Why am I lacking discipline?
Learning self-discipline is not that difficult! In this detailed guide, you will learn 3 effective methods for building more self-discipline, perseverance and self-control.
Did you know that?
Discipline is one of the qualities that contribute most to our wellbeing!1
People with strong self-discipline are average happier and happier with their life.2
Unfortunately, many people lack self-control and are the opposite of being disciplined.
Instead of pursuing the activities that bring them closer to their goals, they prefer to pass the time with happy hour cocktails, funny cat videos on Youtube or a bag of chips and the 127th season of the jungle camp.
Do you feel the same?
- Do you find it difficult to work consistently on your goals?
- Do you often not do what you set out to do?
- Are you lacking in self-control?
Then you are exactly right here.
In this article, you'll learn the 3 basics of becoming more disciplined and doing what you set out to do.
But first let's clarify one hugely important matter.
Why self-discipline and self-control are so important
Self-discipline is difficult for so many people because they associate it with renunciation or punishment.
They believe that waking up early, working hard, eating healthy, taking cold showers, or exercising regularly is tough.
But that's not true.
Most disciplined people enjoy doing these things.
For example, I am someone who is very disciplined.
- I work productively.
- I do a lot of sport.
- I eat healthy.
- I meditate daily.
I don't do these things to punish myself. On the contrary. I like to do them because they are good for me and help me achieve my goals.
Self-love has nothing to do with lying lazily on the couch and eating candy every night.
So realize that self-discipline has nothing to do with punishment or lack of self-love.
But on the contrary. You are disciplined because you care about yourself. Because you want to move forward. Because your mental, physical and emotional health is important to you.
Why am I explaining this?
Because more and more people suffer from a lack of discipline.
A lack of discipline has mutated into a kind of widespread disease
Our society is becoming more and more overweight, suffering from psychological problems and more and more people are finding it difficult to control themselves.
One of the main reasons for this is a lack of self-discipline.
Through self-discipline and self-control, we are able to forego certain things because there is something that is more important to us.
- We forego sleep because we are working on independence.
- Instead of watching TV in the evening, we go to the gym (allegedly the 127th episode jungle camp isn't that interesting anymore).
- We eat a couple of organic carrots instead of a 500g. cups Cookies and Cream by Häagen Dazs.
- We control ourselves and listen carefully to our partner, even though he makes us white hot and we prefer him% § @! & # !!! want to roar.
Although it is often so difficult for us to do without certain things, it is precisely this self-control that makes us happier and more successful.
Your mindset plays a very important factor - how you deal with your own thoughts. For this reason, I have written a free guide on the very subject. You can get the counselor download it for free here.
Learning Self-Discipline: What You Can Learn From These Well-Known Experiments
In one study, psychologists compared student grades. With over 30 different personality traits, discipline was the only trait in which the psychologists were able to determine a direct connection to the grades.3
Before I turn to interesting things like cocktails, funny cat videos or the jungle camp, I would like to introduce you to another experiment that impressively shows why self-discipline, perseverance and self-control are so important.
This is the "marshmallow test", one of the most famous experiments in social psychology.
Between 1968 and 1974, the psychologist Walter Mischel carried out experiments on delaying reward with children around four years old.
The children were placed in front of their noses with a marshmallow and told that they could either have one marshmallow now or two marshmallows if they wait for the experimenter to come back (which took about 15 minutes on average).4
So the children faced the following dilemma:
One marshmallow now or two marshmallows later?
But that was not the end of this study. A full 14 years later, the now grown-up children were analyzed again. With fascinating insights into the effects of self-discipline:
- The children, who then patiently waited 15 minutes and thus received two marshmallows, had become socially competent and self-confident people. They were able to postpone rewards as they got closer to their goals and were good at overcoming setbacks.
- The then impatient children, on the other hand, were more envious, insecure, indecisive and - regardless of their intelligence - had worse school grades than the children who waited 15 minutes.5
Self-discipline has a major impact on your satisfaction with life
Another psychological study, in which a thousand children were examined from birth to the age of 32, had similar results.
Those who could wait longer for satisfaction (i.e. had more discipline) were on average healthier, academically more successful, financially more stable and were generally more satisfied with their lives.6
To sum it up: Discipline has a huge impact on our life satisfaction. More than cocktails, funny cat videos or the 127th episode jungle camp.
And probably more than a 500g. cups Cookies and Cream by Häagen Dazs.
But how exactly can we learn discipline and which factors have an influence on it?
The 3 foundations of strong self-discipline
Self-discipline is largely made up of these 3 factors:
- Goal setting
And as you Fuchs have probably already guessed, I will go into these three factors in more detail below. Give me two marshmallows.
You can also watch the 3 basics as a video:
1. Learn Discipline - Goal Setting
As we just saw, for the most part, discipline means giving up something because something else is more important to us. But for the equation to work, there really has to be something that is more important to us. These are goals.
So in order to become more disciplined, you need a goal. And that is a critical point.
Many writers and bloggers write about the importance of goals and setting goals. But most of them overlook the essentials. You do explain that howbut forget that Why.
Why do you want to achieve your goal?
