Why Do I Struggle to Sustain Self-Discipline?
Do you find it really hard to motivate yourself to start what you know you should be doing? Or have you embarked on a positive habit before and a few days later, dropped it all together? Do you feel you lack the self-discipline required to break a weakening negative habit in your life? Do you get frustrated because you feel you have great ideas without great willpower or discipline to crystallize them into reality? Do you find it difficult to sustain passion and focus on what you consider to be your most important goals in life?
Whether it is writing a book, losing weight, starting an exercise program, preparing adequately for an examination, stopping smoking, quitting drinking, or anything else, one thing is needed – self-discipline. Self-discipline is the fundamental key to success.
But here is something you must understand about discipline. Discipline is never an end by itself, but a means to an end. The purpose of discipline is to birth a habit. Discipline is a means to an end – whereas habit is that end result. We are creatures of habits. Hidden within every human is the capability to form multiple habits. So everyone has what it takes to cultivate a habit, good or bad.
I must say, though, that humans usually find it easier to form bad habits than it is to form positive habits. Why? This is because negative habits often start as defense mechanisms or distractions for other emotional challenges, such as low self-esteem, fear of rejection or failure, anxiety, stress, depression, just to mention a few.
But here is the fact: if you can perpetuate a negative habit, you can also perpetuate a positive and use it to achieve your desired goals. The difference between where you are right now and the result you want to get in an important area of your life is a habit. In other words, you are always a positive habit away from your desired outcome.
Maybe this is a common question to you: “Why is it that I don’t seem to form a positive habit easily?” The answer is not because of your lack of capability. Rather, more often than not, it is a combination of established limiting beliefs and ingrained self-defeating habits – which must, first of all, be dealt with. Simply put, the old negative habits and mindsets are resisting and overriding your proposed new ones. But the good news is this; you can change your mind-set for the better if you want it badly enough and are willing to pay the price.
Nobody becomes a heavy weight champion overnight. It takes patience, persistence and perspiration. These are the basic philosophies for building healthy self-discipline. In my practice, the first thing I do with my clients who want to break negative habits, such as excessive worrying, smoking, addictions, pornography etc., is to ascertain how badly they really want to be free from their debilitating habits. If the will to change is strong enough the means to change will emerge.
Now, if you are ready to cultivate self-discipline, which is an essential ingredient in the success equation, below are 7 steps to help you in this awesome journey.
7 Golden Steps To Self-Discipline
1) Expose your mind to positive messages. Feed your mind with motivational and inspirational messages daily (audios, videos or books). You will eventually become what you read or hear about all the time. So stop reading pointless books or watching unhelpful TV programs. Whatever is not contributing to your goals is merely eating up your valuable time and attention. Focus on changing the way you think through quality motivational messages, and you will change the course of your life.
A few things happen in your mind when you are exposed to motivational messages. The first thing is that your self-esteem improves. And because of that, you feel a lot better about yourself – as all the self-doubts and inferiority complex have been raked out.
Secondly, it induces your mind with courage to face your fears, since one of the reasons people quit pursuing their dreams is fear of failure. Positive messages from great motivational/ inspirational speakers will train your mind to see fear not as a stopping stone, but as a stepping stone to your accomplishments. the quality of your courage and determination to succeed will be decided by the quality of your learning.
2) Hang out with positive people. If all your friends lack self-discipline, you will struggle to have one yourself. “The quality of your life will always be the average of your 4 to 5 closest friends,” said Jim Rohn. If you desire great self-discipline, look for friends who are positive, goal-oriented and result-driven. You can also join a master-mind group, hanging out with like-minded people where you can be exposed to the struggles of others in a similar situation and how they are making progress. Such encouragement is invaluable to your motivation and determination to succeed. You begin to think, “If they can do it, I too can.”
3) Determine how badly you want your desired goal. If your “WHY” is strong enough, you will have the strength to follow through on “WHAT” you need to do to create your desired goal. For example, if the reason you want to stop smoking is to be alive long enough for the benefit of your children and you really want that badly, this strong desire will assist you to break the habit of smoking.
4) Visualize yourself as having the self-discipline required to achieve your goal. Engage the power of visualization. See yourself as having the self-discipline and habits necessary to link you to your goals. If you can vividly paint a picture of you on the surface of your imagination and sustain it long enough, that picture will become your reality. Man is what he thinks about all the time. Do not see yourself as you are, but as you desire to be. Napoleon Hill said, “Whatever a mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”
5) Set small and achievable goals. To begin with, make your goal very small, small enough for you to be able to complete it. For example if you want to write a book, set a goal to start writing short articles, maybe once a week on your chosen topic (probably related to the subject you desire to write a book on), and ensure is not more than 300 words. Keep it short and simple. Once you collect many little successes of completion, your brain begins to redesign itself, marking you on as a completer and someone who enjoys the victory of completion. As your brain rewrites your personal history, your mind also develops strong positive mental muscles, and then your self-confidence improves – all of which will eventually strengthen you to achieve your bigger goals.
6) Become accountable to somebody. This is one of the most powerful tools for high productivity. Telling someone about what you want to achieve and asking them to keep you accountable will not only unlock a river of passion in you, it will also force you to become result oriented which is a valuable key to success.
7) Get to work. Take action. After you have observed all the above steps, it is time to take action. Write down what you really want, and why. Then create achievable daily small steps towards reaching your goal. You must understand, however, that it will be hard at the start. But once a habit is formed, it becomes easier. What you want to do is to persevere and be courageous. Psychologists said, a habit is often formed between 21 to 30 days of continuous and uninterrupted actions. So, never stop until you do not feel like stopping anymore. When that happens, a positive habit has been born.
I will leave you with the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.” You are always as successful as the magnitude of fear you are willing to conquer.
Keep on living, loving and learning and I will see you at the TOP.
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