Mastering The Art Of Self-Discipline

When is the last time you followed through with something really hard?  Maybe you were trying to lose 20 pounds, drink more water, eat healthier, or reach a sales goal, or not be on your phone to mindlessly scroll.  What was it that either got you to reach that goal or give up half-way through? Two words that have been on my mind lately as I coach my clients and go about my own daily life are “self-discipline”.  In a world were hunkering up in front of the t.v after the kids are in bed with a glass of sugar and a bowl of who knows what, self-discipline is key.


In her article for, Jennifer Cohen says, “self-discipline is the number one trait needed to accomplish goals, lead a healthy lifestyle, and ultimately be happy”.  Would you agree with that?


Sometimes gaining more of it or getting better at it seems like a never-ending struggle doesn’t it.  We can fall into patterns where we just let ourselves go in a certain area and convince ourselves that it doesn’t matter.  We don’t really care about our body or how much money we make. We just want to do what we want to do. Then inevitably we hit that breaking point.  Maybe you can’t button up your pants, or you are missing payments. Whatever it is you find yourself needing to be more self-disciplined. So you set a goal and decide you won’t eat out except Fridays or you have an allowance of $150 spending per month, something like that.  Then what happens….


Maybe you make it a day, a week, even two weeks?  I’m sure some of you can relate to me starting a soup diet some years back.  I researched it, went out and bought enough vegetables to feed an army, and spent an entire evening making soup.  The next day started out with lovely vegetable soup for breakfast, lunch was the same. Dinner was McDonald’s.   


If you can relate to any of this, awesome, you are human.  This is something we all struggle with to varying degrees. The good news is we can all get better!  Here are a few tips to get you started…


  1. Start Small…or Don’t:  In my experience, both have worked.  It may be that you need to start by walking once around the block rather than running 5k right off the bat.  It may also be that you need to cut alcohol completely out of your diet rather than tempting yourself with a few drinks a week.  The point is to start.
  2. Start:  This seems obvious but it’s the reason many of us are not self-disciplined at all.  We are amazing procrastinators and skilled at finding reasons to start on a Monday or the beginning of the month etc.  If you are reading this, START NOW!!
  3. Think Big:  There are all sorts of practical tips and tricks to help you be more self-disciplined that don’t mean anything at all if you don’t have a big enough “WHY”.  If the reason you want to be self-disciplined in a certain area isn’t bigger than your desire for chocolate, you will not succeed. To solve this, spend a minute or two and ideally write down on something you will see regularly the reason why you want this.  A good rule of thumb is to ask “why” 3 times. This helps you get to the real reason behind your desire for discipline!

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