“You can’t do this! You must be self-disciplined in order to become an entrepreneur!” How many times have you heard this? If you’ve had enough we’re here to tell you that self-discipline is a skill you can learn regardless of who you are. Read our article to learn how to become more disciplined by following a few simple steps.
Motivation, willpower, and now self-discipline – these seem to be the key ingredients for weight loss, getting in shape, getting the career you want, or starting a business. These elements are touted all over the media and gave birth to a whole new type of coaches, consultants, and gurus.
However, recent studies show motivation and willpower are easily depleted resources. Also, they are highly dependent on your mood, health, and mindset.
So, the only one that’s left is self-discipline – the least sexy out of the three. However, there is a 2013 study by Wilhelm Hoffman that suggests people with high self-control are happier and manage to achieve what they want in life. According to the results of this study, self-disciplined people are more likely to make positive decisions and don’t allow their life to be dictated by impulses or feelings.
These people are capable of pondering the data and make rational decisions based on this. As a result, they are less stressed and more focused on achieving their goals.
Since these are important traits for an entrepreneur or a freelancer, we did the research and found the top three methods one can use to gain and improve self-discipline.
#1: Just Do It
The Nike slogan has applications in all sorts of situations, but it’s extremely accurate when it comes to embracing change.
Most of us tend to trust our gut feeling when something doesn’t feel right. However, this feeling is not accurate and doesn’t have room in a world where we can use data and experts’ opinions as a guidance system.
The “gut feeling” is a reminiscent warning system that was useful to early humans who needed to make fast survival decisions without any other information. Still, in today’s world, this feeling is all about resistance to change.
Whenever you start a new project or routine, it will always feel just a little bit not right. According to Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, it’s all about the way our brains are wired. Once an activity becomes a habit, we switch to auto-pilot and accept the activity as the norm, without even thinking about it. It’s a mechanism that saves decision energy (which is also a quickly depleted resource) and focuses attention on more important things.
So, in order to change a habit, we must implement decision-making into the thinking process. As a result, it will feel weird and even wrong at first, since our brains are wired to preserve those paths that are on auto-pilot.
The solution is to embrace the weird feeling and just do whatever you want to do. Whether you want to start that online course in Business Administration you’ve been putting off or you want to start freelancing, now it’s the best time to start!
Soon enough, it will become a habit, and you won’t have to worry about it.
#2: Give Yourself a Break
Whether you’re working on a new project or you’ve just started and are frantically looking for customers, it is important to schedule breaks into your daily program. Also, reward yourself!
Being disciplined doesn’t mean you’re a robot that does everything to perfection and never takes breaks. A disciplined person will know how to choose a good habit over a bad one, but they’ll also know when to take a break or indulge a craving.
As it turns out, if you put yourself through a difficult change without a bit of wiggle room, you are doomed to fail. Very few people can jump right into the self-discipline wagon without allowing themselves some guilty pleasure.
It’s important to be nice to yourself and keep in mind that it takes time to build healthy habits. Otherwise, you’ll end up burnt out and without any motivation to move on.
As an entrepreneur or freelancer, make sure to schedule breaks in your daily routine. Also, reward yourself for every small achievement!
#3: Remove Temptations
The biggest temptation when you’re trying to do some work is social media and video content platforms. But temptation can take different shapes like a phone call from a friend, a full inbox, or even a sudden desire to clean the house from top to bottom.
To avoid getting trapped in a three hours loop of mindless scrolling your Instagram/ Facebook/ Twitter/ Youtube/ TikTok, put the phone on mute, in a different room. And shut the door!
If you’re expecting an important call, use an app to block access to social media between specific hours of the day.
Follow the principle “out of sight, out of mind”. Whenever you can’t see or reach the object of your temptation, you are one step closer to improving your self-discipline
Self-discipline is a state of mind, and requires constant practice. However, just like with exercise, the more you practice, the more natural it feels. So make sure to keep working on it by monitoring your habits and progress until it becomes an automatism.
Oli is a working mum who has a passion for teaching and all things educational. With a background in marketing, Oli manages the digital channels and content at Courses.com.au.