Self-discipline is definitely something I am focused on at the moment! As someone who has recently started to undertake formal study again (for the Certificate in Assessing Vocational Achievement) I am having to be very self-disciplined.
Each day we have choices to make. Wake up early and do some early morning exercise, or get an extra hour of sleep? Pack a healthy lunch to take to work, or buy something at lunchtime? Throw a little extra money in your savings account, or buy that new gadget or pair of shoes you’ve been thinking about all month?
Deep down inside, we know which actions will yield the best results. Yet many of us struggle with making the best decisions. How do we overcome these challenges? Self-discipline is the answer.
Why Is Self-Discipline Important?
If you want to be successful and reach your goals, self-discipline is the most crucial skill to master. Frequently, the best choices aren’t the fastest, easiest, or most pleasant. So you must exercise a high level of control over your emotions and behaviour. Improving your ability to do what is best for you regardless of initial desire is the only way to make consistent progress in life. As such, if self-discipline is your foundational skill, you grow more effective in everything you do.
The Benefits Of Self-Discipline
When you develop a stronger sense of self-control, you can expect multiple improvements across many areas of your life. Here are just a few benefits of self-discipline.
1- Improved Health
First, improving your self-discipline leads to improved physical health. Exercising control over the quality and quantity of food you consume, establishing a regular fitness routine, and drinking enough water help you maintain a healthy weight, reduce your chances of illness and disease, and increase your chances of longevity and vitality later in life.
2- Greater Academic and Career Success
Next, self-discipline helps you make choices that can lead to higher academic and career success. Sometimes you must choose between studying longer hours and spending time out with friends, or staying late after work to complete a project and heading home to relax. Self-discipline helps you see the value of delayed gratification, which pays off down the line.
3- Better Relationships
Third, self-discipline improves your relationships because you become a person who follows through on your commitments. People in your life learn they can trust you to do what you say you will, and they view you more favorably.
4- Better Financial Health
Next, gaining better control over your finances is another direct benefit of self-discipline. While it’s more fun to spend money than it is to save, the disciplined individual sees the long-term benefit of putting money away for a rainy day. That’s not to say you pinch pennies and sacrifice quality of life. Self-discipline isn’t supposed to make you miserable. Instead, it’s about weighing the pros and cons and making decisions that bring you closer to your goals.
Examples of financial self-discipline that don’t require total restriction include regularly putting a certain percentage of each paycheck into your savings account or sticking to a budget that allocates a certain amount of money each month for discretionary spending. You still get to enjoy the present, though, not at the expense of your future.
5- Fewer Regrets
Another benefit of growing more self-disciplined is that you’ll have fewer regrets because you make better choices in the first place.
You’ll eliminate such problems as saying the wrong thing at the wrong time because you’re disciplined enough to think before speaking.
You’ll avoid jumping to conclusions, give yourself time to gather information before making decisions, and make choices based on facts rather than emotion or opinion.
6- Improved Time Management
With an ever-growing list of things vying for our attention, it seems that time is often in short supply. One of the best benefits of self-discipline is improved management of your time.
For example, social media can be the ultimate time-killer if you don’t exercise self-control. While it can be useful at times, you can easily fall into the trap of mindlessly scrolling through news feeds when you could be completing other tasks.
7- See Projects Through To The End
Finally, self-discipline helps you complete tasks and projects that you start, even when you lose steam or desire. Motivation is always high at the beginning of a new goal. Whether it’s a new diet plan, a new business idea, or even new relationships to a certain degree, when things are fresh, there is nothing but excitement and stimulation ahead.
Yet over time, motivation fades, challenges arise, reality sets in, and its tempting to go back to something more familiar or move on to the next shiny object.
Exercising self-control and choosing to finish what you start, within reason, even when you lose motivation and desire means you not only have the finished project under your belt, but you’ve learned lessons and acquired skills you wouldn’t have had you quit.
As the American writer, philosopher and artist, Elbert Hubbard once said, “Self-discipline is the ability to do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not.”
Understanding the importance of self-discipline, then taking steps to improve this most critical skill is perhaps the best thing you can do for your personal development and likelihood of lifetime success.