather than dwelling in them.