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A Guide to Developing the Self-Discipline Habit : zen habits

Discomfort Training

One of the reasons we don’t have self-discipline is because we run from the hard, uncomfortable things. We would rather do the easy, familiar things, that distract us.

One small task at a time, push yourself into discomfort. See how it feels. See that it’s not the end of the world. 

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A Guide to Developing the Self-Discipline Habit : zen habits

A Guide to Developing the Self-Discipline Habit : zen habits

https://zenhabits.net/self-discipline/

zenhabits.net

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Key Ideas

Finding Motivation

... to develop self-discipline:

  • Start taking small actions to make things better
  • Do the things that hurt you less
  • Push yourself into discomfort a little bit, so you can get better at this over time
  • Get good at self-discipline with some practice.

Other Types of Motivation

  • Wanting to help others: If you get better at not procrastinating on your life’s work, for example, you can help more people with that meaningful work.
  • Appreciating life: We have a short time on Earth, and the life we have is a gift. When we procrastinate and give in to endless distraction, and don’t make the most of our time, we are not fully appreciating the gift we have.

Small Actions

One of the most important things you can do to get better at self-discipline is to take small actions.

It can seem overwhelming to start big, intimidating projects. Instead, start with easy actions, things so small you can’t say no.

Discomfort Training

One of the reasons we don’t have self-discipline is because we run from the hard, uncomfortable things. We would rather do the easy, familiar things, that distract us.

One small task at a time, push yourself into discomfort. See how it feels. See that it’s not the end of the world. 

Mindfulness with Urges

Develop mindfulness around those urges you have to quit doing something hard and see that you don’t have to follow them.

A good way to do that is to set a time for yourself where you can do nothing but X. For example, for the next 10 minutes, you can do nothing but write your book chapter (or exercise, meditate, etc.).

Interval Training

  1. Set your intention to practice self-discipline and not hurt yourself anymore.
  2. Set a task to focus on.
  3. Set a timer for 10 minutes. Don’t go longer, until you get good at 10 minutes.
  4. Do nothing but sit there and watch your urges, or push into your discomfort by doing the task.
  5. When the timer goes off, give yourself a 5-minute break.
  6. Repeat.

Success & Failure

Don't get discouraged when you mess up. Failure means you tried. So it’s a victory from the start.

And it also means you learned something: you now know that what you tried didn’t work. Next time, you can try something a bit different.

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Self-Control

 ... is the ability to regulate and alter responses in order to avoid undesirable behaviors, increase desirable ones, and achieve long-term goals.

Research on Self-Control
  • A 2011 survey found that 27 % of respondents identified a lack of willpower as the primary factor keeping them from reaching their goals. 
  • One study found that students who exhibited greater self-discipline had better grades, higher test scores, and were more likely to be admitted to a competitive academic program. 
  • The study also found that when it came to academic success, self-control was a more important factor than IQ scores.
  • A health study found that people who were rated as having high levels of self-control during childhood continued to have high levels of physical and mental health in adulthood.
  • Research has found that self-control is a limited resource. In the long-term, exercising self-control tends to strengthen it. 
Motivation and Monitoring

A lack of willpower is not the only factor that affects goal attainment.

  • There needs to be a clear goal and the motivation to change. Having an unclear or overly general goal and insufficient motivation can lead to failure.
  • You need to monitor your actions daily towards the achievement of the goal.
  • You need to have willpower.

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Holding Yourself Accountable

Make yourself accountable for what you do or don’t do. You don’t have to do things to prove something to others.

Make a To-Do list with your goals, intentions and proposed actions, and try to stick to it.

Being Honest

If we are not honest in our communication due to any internal fear, we are not taken seriously. People can tell when we are not honest.

There is no need to hide anything or play the victim card. Honesty seems difficult as it requires humility, but if followed, it is easier to be self-disciplined.

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The reason why we don’t do anything useful with our time is that we lack self-discipline.

But when you write every day, you strengthen your discipline. And you can transfer that better self-discipline to achieve anything in life.

Writing cultivates self-awareness

Nothing will help you to get to know yourself more than translating your thoughts into words.

When you force yourself to write every day, you automatically become more aware of your thoughts. And self-awareness is one of the most important skills that predict career success.

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