How to develop self discipline? 16 tips for becoming a disciplined person
How to develop self discipline? How to be a disciplined person? Maybe you are a student or an adult who needs more discipline. Then you are at the right place. In this article you will find tips and examples to develop self discipline and self control.
Is it difficult to apply discipline? Thank your fight-flight response…
Your instinct considers impulsive decisions to be healthy! The urge to eat sweets, for example, is because your instinct wants to protect you: it wants to feed your fight-flight response with those sweets. Then the whole bucket of energy is routed to your running or fighting skills, and not to your thinking skills, which makes it difficult to follow the logical decision that sweets are not good for you. The fight-flight response aims to make you more impulsive in order to protect yourself.
How, then, can we get more self-discipline and willpower? Let’s look at the proven tips below…
Tip 1 – Dopamine is one of the culprits… Use it to your advantage for willpower!
Dopamine is the culprit when your willpower and discipline is not strong enough to overcome your impulsive tendencies. Shops make your dopamine stronger through free previews, scents, discounts, beautiful women and ‘your chance to save money’!
How do you put this to your advantage? “Dopamize” things that are boring but good for you. Find a way to use dopamine for this purpose to make your tasks fun! Be creative about this.
Tip 2 – Train your discipline muscle by making it a habit
Strengthen your willpower muscle by making it a habit. Train it so that it becomes a habit, or an impulse, to do the right thing. This way it gets a lot easier every time. For example, put a jar of candy in the hallway you pass daily!
Tip 3 – Use Daniel Kahneman’s theory to warm up your thinking brain for a moment
Read the theory of Daniel Kahneman (Thinking Fast and Slow) and simply turn on your ‘system 2’. Take a deep breath so that the engine of your logical, thinking, controlling, disciplined brain has time to warm up.
Tip 4 – Your willpower can run out (and can also be replenished)
Your willpower can be exhausted, for example after a long examination week with just studying… That is why it is so important to take breaks. That’s why heroes and the best professionals sometimes go into the wrong place and cause scandals: their willpower was exhausted.
So: take breaks, go outside, relax and notice how your willpower is replenished!
Tip 5 – Beware of thinking “I’m doing so well, now I deserve a little treat”
Making progress in a goal can cause sabotaging behaviour for the same goal: be prepared that at some point you may decide that it is time to treat yourself to something that leads you in the opposite direction…
Tip 6 – Visualise your goal: this encourages willpower and self-control
Self-control drastically reduces if the target is further away or seems to be further away. It’s simply worth less to you. So reduce the distance to the target and make it more visible. You can do this, for example, by visualizing your goal or by describing your ideal day in the future.
Tip 7 – Put distractions out of sight: discipline can also come from the environment
One of the special conclusions of the famous Marshmellow Test among 4-year-old children was that the clever children could resist temptation by not looking at it!
I would like to give you a few examples:
- Put distractions such as candy, or your triggers, out of sight.
- Disable as many social media notifications as possible.
- Only do healthy groceries.
- Put your phone on silent mode.
Tip 8 – Use the law of loss aversion to boost your willpower
Loss aversion means: losing is worse than the dose of good feelings you get when winning. Do you want 50 dollars now or 90 dollars in a week? Then the choice is simple: almost everyone chooses to receive 90 dollars after a week. But what if I give you a 50 dollar bill and ask you directly if you want to exchange it now so that in a week’s time you get 90 dollars back for it? Many more people said no in that case! Because they had the bill already in their hands and didn’t want to lose it.
Use this to your advantage! Imagine you already have the long-term benefits and that you lose them if you do something for immediate pleasure….
Tip 9 – Care for your future self: that’s you too!
Why should you take care of your current self and not your future self? Both are the same person. Think about your future self!
Tip 10 – Rehearse the use of discipline also for your pitfalls
Do you know yourself well and do you already know what kind of pitfalls you can encounter when you are working on something in a disciplined manner? You should therefore rehearse in advance what you are going to do if the pitfall comes about. This can be interwoven, for example, in the NLP technique ‘New Behavioural Generator’.
Tip 11 – Apply discipline to make baby steps
You don’t have to go through that big change that you want to achieve in one go. Use the power of micro learning. Do you want to go to bed early, for example? Then go to bed 5 minutes earlier every evening.
Milton Erickson ordered his claustrophobia clients to go into a closet and close the door one millimetre further every time. Or he ordered nail biters to save 1 finger each time.
Tip 12 – Go through the initial phase with a short burst of effort
The beauty of discipline is that you only need it in the early stages of your challenge. Do you have to start writing that paper that you have been postponing for a long time? All you need to do is take a discipline shot to get started. As soon as you’re up and running, you can continue automatically and easily! So have for yourself the intention to only do 5 minutes of work!
The same applies to longer habits, such as addictions or wanting to wake up earlier. The first few weeks will be the most difficult and you will have to apply a lot of discipline for that. After that, it becomes simpler.
Tip 13 – Discipline works, but sometimes the situation requires a solution from the root
It is smart to investigate and improve the undercurrent of a challenge in any case, so that it is much easier to get up earlier, for example. So solve the underlying problem, which lies in the subconscious. This can be done, for example, by looking at the positive intention of the undesirable behaviour and by re-framing it in a number of steps. This is, moreover, a permanent solution. Soon an extensive article will be published about this.
Tip 14 – Put your challenge in the light of your larger mission
You will naturally get a lot more willpower and discipline if you know what you are doing it for. Do you let addiction get in the way of the bigger mission you’re working on? This is also a reframe (see previous tip).
Tip 15 – Know and recognise your weaknesses: just admit it so you can tackle it
We all have weaknesses. Whether it’s chips, a video game or Facebook… Just recognise them, rather than pretend they don’t exist. Forgive yourself for this and then take responsibility for tackling them.
Tip 16 – Believe you are a person with a lot of self-discipline and willpower
What you believe becomes true for you. So install in yourself the belief that you can do it and then self-discipline will become easier for you.
Good luck with developing willpower and self-discipline!
Good luck with using these tips for more discipline and willpower!