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Understanding the Skill of Self Discipline

Updated: Aug 10, 2022

‘Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments’ - Jim Rohn

With exams creeping around the corner, we think the best way to stay motivated is by understanding the concept of self-discipline. People typically have small bursts of motivation, the kind where you want to re-organise your life completely, in the middle of thenight when it’s time to go to sleep. According to the ‘The Discipline Rebel’ blog, these burts often occur at night because we feel more relaxed and we find comfort in just thinking of things we want to do, as it does not require any action until later. However, as we know these small burts are short-lived and therefore hard to turn into a reality without discipline. Self-discipline isn’t something that just comes naturally, it is something that takes practice,reason and understanding. Whilst motivation and self-discipline greatly complement each other, it is important not to mistake them for one another. Motivation is described by the Oxford Dictionary as “a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way”. Meanwhile self-discipline is described as, “the ability to control one's feelings and overcome one's weaknesses”.The distinction between the two is that the first is a short-term boost to achieve something, while the other is a learned method of consistently taking steps towards your goals despite how you may feel that day. Thus, it is important to recognise that with motivation comes self-discipline and with self-discipline comes motivation. The two go hand in hand and realising that they are both needed to achieve our goals and turn them into accomplishments is one of the many steps in making our dreams come true. As humans we need to let go of the idea of instant gratification. Self-discipline allows us to put off comfort in exchange for long term success. It allows us to take control of our lives and to build inner strength. According to the INC. newsletter, 'people with high levels of self-control are more effective with their time, thoughtful in their decisions, and productive with their work.’ which is all reflected in their successful outcomes. Similarly, people with higher self-control perform better in their education as they are less likely to procrastinate thereby avoiding lower performance. Here are some practical ways we can begin to implement self-discipline into our lives:

1. Start small - The effects of continuous small habits are easily underestimated as we yearn for drastic change in our lives. Pick one thing you wish to change each day. Maybe you want to plan your revision before you start or maybe you want to employ a new revision technique rather than taking tons of ineffective notes. This way you are more likely to stay consistent. Remember great things take time and patience!

2. Acknowledge your weaknesses - recognising where you struggle is the first step. Whether that be the time you spend on social media disrupting your productivity or your lack of organisation making it difficult to start revision. Whatever it is, identifying these and putting systems in place to tackle them will help aid your discipline.

3. Remind yourself of the end goal and why you started - Constantly reflecting on the why can be a fuel to continue even when you aren't up to it some days. So always remind yourself. What is the outcome you're working towards and why do you want it to turn out this way?

4. Tell someone else what you are trying to achieve - As you are all familiar with at EBV we talk a lot about accountability partners and here is just another reason why they can be so beneficial. Science tells us that those who tell their goals to others are 3 times more likely to achieve them. So, talk to a trusted friend and let them know what it is you are trying to achieve. Maybe ask them to check in every couple weeks and you can do the same for them.

5. Allow yourself to fail but always start over - Expect a long and difficult process. This isn't something you can achieve overnight. Give yourself time, prioritise self-care and you will get there.

Don’t forget that these processes take time, but starting with small changes and habits now will mean that in 6 months time you’ll turn these changes into a lifestyle and see the difference. For you to become motivated, you need to have discipline and to have discipline you need to be motivated. The two keep each other on track and help you towards your journey of becoming the best version of yourself!

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