5 Ways To Build Self Discipline

Xperience Growthblogposts

Self-discipline is a key ingredient in the recipe of success.

To achieve anything worthwhile takes growth. Growth requires us to do something different. Different is inherently hard because it’s not yet a habit. Doing hard things requires the self-discipline to do it. Without self-discipline we succumb to every temptation, eat every cookie and binge social media all day & Netflix all night.

Here’s the cool thing… we can create self-discipline. It’s not a “you have it and I don’t” character trait. In this post, I’m outlining 5 simple ways to increase self-discipline. These tactics are all from the book “The Science of Self-Discipline” by Peter Hollins.

Self-discipline is formed from being able to exert willpower and delay gratification. Like muscles getting stronger through working out, we can train our brains to have stronger willpower & delayed gratification. When someone is practicing self-discipline, the prefrontal cortex of the brain lights up under and MRI machine. Researchers say that the prefrontal cortex is responsible for self-discipline.

Studies show that our prefrontal cortex can become more active with use. So, practicing willpower and delayed gratification will make our brains more conditioned to be self-disciplined when we need it in the future.

Let’s stay in the brain… Humans experience stress. Many times stress is created by the primal instinct of fight or flight. The part of our brain that controls those primal emotions is our amygdala. The larger and more active our amygdala, the more prone we are to experience stress.

Stress kills our self-discipline because when we’re stressed we only focus on the problem at hand and don’t consider the future. Considering future outcomes is key because if not for the future, we would not need to delay our gratification today.

What’s all this have to do with meditation? Meditation shrinks the amygdala, which lessens the likelihood that you’ll go into stress-mode. The smaller the amygdala, the less susceptible to fear, strong emotional impulses and overall stress.

No matter how much you exercise it, willpower only lasts so long. Sooner or later we will run out of it. We must engineer our environment to need less willpower to achieve our goal. To do that, we must strategically use our willpower.

The example Hollins gives is really simple… how to eat fewer cookies. He says that if we have cookies in our house, we’re going to eat them. Every time we see the cookies we deplete our willpower until finally we give in and eat them. That’s not fair to us, as our environment set us up to fail. Instead, Hollins says, we need to strategically use our willpower at the grocery store. There, we should be able to muster the willpower for one hour not to buy the cookies in the first place.

Motivational Awareness
Create awareness around what motivates you. Here’s a hint, it’s likely not money. Maybe it’s awards or notoriety. Maybe it’s prizes or praise. Could also be a feeling of progress, mastery or purpose.

Two main types of motivation, extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation is what you get on the outside. It’s the money, toys and possessions. It’s also an adulation from others. Intrinsic motivation comes from within that we manifest without influence from others.

While intrinsic might be more preferred as it’s within your control, we must recognize that we have motivation in both areas.

Self-discipline hinges on our motivation to achieve something. Without the motivation, our desire to do the hard thing wanes and our self-discipline goes down. Understanding what motivates us can keep our drive going and aid in our self-discipline.

Get into action
Naturally, procrastination is an enemy of self-discipline. We usually procreate on activities that we see as difficult, which self-discipline can be.

Hollins says this of procrastination:
“Procrastination, one of the most common enemies of self-discipline, may result from a paralyzing pursuit of perfection. When you’re always waiting for the perfect conditions before you start doing things, you will end up wasting time and never performing the actions necessary to accomplish your goals. To counter this, use the 75% Rule. Instead of waiting for 100 percent certainty, start taking action when you’re about 75 percent sure that you will succeed in your endeavor.”

Applying the 75% Rum will keep your paralysis in check and keep you into activity. More activity that you’re in, the less likely that you’re going to procrastinate.

I trust that this list seems easy. That is the point, make things easy on yourself to increase self-discipline.