- Motivation doesn’t last forever but Self-discipline can. It’s natural to feel motivated and inspired for days weeks or even months. But eventually, you’re going to experience some dips and slumps in that motivation. And that’s completely normal. And I experienced the same thing over the last five years or so. I’ve noticed a pattern where I’m super motivated. And usually for about 11 months of the year. Then one month of the year I’ll lose that motivation. And honestly, it’s usually triggered by some kind of personal problem.
- It may be a death in the family or something like that. And that event triggers me to be demotivated for a good few weeks and after a few weeks. I’ll get back to my normal level of motivation. So what happens when you’re lacking in motivation .that’s when self-discipline takes over. But you’re probably struggling with self-discipline which is why you’ve clicked on this article. And it’s unsurprising because in a 2011 stress in America survey. 27 % of people believe a lack of self-discipline is the biggest barrier to improving their life. And in this article, I’m going to go through 13 ways that you can master self-discipline.
- Specifically, if you’re a student most methods which I’ve not mentioned on this website before. And a quick disclaimer. I’m always saying this your mental and physical health comes first. So if you’re feeling unmotivated because of depression or PTSD or medical illnesses like that .then this article probably isn’t for you. But if you’re just feeling a bit uninspired or regularly having problems with procrastination then hopefully this article will help you out.
1) The five-second rule for Self-discipline.
- Our brains are wired to keep us alive. That’s why we often have a fight or flight response in dangerous situations. We usually have a small window to react to something that makes us uncomfortable before our brain registers what is happening. And starts to convince us that we should move away from the danger and giving us a reason why we shouldn’t do it.
- So for example when you need to study you might find yourself overthinking it and putting it off. And the more you put your studying off the more your brain can convince you that you shouldn’t study .whereas when you needed to study. If you followed the five-second rule. And counted to five and straight away sat down at your desk to study. Just that one action of counting to five could save you hours of procrastination.
- Mel Robbins talks quite a lot about the five-second rule and how you implement it. “ if I didn’t move within five seconds. My brain would step in and talk me out of it. Every human being has a five-second window. Might even be shorter for you .you have about a five-second window in which you can move from idea to action before your brain kicks into full gear. And sabotages any behaviour change. Because remember your brain is wired to stop you from doing things. Which are uncomfortable or uncertain or scary.
2) Start small To develop Self-discipline.
- When you first start to work on improving your self-discipline. It’s often best to start small with one small habit at a time. Trying to do too much at once can be overwhelming and you’re less likely to stick to a new habit in the long term. It’s like when people make their new year’s resolutions. If you set five new year’s resolutions .it’s unlikely you’ll be able to stick to all five until the end of the year. but if you only set one. Then your chance of keeping it at the end of the year is far greater.
- So one of the habits that I had in the last year was when my alarm went off. I would lie in bed for 30 minutes. Usually reading the news going through social media checking emails that kind of thing. So to make my day that bit more productive. I reduced that time from 30 minutes to 15 minutes .therefore as soon as my alarm went off within 15 minutes of it going off. I will be out of bed and be getting ready to leave the house .it’s just a small change but it’s a change that makes every day that bit more productive .and those 15 minutes add up.
3) The power of free rule.
- Write down three of the most important tasks that you need to accomplish that day. They should be the three things that if you completed them .they would have the biggest positive impact on your life. While free tasks may not seem like a lot. They’ll be far more attainable than having a long task list with dozens of tasks to do .and once you’ve finished your three most important tasks. You’ll have built up momentum throughout the day and you’ll feel more motivated to keep going.
- It’s a really simple idea but it’s so easy to get sidetracked on other things that need doing that might not be as important. We often assume productivity means getting as much done as possible in one day. But productivity is about getting the important things done consistently. It’s about maintaining a steady average speed on a few things not maximizing speed on everything.
4) Delayed gratification
- Being patient is one of the most important ways to build self-discipline .especially in a world where we expect things to happen immediately. For example, if I order something online on amazon. I can receive it on the same day. The problem with living like this is that we expect immediate changes to happen instantly. We want our grades to improve right now. We want success right now .and when that doesn’t happen we want to abandon it. This is also known as the instant gratification trap. And is extremely destructive when you’re trying to build your self-discipline.
- It’s tempting to log into social media while you’re studying .and you’ll eventually no doubt end up procrastinating. But it’s important to remember the bigger picture. And the reason why you’re studying. Instant gratification is when you sacrifice your long-term goals for short-term pleasure. And the more you’re aware of this the stronger your self-discipline will be. You’ve probably heard of the marshmallow experiment. Where a group of children are individually given a marshmallow. And the researcher tells them if they can leave the marshmallow alone for one minute. Then after that one minute, they will receive two marshmallows. But if they eat the marshmallow straight away then they won’t receive another.
- theoretical physicist Michio Kaku realized that “delayed gratification is one of the biggest determinants of whether or not someone will be successful in the future. You say to yourself well that’s a test for kids. But then you track them, decade by decade by decade. And then you find out oh my god these are the ones who go to college. the ones who hold out for that advanced degree that don’t want that simple payoff now. But are going to delay gratification into the future. And so I realized that that’s the key to success in life, not just science.”
