The Greek philosopher Plato said that “The first and greatest victory is to conquer yourself.” Plato is referring to self-discipline.
That’s just as true today as it was nearly 2500 years ago when Plato said it.
If you can control yourself and you can focus on what’s important and remove distractions then there is nothing to stop you from achieving what you want.
Once you’ve mastered yourself, you can master anything.
But, developing that self-discipline is a battle unto itself.
That’s where the dirty work is done.
The good news is that you have it in you to do it.
You just have to be a little bit better, a little more disciplined every day to see results.
Every journey starts with the first step.
What Is Self-Discipline?
Self-discipline is simply the ability to command yourself. A person who has self-discipline has command of their emotions and their actions. They are able to focus on what they want to accomplish and eliminate distractions to reach goals they have set.
Why Is Self-Discipline Important?
There is a myriad of reasons why self-discipline is important.
Everyone has the same amount of hours in a day.
Those with self-discipline is able to make the most of their hours. They are able to accomplish more.
Plus, the are able to lay their head down at night knowing they were able to max out their day. That leads to more self-fulfillment in their lives on top of more success.
Discipline leads to progress and progress leads to happiness.
Characteristics Of Self-Discipline
Self-disciplined people are going to have many of the same attributes. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from, the characteristics of self-discipline are universal.
Exceptional Time Management
We only have so many hours in the day. And most of our days are filled with commitments to others; work, family, you name it.
The self-disciplined plan their day out to allow time for themselves.
Often times, that planning starts the night before or at the beginning of the week. It may sound like work, but it’s not. It may take a few minutes to do the night before for the following day, or if you’re planning out your week, it may take 10 minutes. You can get by with plotting out your day on a post-it note.
You know your schedule better than anyone else.
And it doesn’t matter if their goals are running a marathon or working on a side hustle. You need to find the time.
Even if it means waking up early.
This planning time is non-negotiable and is protected.
Remember, you have goals for a reason. You want to accomplish something. That’s important, so defend your time.
Ability To Focus
Distraction is the enemy of success. And unfortunately, our world is full of distractions.
This is the battleground. How do you overcome distractions to focus on what needs to be done?
Self-discipline manifests self-confidence. People who have self-confidence are comfortable in their skin. They know who they are and what they’re capable of.
They are comfortable with being uncomfortable. Many people are afraid of uncertainty. They become anxious and stressed. The self-disciplined person is confident and calm. Since they have an innate understanding of themselves, the unknown isn’t as daunting to them.
They are passionate. You have to be to make sacrifices. You have to believe in a bigger goal and a better you to know that you have to put off short-term pleasure for long-term, life-changing wins.
Let’s think about a typical Tuesday. Maybe you have to get up early to get ready for work and get the kids off to school.
Then there is everything else that comes along with your day. Commuting, work, grabbing something for lunch, errands, then back home to make dinner and be with your family or friends.
Your Tuesday has nearly vanished and you didn’t get any time for yourself.
Days like this can snowball and the next thing you know, if you’re not careful, your week is gone.
How do you find the time or more importantly make time for yourself?
Eat The Frog
We’ve talked about this technique before, but basically the term comes from Mark Twain. Twain said that if the first thing you did every day was to eat a frog, your day could only get better from there.
So take the thing you are dreading doing the most and knock it out first thing.
Eating the frog does two things.
- 1 It stops procrastination.
- 2 You get relief and energy. Once that weight is lifted off your shoulders, you get a boost and are able to focus on other things. Plus you get an early win to your day. And you should always count your wins.
Break Big Goals Down Into Little Steps
Let’s say your goal is to run a marathon in 12 months. You don’t start off by trying to run 26.2 miles. That would be crazy and you would stick to that goal for 1 day or maybe 2.
No, you would start off slow. You start with running whatever you’re comfortable with and work your way up.
Big dreams are great. You should have a bunch of them, but don’t think you can accomplish them all at once.
Have a plan based on your knowledge and time and abilities.
Baby steps add up.
Start small and as you get further along in your journey, those steps will naturally get a little bigger.
Embrace The Sacrifice
This comes down to having a goal that’s big enough and important enough to make sacrifices for.
Because if you don’t, it’ll never happen for you.
Sacrifices are hard. And if you have to keep making them, which in most cases you will the more they weigh on you.
Once the sacrifices become harder and harder to make the further you get away from your dream.
Keep Your Eye On The Prize
Constantly remind yourself why you are doing this. This is a journey.
Maybe a long one. It’s easy to lose focus. You can’t let that happen.
Well, there are plenty of ideas that you can implement easily and daily.
- Find a calm, quiet place. Pick a good spot. You want to remove as many distractions as you can. This is an easy win.
- Clean Up. Clutter leads to anxiety. Anxiety will kill your ability to focus. So straighten your house or your desk or make your bed. It doesn’t matter where you are, take steps to improve the feel of the place.
- Pomodoro Technique. This method has been a game-changer for me. It was developed by an Italian student named Francesco Cirillo who used it to study for school. Basically, the Pomodoro Technique breaks down work into intervals. So I break an hour down into 45 minutes of focused work with a 15-minute break. If I don’t have an hour, I can adjust accordingly.
So if I have 2 hours in the evening to work I can get 90 minutes of work. I’m happy with that. Try to find the time frame that works for you.
By the way, it’s called the Pomodoro Techniques because of the tomato timer Cirillo used to time himself.
Pomodoro is the word for tomato in Italian.
Take a moment and calm down and catch your breath. You have to work on shifting your focus from what you were just doing to what you want to do now.
This doesn’t take long. Maybe 5 minutes. Take some deep breaths and remind yourself what needs to get down and why you need to get it done. Then start.
Remind Yourself Of Why You Are Doing This
You are making sacrifices. These sacrifices need to be made for a reason.
This is just a little reminder of what you want to achieve.
When the hard times start it’s always nice to remember why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Listen To Your Body
The constant hustle and grind of self-discipline are vital to achieving what you want, but wearing yourself out to the point that you are mentally or even physically frayed, is no good.
It’s okay to unplug sometimes and have a night or a weekend to rest and relax or catch up with friends and family.
You still have a life.
It’s okay to put this goal aside for a little bit to recharge your batteries.
Don’t run yourself down. If you do, you won’t be as effective and efficient as you need to be.
“A disciplined mind leads to happiness, and an undisciplined mind leads to suffering.” – Dalai Lama
“With self-discipline, most anything is possible.” – Theodore Roosevelt
“Self-command is the main discipline.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” – Marcus Aurelius
“One painful duty fulfilled makes the next plainer and easier.” – Hellen Keller
You Don’t Lack Motivation, You Lack Determination
Everyone has motivation inside them. Some a lot, some a little. Everyone has dreams and goals. Maybe they want to lose weight or learn a new language or make more money.
It doesn’t matter what the goal is. It’s a wish without determination.
It’s the tide crashing on the shore and then vanishing just as quickly as it arrived.
Don’t think of yourself as the tide. Think of yourself as the shore.
Constantly there day after day. A wave may come and go but you won’t.
It might get lonely. And that’s going to be something you have to work through. It’s your life. Your singular life. Only you can live it. You have to rely on yourself. Learn about yourself in those lonely times.
People might tell you it’s a waste of time or it’ll never happen. To hell with those people.
Make a mental note and keep grinding.
Nobody ever said being self-disciplined was going to be easy. It’s really hard.
Remind yourself of that.
However, once self-discipline is learned, it becomes a habit that will benefit you every single day.