Having self-discipline means having the ability to choose what you know is right, regardless of what you may be feeling at any given moment. If you’ve recognized the need for a change in your life – perhaps you would like to quit smoking, or eat healthier, or spend less time checking your email and more with your kids – self-discipline is what you need to implement that change and stick with it. There will be times when you feel the pull to have a cigarette, or break with your diet, or check your inbox one more time instead of playing soccer with your daughter, but you have to train your mind to overcome those urges and say no to whatever bad habit you would like to get rid of.
You can learn how to build self-discipline by following these five simple steps:
- Take stock for change.
Before you can use self-discipline, you have to want to make a change in your life. Take stock of all the areas of your life and identify which areas could use some improvement. Do you eat healthy and exercise regularly? Do you enjoy healthy relationships with your family members? Do you want to learn something new but haven’t put in the time? When you make an honest evaluation of your life you can see where you stand to grow. You know better than anyone else what is best for you, and this knowledge can help you to identify where you might be going wrong.
- Bring your awareness to your goal.
When you have your goal in sight, you need to bring your mental awareness to that goal. By cultivating Stillness through meditation, you can address all of the worries and anxieties that might be resting in your mind. You need to actively dismiss those thoughts that are defeating or pessimistic in nature, and Stillness Sessions can help you to do so. When you quiet your mind through Stillness you can easily overcome your basic conditioning. The Stillness Movement is a shift towards mindfulness that will help you to build self-discipline.
- Plan to Change.
Make a detailed plan with regards to your goal. Remember to include a contingency plan to get back on track in the case of a slip-up or lapse. Try to go over the various situations you’ll encounter while trying to go through with your plan. For instance if you’re trying to reduce the amount of junk food that you consume, you might ask yourself the following questions:
- What is my personal definition of junk food? Which foods do I typically eat that I know are unhealthy?
- How will I control whether or not these items enter my home?
- What will I do when someone offers me one of the junk food items?
- Who will offer me these items (friends, spouse, co-workers, family)? How will I respond to them?
- Who will I tell about my goal to eat healthier (remember the more people you tell, the more likely you’ll be to follow through on account of social pressure)?
- When do I typically feel unable to resist these items (i.e. after lunch, after work, at social events)
- What will I allow myself to eat in exchange?
- Will I give myself a day-off from eating healthy?
- Implement your plan.
When it is time to put your plan into action, start exercising your self-discipline. Remember that you may slip up from time to time, but one or two instances of failure shouldn’t be a reason to give up your goal. Think of how great you feel each time you follow through with your goal and try to remember that feeling in times of weakness. Give yourself credit when you deserve it and remain focused on your goal if you lapse in the implementation of your plan.
After a few weeks, see how things are going. Through your Stillness practice you can once again bring your awareness to the fears that might be lurking in your mind. Perhaps you slipped up a few times – think about what happened when you gave in and how you can prevent it from happening again. And when you cultivate mental Stillness on a regular basis your self-discipline will increase until you’ll no longer have to ask how to build self-discipline – you’ll feel it.