Discipline Yourself

The Secret to Getting What You Want

Let’s be honest.  When you hear the word “discipline,” chances are you don’t get all warm and fuzzy inside.  In ATA, we say it means “to obey what is right.”  A dictionary definition uses terms such as “proper behavior.”   When you refer to discipline, you don’t usually hear “eat all the ice cream you want” or “skip class to get caught up on Netflix.” 

But, believe it or not, by making discipline a regular part of your routine, you actually CAN have the indulgences you crave.  Yep—when you practice good habits and implement the right amount of self-control in your life, not only will you reach your goals, you may find that you enjoy the splurges even more.

Here are a few hard truths about discipline that will show you that this Leadership life skill may just be the key to getting everything your heart desires.


TRUTH:  People with self-discipline are happier.

According to an article by Success.com, people with more self-control tend to be in better moods and have an easier time with tasks such as making decisions.  This is because they have made a habit of making positive choices time and again.  By making something a habit, it doesn’t seem like something you have to do. 

Research published by the Journal of Personality on the topic, showed that self-control isn’t just about deprivation, but about managing conflicting goals.  Most people associate highly disciplined folks with being task-oriented—maybe not the life of the party or eager to act on a whim—but does that make them less joyful?  It doesn’t seem so.

Take dieting, for example.  Those individuals who make going to the gym, eating smarter, and watching their intake a priority actually create habits that encourage them to stay focused on their goal.  They are less likely to walk into a bakery where the smell of treats is overwhelming the senses.  And they tend to have more of a “big picture” mentality.  Self-control may not consist so much of being better at resisting temptation, but at finding better ways to avoid it. 

What ends up happening is that a result of those good habits leads to results on the scale and in your waistline.  You start seeing your goal slowly come to fruition.  And when someone passes the donuts at work, it’s okay if you grab one, because you are more likely to have the drive to make up for it later.  Better yet, you may not want it at all.


TRUTH:  Self-discipline is learned.

So, you don’t wake up excited about leg day at the gym or passionate about studying for that biology quiz?  It’s okay!  Being disciplined comes with time, practice and repetition. 

Some easy ways to begin adding more discipline to your life is by creating to-do lists or schedules.  You know what you need to do to reach your goal.  Now, lay it out on paper so that you can see what you need to do to make it happen.  Getting an “A” in class isn’t just going to happen without extra study time and a little commitment.  Block out a certain amount of time each day to review your notes.  If you want to earn that red belt, you need to make sure you are attending the number of classes your instructor requires and probably a few extra.  Set aside 10-15 minutes at home on days when you aren’t going to ATA to run through your form.  Then, when someone calls and asks if you want to head out to the basketball game that night, you’ve already done what you need to do, and now you can reward yourself by doing something you truly want to do. 

You get the “A” and you get to hang out for a bit at the game.  You get what you want—see a pattern?


TRUTH:  You may mess up.

This is tough one, but here it goes: it doesn’t matter how hard you work at something, there are going to be times when you slip up.  The sooner you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back on the track to greatness, the better you will feel and the more results you will see.  Forgiving yourself is one of the truest forms of discipline. 

It goes for others, too.  Part of having discipline is not being distracted by things like anger and fear.  The more you can let the little things go and stay focused on what really matters, the easier it will be to reach your personal best and do what makes your heart happy.

Now you have the tools—you need to lay out the goals you want to achieve, build a plan that allows you to implement more discipline in your life to achieve those goals, and then practice daily the good habits that will lend themselves to reaching your dream.  You can truly have it all. Just remember that it is a process—a journey—and as long as you are moving forward, then you are moving in the right direction. 


Author: Jenny Wolff 

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