How to Discipline Yourself
Do you have a habit of putting certain things off until the last minute? Do you find it hard to stick to most things you plan to do? Maybe you want to do something more regularly, like studying for an upcoming test or working out in the gym. Whichever area(s) are lacking discipline, try not to lose heart. Fixing this issue starts with making a plan to improve your discipline.
Taking Action to Be More Self-Disciplined
Think about why you want to discipline yourself.Is there a particular goal you're trying to achieve but you feel certain obstacles are getting in the way? Maybe you want to become an early riser, but have a habit of sleeping really late. Maybe your once-stellar musical skills are deteriorating because of lack of practice. Or perhaps you're trying to lose weight, but don't like to exercise. Set some time aside to think through this so that you can narrow down your goal-setting.
Visualize your goal.Visualization is key to successful goal-setting. For one, you must think clearly about your goals and clarify what they look like. Then, you must surround yourself - either physically or mentally - with these goals.
- One specific form of visualization that has been shown to be very effective at helping you reach goals is called process simulation. This tactic involves envisioning yourself taking the necessary steps to accomplish a goal, rather than just imagining the end result.
- Other ways to practice visualization can be done through daily meditation or by creating a vision board of your goals.
Create an action plan.This can be done in table form, either by hand or by using a PC package such as MS Word or Excel. Don't worry about filling it in at this point. That's next! Consider adding a relevant goal title at the top of this form, such asWorkout Regularly. After doing that add the following column headings in sequence:
- Time to Begin
- Potential Problems
- Strategies to Overcome Potential Problems
- Progress Report
- Once done, fill in the column boxes under the appropriate headings.
Prepare to take action and decide when to begin.Actions will be the steps you must attempt to work towards your goal. After you come up with some meaningful action steps. think of a time to start your new self-discipline goal.
- Your action steps could be anything from limiting time spent on unproductive activities that keep you from completing your workout, or making sure your gym clothes are already laid out the night before.
- If thinking of ideas is something you are finding difficult, brainstorming is a helpful technique for this. You might also find that asking a family relative, friend or someone else you know useful. It's likely that you will think of multiple actions, for which you will need to include multiple rows. Take as much time as you need, and include everything you can think of.
- You might plan to start today, tomorrow or a later time in the week/month. Keep your plan realistic by taking into account any time restrictions. For example, if the action happens to be "Work out each day at 6am"you are unlikely to find it helpful to work towards this goal today if it's already afternoon by the time you've thought of it.
Anticipate potential problems and strategize to overcome them.Consider any difficulties that are likely to occur with the action steps in your plan and devise a plan to handle them as they happen. For example, if you decided to pick the"Work out each day at 6am"action but know it's a pretty sure thing that when the alarm goes off you're only going to press the "snooze" button and give in to the temptation to doze off again then you could jot down something like "I'll just fall asleep again" .
- Alternatively, you can think of solutions which have worked well at some stage in the past. However, if you know deep down something is highly unlikely to work as a strategy from past experience (for example, promising yourself you will talk yourself into getting up early next time when this has already failed on a number of occasions) - discard the idea.
- By trying to re-use methods which already have not worked, you're setting yourself up for disappointment. Move on to other ideas. For instance, it's possible that setting your alarm clock some distance away from where you sleep could be more successful in waking you up as it takes more effort to switch it off.
Update your progress report regularly and review the plan.Start your actions and implement your decided problem solving strategies at the planned times. When carrying them out, make a note of the date and whether or not the result was successful. Once the time period for your plan elapses, look through the progress comments you logged during that time.
- When reviewing your plan think about what parts went well and what didn't go so well. For the things that didn't go well, ask yourself if there is anything useful you can learn from the experience(s) to move you towards your goals and incorporate this into your plan for next time.
- If you have not learned anything useful from the experience, drop the current strategy and try an alternative. Return to the earlier suggested methods and think up new ideas, if you are struggling with this.
Reframe your mistakes.Even if you totally bombed your first attempt, it's worth it to keep pushing towards reaching your goal of becoming more self-disciplined. But, growing will require reframing mistakes into learning opportunities. Just don't give up!
- Researchers found that there are two potential brain responses to making mistakes: immediately strive to problem-solve or shut down. People who pay attention to their mistakes are more likely to learn new ways of correcting them in the future. People who overlook (i.e. or shut down neurologically) their mistakes do not change or improve them. Be sure to look closely at where you're lacking and think of how you can improve in the future.