The important question is not how you can achieve a goal, but why you want to achieve it.
I believe that we hardly have to deal with a lack of motivation or a lack of discipline as long as we are intrinsically motivated for something.
Intrinsic motivation means doing something because we enjoy it, see a purpose in it, or the activity presents a challenge. If we are intrinsically motivated, the activity itself is the reward.
It is different when we are extrinsically motivated for something. Extrinsic motivation means that we do something to get a reward (Money, recognition, good grades) or avoid punishment (Termination, bad grades).
If your goal is to study law, setting smart goals can help you achieve your goal. But the much more important aspect is:
Why do you want to study law at all?
Because you enjoy it and care about it, it fulfills you and you see meaning in it? (Intrinsic motivation)
Or because you want to make a lot of money, society considers it a good job, or you want to make your parents happy? (Extrinsic motivation)
Pursuing extrinsically motivated goals is better than not pursuing any goals at all. But in the end it is above all the intrinsically motivated goals that give your life more meaning and direction. And that lead to you becoming more motivated and also more disciplined.
(By the way, here you will learn 9 more methods to do what you set out to do: learn self-motivation)
The next factor that will have a huge impact on your discipline is willpower.
2. Learn discipline - willpower
I guess I don't have to explain to you what willpower means. However, I would like to explain to you how you can train and strengthen your willpower.
Willpower works much like a muscle. If we use our willpower regularly, it grows and becomes stronger. If we do not use it, our willpower is weak.
You can train your willpower by regularly doing something that costs you to overcome:
- To shower cold every day.
- To read on for another 10 minutes, even though you don't want to anymore.
- To go without sweets in the office when you have them in front of your nose.
- Jogging for another 5 minutes, although you can no longer.
- Eat only one instead of two marshmallows (unless you have to wait 15 minutes for the second ...).
For example, when I write an article like this, I often get to a point where I don't want to write anymore.
I get tired, my concentration wanes and the article often gets stuck in certain places. That's when I want to stop writing. But instead of giving in to this feeling, I often overcome myself and write 15 to 30 minutes longer.
And to overcome myself again and again permanently strengthens my willpower.
However, just as it does not do much to overuse your muscles once, it does not do much to bring your willpower to the limit once in a while. If you want to strengthen your willpower, you have to do something about it on a regular basis.
Better a little every day than a lot once.
However, there are two important things you should know about your willpower.
Your willpower is limited
In a science experiment on self-discipline, participants were asked to perform two consecutive tasks, both of which required a certain degree of discipline. For example, they had to hold back their feelings first and then squeeze them as hard as possible with their hand (or vice versa).
Regardless of the order of the tasks and regardless of how much self-discipline the participants had, on the second task they always had less willpower available than on the first.7
So our willpower is limited.
Nobody has infinite willpower and the more activities we do for which we need willpower, the more it disappears.
Therefore, our willpower decreases over the course of the day. Usually we have more willpower in the morning than in the evening. Maybe you've noticed that too.
The more stressful and exhausting our working day, the more difficult it will be for us, for example, to do sports in the evening. Most of the time we just want to relax on the couch, eat rubbish and watch a new episode, The Voice of Germany. I feel no different, but now I seldom pursue this temptation.
So it is important what we use our willpower for and when we use it. Therefore, try to do the things that are most important to you and that will have the greatest impact on achieving your goals as early as possible in the day.
It is very possible that you cannot divide your day quite as freely as I can for example at the moment. But I'm still relatively sure that you can use your willpower more intelligently.
External factors that affect your willpower
Glucose is the fuel for our willpower. Where there is no glucose, there is no willpower. So in order to build up a strong willpower, it is important that our brain is supplied with enough glucose.8
Two factors play a major role in ensuring that our brain always has enough glucose: Diet and sleep.
Any food that contains calories provides glucose to our brain. But foods that contain sugar deliver glucose very quickly, but this supply does not last long. These foods strengthen our willpower in the short term, but then comes the so-called sugar crash.
In order to keep our brains supplied with constant and steady supply of glucose, it is best to eat foods with a low glycemic index every few hours. These are foods like:
- Fresh fruit
- Lean proteins
- Vegetables & Herbs
- (Unfortunately, like almost all sweets, these have a very high glycemic index.)
Sleep is at least as important as diet. If we suffer from lack of sleep, our prefrontal cortex - the area of the brain that is responsible for willpower - does not function optimally. Ultimately, this results in the brain cells being unable to absorb glucose.9
Arnold Schwarzenegger once claimed that if you want to be successful you shouldn't sleep more than 6.30 hours a night - and if that's not enough, just sleep faster.
This is amusing, but not the best tip for everyone. For example, 6.30 hours of sleep are not enough for me. So make sure you get enough restful sleep - or ask Arniehow it works with sleeping faster.
(Read also: Overcoming listlessness)
Let's get to the last and most important point when it comes to learning discipline.
3. Learn discipline - habits
No matter how strong and developed your willpower is, sooner or later you will reach the point where your willpower is used up.
Therefore, the best way to become more self-disciplined is to develop good habits.
These are things that I do every day, or at least very regularly:
- To take a cold shower
- Eating healthy
- To work with focus
Do you think I could do all of this on a daily basis if I needed my willpower to do these things?
