3 Simple Tips – How to Increase Your Self-Discipline (It Really Works!)

by Justin Hartfield

“Modern Man is the victim of the very instruments he values most. Every gain in power, every mastery of natural forces, every scientific addition to knowledge, has proved potentially dangerous, because it has not been accompanied by equal gains in self-understanding and self-discipline.” – Lewis Mumford (1895 – 1990)

Self-discipline may be the greatest gift one can inherit because it allows for everything else to be possible. Most people, however, are born without this ability. Either they learn it through experience (which teaches painfully), foresight (gentler), or never learn it at all. So, in an effort to learn the benefits of self-control as painlessly as possible, I’ve devised some tips which help me get refocused on my goals. I share them with you in the hopes that they can serve you as well as they have me.

1. Make a “want” list. Whenever you feel like you really, really want to buy something, open up a notepad and write down the good (or service) in question. Come back to it a week later. If you still want to buy the items on the page, go ahead. Don’t erase the items that you don’t want to buy anymore though. When you flip through your notepad and see a list of all the stupid crap you wanted to buy, it will inspire you to be more economical. Soon enough, you won’t even need the notepad because you will be in total control of your spending. This strengthens your self-discipline, which in turn, builds your confidence.

“Having the fewest wants, I am nearest to the gods.” – Socrates

2. Imagine your life as a timeline. A branch of psychology called Neuro-Linguistic Programming owns a powerful visualization technique which instantaneously gives us the courage to make the right choice. The basics of the technique are as follows: Visualize a timeline in front of you, with giant hovering translucent numbers and everything. This timeline represents your life. Imagine yourself jumping ahead to some time in the future; I usually go with two years.

Ask your future self if the actions you wish to undertake now will be destructive for your future you. Be like Bill S. Prescot from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. It will always work, because on a gut level you already know the correct choice. This is just a way to coax it out of yourself. Say you’re in a mall and want to approach an attractive brunette getting a pretzel at Wetzel’s, but for some reason you just can’t bring up the nerve to talk to her. Visualize yourself several years in the future and ask, “Will I regret not meeting this fine girl?” If your gut is saying “yes,” then you must approach her, for rejection is better than regret.

“It is a youthful failing to be unable to control one’s impulses.” – Seneca

3. Visual inspiration. Whenever you need strength or inspiration, it is helpful to be able to look to a symbol of your goal. Your goals are more in focus when you have a tangible representation of your aspirations. For example, I like to write inspiring maxims on my cellphone home page. It’s dorky, sure, but it works. Every time I’m in need of a boost or feeling uneasy about a situation, I flip open my phonebook and find my visual affirmation.

Currently mine reads, “Do it. Live life.” But I’ve also had “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway”and “Everything works out perfectly.” Another idea: If you’re on a diet, go out and buy jeans four inches too small. If you want to be wealthy, buy a Ferrari keychain. Hang the object up in a place where you will look everyday. Let it inspire you to do your very best.

“The entrepreneur is essentially a visualizer and an actualizer. He can visualize something, and when he visualizes it he sees exactly how to make it happen.” – Robert L Schwartz

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