How to increase your self-discipline

What it’s all about:
  • Your own drive as the basis for self-discipline
  • Time restrictions and priorities as a framework for your goal
  • Use your personal rhythm to work on yourself in a disciplined way
  • Seek out role models, block negativity
  • Rewards ensure even more discipline
  • Realistic goals and small steps
  • Avoid self-deception at all costs
  • Overcome mental obstacles and have fun in the process

Those who go through life with a good dose of self-discipline are more likely to achieve their goals – in both their professional and private lives. As you probably already know, discipline is a virtue that is deemed difficult to master and yet most people aspire to it. If you want to be more self-disciplined but don’t know how, you’ve come to the right place.

Your own drive as the basis for self-discipline

If you only do things or strive for goals because others want you to, you will never be the best. So it’s important that the desire for a better job, a healthier life or anything else comes from within yourself. If you see the greater purpose behind a goal, you are much more likely to have the discipline to put in the necessary effort. Listen to yourself and ask yourself honestly: Is your goal really your own personal desire or do you just want to please others? Maintaining your self-discipline for others simply won’t work in the long run.

Time restrictions and priorities as a framework for your goal

It’s difficult to muster the discipline you need to achieve your goal without a concrete plan. So, try to set priorities. It’s best to think about what you still want to achieve at fixed intervals – weekly, daily or once a month – and which tasks have priority. Also, set a specific point in time by which you want to have completed important tasks. This will motivate you to get started sooner rather than putting off the completion of tasks until another day.

If you schedule deadlines that are too far in the future, you tend to become undisciplined. You still have enough time, there’s no pressure at all, right? So why should you get to work right away? This thinking is anything but helpful for maintaining a high level of discipline. It’s therefore better to set yourself tighter deadlines – even if no one else is telling you when you should have achieved your goal by.

Use your personal rhythm to work on yourself in a disciplined way

Everybody is different. This is especially true when it comes to your own performance and daily rhythm. While some people tend to perform better in the morning and experience a slump in the afternoon, others work best at night. By getting to know yourself better and then acting on your time of day preferences, you’ll automatically increase your discipline. It’s best to do all the tasks that are particularly important to you at the time of day when you can concentrate most effectively. Regular breaks are, of course, important to ensure that you always perform at your best.

People are also different in this respect. For example, some people need more sleep than others or they’re more prone to rapid physical exhaustion. Focus on your mind and body rather than on what others do. Unfortunately, not developing individual strategies that best suit you can have a negative impact on discipline.

Seek out role models, block negativity

If you have role models, you can learn a thing or two about discipline from them. Do you know someone in your immediate environment who has already achieved things that you’re still dreaming of? Then observe that person and think about the areas in which they are most disciplined. You can see from your role model that an iron will coupled with hard work and perseverance pays off. If they can do it, so can you. If you ever feel demotivated, think about your role model and how they would react in such a situation. Surely giving up wouldn’t be an option!

Of course, not all people make good role models. There will always be people in your life who are anything but inspiring. Try not to let their negativity spill over onto you. If there are friends, acquaintances, colleagues or even relatives who doubt that you will achieve your goals, then try not to talk about the subject with them. Let criticism bounce off you if you feel it’s not justified. Unfortunately, there are many people out there who aren’t satisfied with their own lives. Don’t let this become your problem – do your thing!

Rewards ensure even more discipline

Maintaining self-discipline on your own initiative is anything but easy. Only those who regularly receive positive feedback from others will be able to motivate themselves to consistently give their best. Unfortunately, being constantly showered with praise isn’t a given. It’s therefore essential that you reward yourself when, for example, you’ve completed a task particularly quickly, well or efficiently. If it’s a larger interim goal, you should also reward yourself.

The reward can either be something material or a bit of time off in the form of a trip out or a holiday. Anyone who is repeatedly praised or receives rewards will remain motivated long-term. By rewarding yourself, you too will benefit from this effect in the long run. Of course, it’s still important to get feedback from others. Happy bosses, colleagues or friends can give you a real boost and the drive to keep going.

Realistic goals and small steps

The very fact that you want to find out how to increase your discipline shows that you want to aim high and are prepared to give everything to achieve this. Nevertheless, don’t set your goals too high. If there is only one big goal, the achievement of which requires years of commitment and sacrifice, your discipline may well suffer in the long run. That’s why it’s important that you think of interim goals that you can achieve at regular intervals. This not only gives you more drive, but also lifts your spirits and, in the best case scenario, allows you to you discover unexpected abilities and strengths.

These goals shouldn’t be too far apart in time. As recommended above, it also makes sense to reward yourself when you achieve them. And every single step brings you closer and closer to your final goal. Step by step. Big plans, which may even seem unattainable at first, come within reach. This way provides great motivation and will make you much happier in the long run than a dogged approach without any reward.

Avoid self-deception at all costs

Some people take it upon themselves to be more self-disciplined and if they fail to achieve this, because, for example, they don’t know about the tips mentioned above, then they deceive themselves because they don’t want to admit defeat. You can’t ever let this happen if you want to work on yourself over the long term! Of course, there are plenty of temptations that will need to be dealt with using your newly learned discipline skills. What you mustn’t do under any circumstances is deceive yourself; this will do you more harm than good. For example, if you don’t achieve a goal at some point, don’t look for excuses. Instead, think about what the actual reason for your failure was and try to learn something from it for your next attempt.

You won’t always be able to avoid the temptations of everyday life. Whether it’s high-calorie sweets in a supermarket or the social media channels that distract you from your important tasks, they will always be within reach. You have to learn to deal with this freedom. For example, it’s no good forbidding yourself the use of your smartphone for a certain period of time. Instead, get into the habit of only ever going online for a short while to recover from a tiring task. Taboos won’t get you anywhere. Be honest with yourself instead and learn to use the many temptations in everyday life as a reward every now and again. Then the whole thing becomes more enjoyable again.

Overcome mental obstacles and have fun in the process

In general, people are more likely to do things long term and with vigour when they enjoy doing them. This very same principle also applies to discipline. See building up your self-discipline as a task that challenges you every day, but that also allows you to steadily improve. Take a positive approach and have fun rather than being too serious when working towards interim goals or small rewards. If you’re completely honest with yourself, putting off or even avoiding important tasks altogether isn’t much fun.  But once you have done these things, it inspires you to accomplish more and more tasks with ever better results. Benefit from this positive feeling by motivating yourself effectively.