No, because it would be too much of a good thing.
But since most of these activities have become a habit for me, they are no longer difficult for me. I need little or no willpower to do this.
The trick to superhuman discipline
Discipline is most effective when we build good habits and break bad ones. Or in other words: Discipline works best when we don't have to claim it.
More about that in this video:
This is why people who set multiple goals at once often fail to achieve one.
They use too much willpower before they can turn any activity into a habit.10
Take healthy eating as an example. I can try to avoid tasty but unhealthy food at every meal with sheer willpower - and will fail sooner or later.
The alternative is to get used to healthy eating.
I can learn to cook healthy and tasty and get used to healthy food until I like it. Furthermore, I can make my life easier by only buying healthy food. This way I don't even get tempted to eat unhealthily.
It looks similar with sport.
You will not be exercising regularly for months if you have to overcome yourself and use your willpower every time. So try to find fun in sports and remove all obstacles out of the way. Instead of going home after work to get your sports gear, take your sports gear with you to work and go straight to the gym from there.
That sounds like trivial little things, but that's exactly what makes you feel at the end of the day difference.
In order to develop habits, there are a few important things to keep in mind:
- Set yourself small goals. If a goal seems too big to you, you will hardly be able to make a habit of the activity that leads to the goal. Nobody can bring themselves to do something every day that they believe to be anyway that he won't achieve it.
- Just set a new goal at a time until you feel like the new activity has become a habit. Incidentally, it is wrong that it takes an average of 30 days to develop a habit. How quickly we develop a habit varies from person to person and can vary between 18 and 254 days last.11
- Don't be too hard on yourself. Research has shown that missing a chance to perform the new behavior is not a thing significant impact has on the formation process of the new habit. If you want to make meditation a daily habit and you skip Sunday because the 6 mojitos from the previous evening make life difficult for you, that's not a problem.Just keep going the next day.
- Try to have fun in the activity you want to make a habit. Fun is part of the intrinsic motivation. If you have fun in an activity, you hardly have to bring yourself to it.
In order to keep working towards your goals and becoming who you want to be, try to develop as many good habits as possible.
This will make many things easier for you than if you tried everything with sheer willpower to reach.
And if you can't develop good habits, can't find intrinsically motivated goals and your willpower doesn't seem to be strengthening, you can still spend your time enjoying happy hour cocktails, funny cat videos on Youtube or the 127th season of the jungle camp .
There are worse things.
More discipline through the right mindset
Discipline and motivation arise in the head. In order to pursue your goals permanently, you need the right mindset.
You have to deal with setbacks, learn from mistakes and motivate yourself to continue even in difficult times.
For this reason I wrote a free guide. In it, you will learn how to develop a strong mindset and thus pursue your goals over the long term.
Enter your email address and I will send you the guide for free:
You might also be interested in:
- Baumeister, R & Tierney, J. (2012). Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength.
- Hofmann, W .; Luhmann, M .; Fisher, R. R .; Vohs, K. D. & Baumeister, R. F. (2014). Yes, but are they happy? Effects of trait self-control on affective well-being and life satisfaction. Journal of Personality 2014 Aug; 82 (4): 265-77
- Wolfe, R.N. & Johnson, S.D. (1995). Personality as a Predictor of College Performance. Educational and Psychological Measurement 55
- Cognitive and attentional mechanisms in delay of gratification (1972). Mischel, W .; Ebbesen, E. B. & Raskoff Zeiss, A. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 21, No 2, pp 204-218
- Shoda, Y .; Mischel, W. & Peake, P.K. (1990). Predicting Adolescent Cognitive and Self-Regulatory Competencies From Preschool Delay of Gratification: Identifying Diagnostic Conditions. American Psychological Association, Inc. Vol. 26, No. 6, pp. 978-986
- Moffitt, T. E., Arseneault, L., Belsky, D. Dickson, N. & others (2011). A gradient of childhood self-control predicts health, wealth, and public safety. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108 (7), pp. 2693-2698
- Baumeister, R. F .; Bratslavsky, E .; Muraven, M. & Tice, D.M. (1998). Ego Depletion: Is the Active Self a Limited Resource? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 74.5: 1252-265
- Gailliot, M., Baumeister, R., DeWall, C., Maner, J., Plant, E., Tice, D.,… Schmeichel, B. (2007). Self-control Relies On Glucose As A Limited Energy Source: Willpower Is More Than A Metaphor. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 325-336.
- Spiegel, K .; Tasali, E .; Leproult, R. & Van Cauter, E. (2009) Effects Of Poor And Short Sleep On Glucose Metabolism And Obesity Risk. Nature Reviews Endocrinology, 253-261.
- Dalton, A. N., & Spiller, S. A. (2012). Too much of a good thing: The benefits of implementation intentions depend on the number of goals. Journal of Consumer Research, 39 (3), 600-614.
- Lally, P .; van Jaarsveld, C. H. M .; Potts, H. W. W. & Wardle, J. (2009). How are habits formed: Modeling habit formation in the real world. European Journal of Social Psychology, Vol 40 Issue 6
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