- imagine how it will feel when it comes to results day .and you open up your grades and you see you’ve achieved well over what you’re expecting. Imagine how it will feel on graduation day or after you graduate. And you land that scholarship or you’re accepted into one of the most prestigious universities in the country. A good way of actively practising this is to grab a pen and paper and write down a list of all the things you gain when you stick to your goals. And the next time you’re feeling vulnerable to procrastination spend a few minutes reading over the list. And if you want to take this one step further. On the other side of the paper. You can write down the results if you continue to procrastinate. Failed exams, failing the year, and having to retake it or not being accepted into your chosen university.
6) Recover from your mistakes to Gain Self-discipline.
- We all give in to procrastination now and then. But it’s important that if you do have a particularly unproductive day. Then you don’t dwell on it too much. Move on quickly. Remember that the next day is a completely fresh start. And create an action plan so that you don’t have another unproductive day. Progress doesn’t usually come in a straight line. And just because you had an unproductive day. It doesn’t mean that you’re a failure. Making mistakes is all part of the process to become a better and stronger person. The way you recover from those unproductive days is what matters the most. As American football coach Hermann Edwards once said “ stay focused your start does not determine how you’re going to finish”.
- learn from your mistakes and do better next time. And eventually, as you keep learning from your mistakes and you keep making incremental improvements over the long run. Your self-discipline over the year will greatly improve.
7) Schedule relaxation time.
- we often end up procrastinating because we have more fun and interesting things to do like scrolling through youtube or social media or watching another series on Netflix or playing video games. At the same time, we also need that relaxation and downtime .instead of taking this downtime when you should be studying .schedule it either in the middle of the day or even better at the end of the day. When all your studying has been done. It will give you something to look forward to once you have completed all your studies. You’ll feel far more motivated to study. When you realize that by the end of it you’ll be rewarded.
8) Manage your thoughts.
- On a typical day, you might have hundreds of thoughts bouncing around your mind. And some of them might be negative, self-critical, dismissive or focus on your insecurities. You must keep these negative and potentially destructive thoughts in check. And that goes the same for those thoughts that can eventually lead you down the rabbit hole of procrastination. We tend to function far better and can build self-discipline .when we feel that we are in control. When we feel that we are in control of our thoughts and our actions. And if you believe that things are beyond your control. Then they probably will be.
- But if you believe that you can fend off daydreaming and distractions when you’re studying. Then you probably can too. And if you wake up in the morning and you have the feeling of wanting to hit the snooze button. Firstly it’s important to realize that what you’re doing. And that hitting the snooze button can be destructive to your overall productivity that day. And stop that thought before it becomes an action. Because once you realize that you are much bigger than your thoughts. It’s an incredibly powerful mindset to have.
9) Make Self-discipline automatic.
- as many temptations as possible to make your discipline automatic.if you struggle to wake up and go to the gym in the morning. Then lay your gym clothes out next to your bed the night before. The idea is that there are as few barriers as possible between you waking up and arriving at the gym .and the same goes for studying. i often hide my phone behind my laptop when I’m working. So it’s less likely to distract me. Especially when I get a notification pop-up out of sight out of mind. When you remove all temptations from your environment it’s far easier to become more disciplined and more sustainable. The key to becoming more disciplined is to set up your life in a way. Where discipline isn’t required as much.
10) Become super organized.
- by becoming super organized you’re far less likely to give in to decision fatigue. When your desk space around you is organized. Your mind becomes more relaxed. And you’re able to focus better as a result. Which as a result makes it much more likely that you’re able to stay disciplined throughout the day. Because discipline is a finite resource. It starts high but slowly decreases throughout the day. At some point during the day, our minds are simply far less likely to make the right choices as we become more and more tired. And Mark Zuckerberg is a great example of this he wears the same t-shirt every day. Meaning there’s one less decision that is needed to make. And one less problem draining his mental resource.
11) Enjoy what you do.
- if you find yourself struggling with discipline .when it comes to studying. Then make your studying more fun. So that you don’t need the discipline to study anymore. This could involve studying with a friend or a small group of people. Turning your study notes into a song .snacking on brain food while you’re studying. Or changing your study environment to a library or coffee shop.
- I made an article recently on this exact topic. 13 ways to make studying more fun.
12) Daily journal for Self-discipline
- tony robbins have said that he has journaled for over 40 years. And continues to write in his journal to this day. He’s mentioned a few times. Where it’s during his journal sessions, where he finally found out his vision. And He made changes to Gain success. So journaling can help you to stay consistent by keeping track of what has worked and what you need to spend more time improving. It’s a way of measuring your performance and measuring your self-discipline. And it’s really easy for us to decrease in productivity .but not realize it. And like Peter Drucker said, ‘What gets measured gets managed’.
13) Eliminates but from your vocabulary.
- The one thing that’s holding many people back from having incredibly strong self-discipline is their buts. It’s easy to make up excuses and come up with reasons why we shouldn’t do something. If we don’t have a strong enough desire within ourselves to do it. Author and business consultant Ken Blanchard wrote “ there’s a difference between interest and commitment.
- When you’re interested in doing something. You do it when it’s convenient. When you’re committed to something. You accept no excuses, only results”. So commit yourself to study. Make it a priority in your life .because once you do that your self-discipline will automatically increase.
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