Self-discipline means following your strong inner strengths to do what you know is best. This requires that you actively and carefully discipline your thoughts, words, and actions. Self-discipline is basic to all you do. It is the power to guide your thoughts, feelings, and actions in order to reach important goals.
Whether you are a dancer, a parent, a health-care professional, a student, or a teacher, your happiness and success is directly tied to your ability to discipline your thoughts and actions. Learning to strengthen your self-discipline is a lifelong process, something we are all continually working to improve, each of us in our own unique way.
An important step toward improvement is to recognize and learn from all the ways that you already successfully use your self-discipline skills. Yes, you ARE self-disciplined! You just want to get better at it! For example, most likely you wake each morning to the sound of your alarm clock facing two choices: to pull the covers back over your shoulders, roll over, and go back to sleep or get up. This is generally a tough choice for many of us most days, and curling up and going back to sleep a tempting option, but typically we resist the strong urge to hit the snooze button on the alarm and get up (often unwillingly!) so that we can accomplish the tasks set for the day. In other words, you choose to exercise self-discipline, and you continue to make such choices throughout each day. So when we talk about self-discipline, it is not that we want to learn something new. Rather, we want to strengthen our self-discipline skills, or apply them to a different area of our life or to a problem that we face.
“Developing higher levels of self-discipline demands a great deal of flexibility, creativity, and persistence.”
Here are steps to take to strengthen your self-discipline skills…
- Set a goal.
- Consider the obstacles that may try to keep you from reaching your goal, and develop steps to take to minimize their impact.
“No matter what goal you’ve set, avoid comparing yourself with others; just be the best person you can be.”
- Assume you will make mistakes, and recognize what you learn from those mistakes you do make.
- Mentally visualize yourself reaching your goal.
- Keep a journal to help you stay focused on your goal.
- Avoid procrastination. Do it now if possible!
- Challenge yourself.
- Watch the words you use. Positive statements are more motivational than negative statements. Use the “I CAN do” motto.
- Put others first, if appropriate.
- Practice patience.
- Play with your likes and dislikes. Don’t be enslaved by rigid sets of likes and dislikes. Dare to try something new and different.
- Let people finish talking. Listen carefully.
“Success is not the absence of failure, but the attainment of your goal.”
Blueprint for Self-Discipline
Carefully follow the instructions below and put your responses on paper. When finished, you will have a blueprint for self-discipline success! Post this some place where you will see it often as a reminder.
- Pinpoint your goal.
- Acknowledge your strengths.
- Focus your efforts.
- Prepare for obstacles.
- Enlist support from others.
- Use positive mental preparation.
- Practice the target skill until you master it.
Make room for those things in life that are most important, and set goals you strongly believe in. By taking small and steady steps toward your goals, and keeping a light heart while remaining flexible, and remaining patient with setbacks, your dreams may become realities! You have within you a wide array of wisdom and willpower. Expand and use your skills!
University of Kentucky, Cooperative Extension Service, Lexington, KY