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Discipline Defined

Self-Discipline

Ah, the age-old quest that your teachers and coaches pushed you to take on: the quest for self- discipline.

For many, self-discipline is a shiny goal on the distant horizon — a time when we finally master our messy, imperfect selves. With self-discipline, I will finally be able to stick to my goals (stop eating sugar, work out every morning, learn a new language) and achieve my dreams.

For others, it is a measuring stick we use to judge ourselves, our character, and our actions. We often confuse it with willpower.

 Learning discipline isn’t a destination or a yardstick: it’s a practice. Practices never end, but we do become more  skilled.

Many strive to practice discipline, but mastering this form of self-control is harder than we think. Our mental well-being, upbringing, personal habits, and present circumstances impact our handling of ourselves.

Learning how to become disciplined requires deliberate practice, just like self-love or facing our fears. Though it may seem like an unbeatable dragon, getting better is always possible. With practice, you learn how to work with who you are and what you have to develop the self-discipline that matters for you and your goals.

It doesn’t help to beat ourselves up or compare our “lack” of self-discipline to others. Let go of viewing it as a character trait and focus on developing self-discipline as a tool to achieve the life you want to live.

What it means to be disciplined looks different for everyone, from athletes to CEOs.

Discipline encompasses training people to adhere to certain behaviours and rules. The definition of self-discipline is similar, except that we turn these efforts inward and train ourselves to control our behaviour, mind, and body over time. ThaTs what staying disciplined is about.

Discipline training often also implies obedience, rigid rules, and punishment. Unfortunately, this disciplinary aspect explains why we judge ourselves harshly around our own actions.

Learning how to build self-discipline doesnt mean tearing yourself down, and disciplining yourself isnt about having zero self-compassion. Self-imposed threats and punishment arent effective for developing discipline within ourselves.

Self-discipline is a soft skill, meaning it’s applicable in a wide variety of settings and situations. Like replacing a bad habit, learning to practice emotional self-regulation is a constant process. This is closely related to self-management, which is when you take personal responsibility for your behaviour or actions and any rewards or consequences that arise from them.

Improving your self-discipline improves your will; you can’t have one without the other. Where self-discipline centres around maintaining control and exercising restraint, your will — more commonly referred to as “willpower” — is an innate response and refers to your ability to push yourself to continue.

Resisting chocolate cravings might result from your willpower — but choosing not to buy chocolate at all is about practicing discipline in making decisions that anticipate future struggles.

And it turns out that people who reach their goals are far more often practicing discipline rather than relying on the strength of their willpower. Power requires discipline, which is something to never forget.

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