Instead of developing the discipline to resist temptations, you can just change your habits. A habit is something you do automatically, without thinking. For instance, if you want to go to the gym each day, turn it into a habit. At first, you will need self-discipline to overcome the resistance you feel to doing the habit. Still, you do need some amount of self-discipline to start building new habits and changing existing ones. Instead, you should focus on changing your identity.
The idea is that if you want to change what you do , you first need to change who you are. If you can change your identity, then it will be much easier to change your behavior. This can make you feel miserable if you do it enough. Why does this technique work? In many cases, this tendency is detrimental to our well-being. You can learn more about consistency bias in our article on the principles of influence.
Wanting to develop self-discipline is great, but why are you doing it in the first place? Instead, I recommend having a concrete reason. What change will greater self-discipline bring about in your life?
Maybe you want to resist unhealthy foods, quit smoking, or drink less alcohol. Maybe you want to work out more often or eat better to have more energy. Or perhaps you want the discipline to learn a new skill. Whatever the reason, you need to articulate it. Here are a few places to consider:. Just as you build muscle when you consistently lift weights, your self-discipline muscles will get stronger the more you exercise them. To exercise your self-discipline muscles, I recommend a regular practice that will push you out of your comfort zone and accustom you to avoiding the path of least resistance.
Personally, I build self-discipline by doing some kind of exercise each morning. Usually, this means either a long bike ride or going bouldering. But it could also be as simple as some calisthenics or a long walk.
14 Ways to Improve Your Self-Discipline
Specifically, you need to take care of your biological fundamentals:. Why is this?
The part of your brain that controls executive functioning which regulates your desires and impulses requires adequate energy and rest to function at its peak. Energy comes from regular exercise and good nutrition, while rest comes from getting enough sleep. Always consult a professional if you have health questions or concerns. What if I told you that the key to improving your self-discipline was sitting still for a few minutes a day while focusing on your breath?
In a study , Stanford researchers found that undergoing meditation training increased mindfulness, boosted happiness, and improved emotional regulation. This points to meditation as a promising technique for boosting your self-discipline, since regulating your emotions is key to acting in line with your thoughts as opposed to your feelings.
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There are lots of ways you can get started with meditation. You can try the app Headspace , which offers daily guided meditations for things like relieving stress and boosting focus. You can also check out one of the many guided meditation videos on YouTube, or even listen to a guided meditation podcast. Perhaps the simplest method, however, is just to sit with your eyes closed for a few minutes and focus on your breath. As your attention wanders which it will , work to bring your focus back to your breath.
At first, the exercise will seem boring and pointless. Earlier in this article, I explained how habits are different from self-discipline and in many cases, more important for changing your behavior. However, the process of building a new habit is a great exercise for building self-discipline. The result of building new habits, then, is a win-win.
Have you ever heard the quote, "Self-discipline is the difference between choosing what you want now and choosing what you want most"? It's a quote that tons of people in the business world follow religiously in order to get exactly what they most desire from their companies. It's a theory that many people use to get themselves out of bed to get to the gym before going to work.
It's a mantra that athletes use to do that last set of squats, even though their legs are burning and they want nothing more than to quit. But its message of endurance and self-denial is perfect for those students looking to gain an edge on their competition by acing the ACT in order to get into the college or university of their dreams or those students who simply want to score their highest on their midterm or final exams.
If we are relating this to studying, it means that we need to stop doing certain things or start doing certain things while studying in order to get the positive results we crave. Regulating ourselves in this way is incredibly important because it can build self-esteem. When we achieve the goals we set for ourselves, we get a boost of confidence which can improve many aspects of our lives.
Self-discipline is the easiest when things that distract you from your studies are out of sight, out of earshot, and out the window, if necessary.
The fastest way to refresh your self-discipline and enhance your success at work
If you find yourself tempted by external distractions like your cell phone, then by all means, turn the thing completely off. Nothing is going to happen in the 45 minutes that you are going to sit down to study more on that in a minute that cannot wait until you have a scheduled break. Also, take the time to remove the clutter from your study area if clutter makes you crazy. Unpaid bills, notes to yourself of things you need to accomplish, letters or even pictures can pull your focus off your studies and into places it does not belong when you are trying to learn how to write a stellar essay for the Enhanced ACT test.
Forcing ourselves to give up what we want in the now for what we want later physically zaps our reserves of glucose, which is the brain's favorite fuel. So, before we ever sit down to study, we need to be sure to indulge in some brain foods like scrambled eggs, a little bit of dark chocolate, maybe even a jolt of caffeine to make sure that our glucose is steady enough to NOT drive us away from the learning we're trying to do. There is never a perfect time to begin studying for your test. Your friends will beg you to go out to the movies to see the final showing of the season's top film.
Your family members will need to be driven on errands or your parents will need you to finish cleaning your room. Imagine that you are sitting at your desk.
Behind you is an intruder with a weapon pointed at your head. If the only thing between life and saying goodbye to the world as you know it was studying for the next several hours with scheduled breaks , could you do it? Of course, you could! Nothing in the world would mean more than your life at that moment.
So, if you could do it then—drop everything and give studying everything you have in you—then you can do it in the safety of your own bedroom or library when the stakes aren't quite that high. It's all about mental strength.
What Is Self Discipline And How To Build More Of It
Give yourself a pep-talk. Tell yourself, "I have to do this. Everything depends on it.