Tag Archives: Self-Improvement

Self-Discipline: Enemy of a Good Time or Key to Achieving Your Goals?

Say the word discipline and watch those around you either cringe or nod in sage agreement. At least, that’s what happens to me. And I use this word all the time.

For many people, the D-word brings up visions of tyrant drill sergeants and habit-wearing nuns snapping wooden rulers on the fingers of unsuspecting (and clearly undeserving!) students. It’s the killer of creativity, a crusher of spirit, and the rigid antithesis to fluidity. Sticking “self” in front of “discipline” only means we’ve agreed to do it to ourselves.

And then there are the people like me, who credit self-discipline for their greatest creative achievements, most notable successes, and continued youthful appearance. Am I nuts? Very possibly. But in case I’m your kind of nuts, read on for tips on how I use self-discipline to self-motivate, self-inspire, and otherwise kick my own self into action pretty much every day.

The first step is to recognize that self-discipline requires action. It’s not a trait that can be inherited or a quality that can be bought. It can’t be given as a gift, stolen, or loaned. And worst of all (or best of all?), it won’t stick around forever once we get it. Self-discipline is action. If we don’t act, it disappears.

But how can we act if we don’t have self-discipline? And how can we become self-disciplined if we’re too undisciplined to act?

The quandary has left many well-intentioned people stuck at the starting line while their friends, colleagues, and competitors raced ahead. The farther everyone else gets, the harder it becomes to move forward, until those initial steps, that would have been easy if done at the beginning with the crowd, seem daunting and pointless.

This is the moment when wistful wishes arise:
If only I had kept at it.
If only I had done what they did when they did it.
If only I had discipline.

It’s easy to get caught in this debilitating cycle and why so many of us repeatedly exchange unattained goals for newer, fresh-starting goals. But will a fresh start really make a difference? Not without action. And that brings us round circle to the original quandary: How do we act diligently when we lack the self-discipline to make ourselves do it?

We act. Self-discipline is as simple and difficult as that.

The trick is to keep the size of those actions small and the praise for those actions large. We do this, by keeping our steps challenging yet attainable and by repeatedly acknowledging our efforts. If we move forward, great. If we stumble in the effort, also great.

Effort is action.
Action is discipline.
Self-discipline is the key.

Self-discipline is not measured by results: Results are the byproduct of self-discipline.

Think about it. If self-discipline were measured by results, then all those hours, days, and weeks we spend experimenting, failing, and trying new approaches wouldn’t count. And yet, isn’t that exactly the kind of effort needed on the path to any achievement? How else do we learn, invent, and progress if not through countless failed attempts?

Failing is a necessary part of learning and progressing. When we think of failure in this way, we can appreciate all those wrong forks in the road and congratulate ourselves for the effort and determination it took to take them.

No one is born with self-discipline nor is it some magical trait that, once acquired, we can rely on for the rest of our lives. Self-discipline is a day to day process–a series of wins and losses, sprints and stalls–that gets us where we want to go.

PS: If you’d like some more helpful ideas, checkout 5 Tips for Building Good Habits, 5 Empowering Things to Do While Walking, or Carb-Counting & Exercise: How I Dodged Diabetes. And if you’d prefer your helpful strategies spiced with exotic travel, philosophical musings, and a Taipei typhoon, I invite you to read Stay Calm and Get It Done: Five Strategies for Staying Positive and Productive.

To receive monthly Mindful Musings Subscribe to Tori’s Blog

Tori Eldridge is an author who challenges perception and empowers the spirit each and every day! Visit Tori’s website to read more Mindful Musings, listen to Empowered Living Radio podcasts, or learn more about her and the books and stories she writes, including “Resistant,” an apocalyptic tale set in an antimicrobial future in Never Fear-The Apocalypse, “Ace of Wands,” a spooky story of Balinese occult in Never Fear-The Tarot, and her expanded e-book edition of Empowered Living: A Guide to Physical and Emotional Protection.

Advertisements

Reflections on Gratitude (Insights from a Fractured Tooth)

Who knew a blast of air on a fractured tooth could render a badass ninja into a trembling kitten? Okay… I suppose I would have expected it if I had given it prior thought. But here’s the thing: I don’t have problems with dental work. I don’t leap from the chair like a Halloween cat and claw the ceiling every time the dentist pokes at a tooth. In fact, my biggest concern is staying awake in those comfy reclining chairs. But when that air blasted my nerve, I embedded all twenty of my claws so deeply into ceiling panel I didn’t think I’d ever come down. Continue reading

5 Tips for Building Good Habits

If you’re blessed with an abundance of self-discipline, you probably have more good habits than you know what to do with. But if your inner disciplinarian tends to slack-off and get beaten down, you might need to trick yourself into good behavior. Continue reading

5 Empowering Things to Do While Walking

In this age of sedentary occupations, busy schedules, and convenient modes of transportation, most of us do not exercise as much as we would like. Every option seems to take more time than we have and/or more money than we can afford—except walking. Once we get up from our desk and head out the door, we’ve begun. It’s as simple as that. But it can also get boring. So here are five empowering ways to keep you engaged and motivated. Continue reading

Art of Meaningful Coincidence

What is it that makes us look left instead of right so we can see exactly what we need to see, or that makes us pick up an unknown book from a wall of thousands to find exactly what we need to read, or that leads us along a series of unusual choices to an unexpected—yet perfect—outcome? Continue reading

Crushing the Streak: Wisdom on Attachment & Perception Gained from the Common Cold

Let’s face it, being sick or injured sucks. Bet you never thought you’d see me, Ms. Empowerment, writing something like that, did you? But here’s the thing—does it really have to be that tortuously unpleasant? Can the conditions in our life be less than stellar and still manage to offer some pleasant perks? I’m thinking they can. Continue reading

Why Feel Bad?

I see many well-meaning slogans encouraging us to embrace imperfections, anything from extra pounds, to volatile social skills. You know the ones. They declare to the world that we are perfect just the way we are, and that others need to fix their perceptions of us. Either that, or they can just leave us the hell alone!

On the surface, this sounds like a good thing: there is great power and peace in acceptance. The problem that I have with some of these slogans is that they imply that any attempt to correct an imperfection is an act of self-denial.

Continue reading