Thought of the Day: Self-Discipline

Self Discipline

Discipline, even the sound of the word is serious and triggers rolling eyes. It alludes to routine, rules and restraint. It has been used interchangeably with motivation and willpower; but should that be the case? There is little doubt that it is necessary and important for success; though the question is why and why is it so hard to have self-discipline?

This topic is timely as my boyfriend and I have had our half-year review to assess whether we are on track with the resolutions/objectives we set out at the beginning of the year. Overall, we aren’t doing too badly but recognise that there is still a long way to go and for the remainder of the year we both have to be focused, effective – we have to be disciplined (ugh).

The One Thing this year for myself is the development of this blog. My recent efforts have been lacklustre; despite having identified that this is a passion of mine. The blog has brought me to places where I have not been before; my interest in art and culture has grown by leaps and bounds, yet, I lack the discipline to stick to a blogging schedule. Weekdays are particularly difficult, when the motivation is low, after spending all day at work. Energy levels are low for creative writing… or anything else for that matter. Yet, should this let this stop me? Is this an excuse for myself?

Success vs. Self-Discipline

There is a huge selection of self-help books and articles devoted to motivation and self-discipline. As society increases its obsession with success and accomplishments, the literature has naturally ballooned with it. Supposedly the one thing that is common across successful people (depends on what you define as successful…) is self-discipline. Individuals that come across as lacking in motivation are often accused of “not wanting something bad enough”.

Motivation is what is needed to start something new, but let’s face it, it is not sustainable. Peak performance is not sustainable. When the initial excitement and motivation wears off, it is discipline and determination that will turn something successful. If it is discipline and determination is the sustenance to keeping our dreams and goals alive, what can one do to develop self-discipline?

Remove the barriers

Self-discipline seems like a lot of work, but remember it is not about being at your “peak” 100% of the time. Motivation, as mentioned above, is your spark, self-discipline is used to keep the fire burning. By removing barriers to your goal and tasks, this will enable self-discipline which in turns lead to consistency. There is a lot of literature around this, so here is a summary of tips from others have cracked the code to self-discipline. 

  • Narrow down to what you enjoyment – nothing is sustainable if you do not enjoy it to some degree. Self-discipline is hard, it is even harder if you hate it; if you don’t enjoy or care about it, scrap it. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to self-discipline. Know what is necessary, know what you like to do within that area, and then go all in on that tiny area. Spend that time to know yourself better and find your passion.
  • Start small – not only should you find something you enjoy, but building self-discipline should also start small. Start off with some “low hanging fruit” and the sense of accomplishment would drive you forward. We all know that trick, but it works. One win then move onto the next thing. Marginal gains should be the focus and always celebrate small wins!
  • Process over product – Some people give up before they even started when the goal is too great or daunting. It is not necessary to worry about the outcome, similar to marginal gains, concentrate on just moving forward. Stick to the process as the outcome will naturally come.
  • Routine – I have previously blogged about this before; by removing the decision process and focus on building a solid routine, it should make self-discipline easy. You already have the right environment so all you have left is to put things into action. For myself, I have my computer set up in the office and now I have set days where I will sit down to blog. No excuse, just do it as part of my routine, like my gym sessions or waking up for work from Monday to Friday.
  • Patience – this is not something I have a lot of but is important. Self-discipline is to build something that is sustainable, but you have to build expectations that things take time. Be kind to yourself if things are going slower than you would like and recognise that as long as you keep it up, you will get there.

Challenge

As I continue to blog about my thoughts of the day, I am starting to see a consensus of ideas.

Success = to leverage off the motivation of an initial idea and sustain it by building a good routine and form habits through self-discipline. Focus on marginal gains and just keep at it.

If this consensus is true, challenge yourself today to focus on one thing? Can you do it for 30 days non-stop? Or challenge yourself further and do it for 66 days to form a habit? Everyone is different and there is no judgment here. You deserve this, you can be one step closer to your aspirations and dreams.  You got this! I would love to hear how you get on. Have a wonderful week ahead.

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x