Promoting Self-Discipline Each Day
Don't put yourself down for lacking discipline.Knocking yourself for this is unlikely to help, as it's most likely it'll make you feel de-motivated and possibly even depressed (depending on the extent this habit has affected your life). Instead, bear in mind that it's not unusual to feel undisciplined and that this is an ability that can be both learned and mastered. It's just likely to take time, as with trying anything new.
- A survey from 2011 revealed that approximately 27 percent of respondents felt they needed help with self-control and willpower.However, most respondents have hope that they can get better in this area.
Nurture yourself.Self-control can be a limited resource capable of being depleted. Certain situations can make your self-discipline waver more than others. For example, being sleep-deprived can cause you to make poor decisions and even overeat. Nourishing your mind, body, and soul should help you on your journey to better self-discipline.
- Eat well-balanced meals. Ensure that you have between 3 and 5 small meals a day that include a variety of vegetables, fruits, lean protein, and whole grains. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
- Get regular exercise.Maintain a consistent level of physical activity while you are undertaking your self-discipline goals. Exercise not only puts you in a positive mood but gives you energy and motivation to accomplish tasks.
- Work to reduce stress. Being stressed can take a toll on your productivity and overall health. Minimize stress by getting enough sleep, practicing self-care activities like a soothing bath or a walk in the park, or perform relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga. If you are a spiritual person, performing rituals such as prayer can also help you manage stressful situations.
Motivate yourself daily.That's why the best way to get better at accomplishing goals is by forming habits. The bookThe Power of Habit' explains that habits are processed in the brain in the same area as automatic reflexes rather than through the prefrontal cortex which regulates decision-making.In the beginning, you will require constant motivation to perform acts of self-discipline until these acts become habitual and don't require any conscious thought.
- Strategies to motivate yourself can include reading inspirational quotes or books, watching uplifting podcasts or Ted Talks, and talking on the phone to a person who inspires you. Do this in the morning - or as needed - for greater enthusiasm for difficult tasks.
QuestionWhat if an assignment takes too long?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerFocus until you're done. Browse through notes, and be patient with yourself. Remember that no matter how long it takes, it will be finished if you just keep on going.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I get help if I'm suicidal?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerCall the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Someone is available to talk and give you help and support 24/7. It gets better.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I stay calm?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAllow yourself to learn positive attitude to reaffirm the right thoughts so you can cultivate calmness.Thanks!
QuestionWhat should I do if I can't maintain discipline?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf you can't maintain discipline, do not force yourself. Just apply it everyday and little by little discipline will become your new habit.Thanks!
QuestionWhat can I do to stop myself from procrastinating or forgetting about tasks?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerSet yourself reminders for events, and keep a diary as well. Write down anything you have to do, then set a reminder for it on a phone or, for a big event, a calendar.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I not forget to discipline myself?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTry writing down some notes about whatever you're trying to do and leaving them where you will see them often, like on the fridge, on your desk, etc. You can also set reminders on your phone.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I abstain from negative thoughts through self-discipline?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerPractice cognitive therapy. It is most effective if you write out your work. For instance, write down one of the negative thoughts you have noticed bothering you. Using basic knowledge of cognitive distortions and simple logic, correct that thought and write down its replacement, which will be a more reasonable and positive thought. Then the next time that negative thought comes rolling through your mind, say STOP, and use your new go-to thought. Research backs these kind of exercises up.Thanks!
QuestionHow can be a self-disciplined person?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerJust try to stay calm and focused, and maintain positivity in what you are doing.Thanks!
QuestionWhat do you do if you don't have enough time to do what you need to do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerSchedule the things you need to do: work, eat, sleep, exercise. Schedule the remaining time in your day to take care of the things that will take very little time to do first. Next, do the highest-priority items. With any time remaining, work on the other items on your list. Be sure to take a short break every hour to stretch, have a glass of water, and regain your concentration and focus.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is the first step I should take to start changing my life?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerRemove temptations and distractions from your environment so you can stay focused.Thanks!
I used to be disciplined but I've lost it lately. I don't know why. How do I regain it?
How can I self discipline for feeling guilty with myself for not pleasing my partner?
- Take into consideration your bad habits, such as overuse of TV, computer, internet, spending too much time playing video games, etc. and that will help you manage your time better and you will have more of it left to do productive things.
- Action based goals are good. Instead of having losing 20 pounds as a goal why not have workout daily as a goal?
- Track your progress daily as this will show you how much work you have already completed and motivate you to push forward.
- Don't expect overnight changes.
- Be patient with yourself as you cultivate new habits.
Sources and Citations
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