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The Beginner’s Guide to Mastering Self-Discipline
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There is a lot of motivational content going around on the internet intended to enable people to get off their butts and do some work. We have YouTube videos, blogs, podcasts, and more! Ironically, the jolt of energy given by all of this content lasts for a day or so until the person finds themselves looking for another dose of inspiration.
The concept of motivation has always been presented as the recipe for success. The passion that makes you wake up in the morning and check off your to-do list. But let’s be real, we as humans are inconsistent beings. You cannot expect emotional beings like us to feel the same level of enthusiasm every single day. That being said, if you wait around for motivation to come to your rescue, you will be waiting for a long time.
The single most important ingredient for success is self-discipline.Now we all know what it is. Self-discipline is a regulatory action imposed on the self, by the self, and for the self. Here we are accountable to ourselves for our actions. Mastering self-discipline or self-control can be new for many people, which makes the art a little out of reach.
We have been conditioned to be answerable to an external authority since our childhood, either to a teacher, parent, or behaving under certain external norms. However, when no one is watching us, we would like to get comfortable on our couch and live to our heart’s pleasures.
One of the major challenges I faced after the completion of grad school was having the liberty to live life on my terms. I was free to do whatever I wanted with my life. I could take a break and sit at home, get a job, travel, have a change of career, or opt for any other way of living. There were no due dates, deadlines, or submissions. This freedom was both enthralling and frightening. I would be the sole claimer of what I make of myself.
Now you see, it is easier to control other people but self-discipline is a whole other story. You either become too lenient with yourself or extremely self-critical. Either you fall in the traps of procrastination or perfection. Self-discipline is neither of those things. Self-discipline is an amalgamation of the firmness of an authority with the support and love for self.
“I could only achieve success in my life through self-discipline, and I applied it until my wish and my will became one.” – Nikola Tesla
Here is the beginner’s guide to mastering self-discipline and walking the path of success:
1. Follow the 4S Rule (Start Small, Start Slow)
I have seen so many people plunge their willpower to death by setting their initial goals over-ambitiously. Just like learning any other skill, the art of self-discipline requires slow, deliberate, and repeated actions. Setting unrealistic goals at the initial stage is a recipe for failure. And remember, smaller successes at the starting point is of utmost importance to set up the tone of self-discipline.
2. Create both long-term and short term goals
This leads us to the know-how of realistic goal setting. Keeping a long-term goal and subsequently dividing up smaller goals leading up to it does the trick. Just make sure your daily goals are realistic, easily measurable, and take you in the direction of achieving the final goal.
I know what you must be thinking, but yes, your Netflix subscription or that Xbox probably needs to go for a while or it might need to understand your avoidance towards it.
Understanding your triggers and cutting down the time you spend on it, if not removing it completely, is crucial. These triggers can be anything, such as video games, media entertainment, social media, music, networking, or even as innocent as books.
4. Take out time to celebrate your success
It can be extremely easy to neglect or underestimate smaller victories simply because the bigger goal is yet to be reached. However, enjoying and celebrating the smaller accomplishments will not only strengthen your willpower but will work as an affirmation to your success. These achievements are there to remind you of your competence and fuel you to keep moving forward.
5. 5-minute rule to beat procrastination
There is a technique in cognitive behavioral therapy, wherein you perform a chore for 5-minutes and then if you do not feel like continuing it, you can put a stop to it. Now, it is usually observed that once you start working on a task, more often than not, you will continue doing it even after 5 minutes. The lesson here is to remember that the key to completing a task is simply starting it.
6. The obstacle is the path
This is one of my daily affirmations whenever I confront difficulties in my work. It is only acceptable that you start questioning everything when faced with a hurdle. A gentle shift in perception will make you see the obstacle is not something to fear, but it is a growth opportunity in disguise to increase your XPs.
“Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost
7. Be your own cheerleader
There is a learning curve to every skill and the graph of success is certainly a messy one with too many ups and downs. You don’t want to be an over-critical boss to yourself. Instead, become your greatest supporter. After all, self-discipline is self-service.
8. Imperfection is the key
What I want you to do is complete the task. Trapping yourself in the loop of perfectionism will lead to stagnation. Additionally, allow yourself to have break days where you rest and do activities apart from your work.
Self-discipline, once learned, ironically, is the greatest form of freedom you will experience. There is no better time than right now. Have faith in yourself, and just START.
What’s one new thing you’ve started this year? Share it with us below!
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