According to personal development author and blogger Steve Pavlina there are five pillars of self discipline:
- Hard work
Let’s take a look at each of those five.
Acceptance means that you look at your life and asses where are you standing right now in regards to self discipline. It’s best to look at each area of our life separately as we might actually be quite disciplined in some areas and less in others. Identify your weakest areas and your strongest one. How disciplined are you in your dieting? Do you keep your desk and work environment clean and neat? Do you get adequate exercise? Do you work all the time you are at work? Are you educating yourself in your field?
We can only improve once we know where we stand now. Until we accept we lack self discipline in some areas, its hard to move forward. Once we understand where we are, we can make a proper plan to improve our self discipline for each area of our life.
Willpower allows us to break through our comfort zone and make gradual improvement in our life necessary to change it for the better. The problem with willpower is that we only have a limited amount of it. You might have experienced that yourself when you went on a diet. You managed to stick with it a few days then you went back to eating the old ways. Your willpower has worn off. That’s why it’s important to use our willpower strategically. Willpower is like a spearhead of self discipline. Its very powerful but we only have a limited amount of it. That’s why its important to set our environment in a way that requires the least amount of willpower.
If you want to go on a diet, throw all your junk food out of your fridge so you don’t have to waste your willpower to resist eating that cupcake. Prepare healthy means in advance for the whole week. That way it will be easy to diet as you will open the fridge with the right meals already waiting there for you. You will only use willpower to prepare the meals and make decision to go on a diet.
It’s also smart not to overwhelm yourself with too many habit changes at once. Take it one habit at the time. Don’t try to stop smoking, get fit, improve your education, cut down on TV from your life all at once. It will be too hard. Take it one habit at the time and use your willpower strategically.
You must realize that there is no way around hard if you want to be successful in life. You might get lucky once in a while but for lasting success hard work is mandatory. Hard work is a work that challenges you, both physically and mentally. Hard work makes you grow, as you constantly push to the limits and expand yourself. Develop hard work and you will greatly improve your self discipline too.
With hard work you take a drivers seat in your life instead of being a passive observer and go wherever life takes you by itself. You might be fine with just going with the flow, but you might not be fine with where that takes you eventually, like ending up broke or sick. Everything in life requires hard work from being in shape, to being educated, happy in relationship and running a successful business. When you have a purpose in life hard work is easier, if you have a strong enough why, you will manage to push through any obstacle.
Industry means putting in the hours. Doing the work that needs to be done. Its not the same as hard work. Hard work is doing the work that is challenging, but you can be industrious doing the easy work too. For example, if you want to go on a diet you have to prepare the healthy food. That’s not particularly challenging once you know how to it but it takes time and people will often just eat a snack bar because its easy. Industry will get the job done but it won’t tell you what you have to do. That’s why its important to be clear about where you are now and where do you want to go.
Persistence is when you get tired of doing the hard work but you keep working hard anyway. That can only be achieved, if you have a clear purpose. Hard work is how you achieve your goals. Purpose is why do you want to achieve them and with perseverance you get there if you have a clear vision. That doesn’t mean you have to be stubborn and stick to your goals for decades. Be smart, people change their goals too, but when you have a clear vision and plan how to get there you must keep pushing hard.
Persistence will create its own positive cycle. When you work hard on your goals you start to see results. Those results will give you more motivation to keep working hard to create more results that will give you even more motivation.
Take a look at these five pillars in your own life and identify which one is the weakest. Then work on improving it. Slowly, one step at the time:)