How to be more disciplined and stay focused – Learn how to concentrate like never before!
Self-discipline is an important skill for any fledgling businessman, and indeed for everyone. The ability to follow through on conscious decisions, no matter what you feel emotionally, lets you keep your business on track and make those important choices in even the hardest and most testing times. Self-discipline can help you avoid procrastination and time wasting, and help you take control of every area of your life.
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” – Hebrews 12:11
So how do you accomplish real self-discipline?
Learning self-discipline is like leaning any kind of new skill. It will take time and involves practice, gradually increasing the difficulty of the task. The more you train, and the further you push yourself, the better self-discipline you’ll have.
There are various stages in learning self-discipline. The first step you need to take is to work out what your level of self-discipline currently is. This allows you to then know how far to push yourself and work out what you’re current limits are. Of course, these limits will change as you become stronger through your training.
In order to establish your current level, think about your life and habits. Ask yourself questions such as how strict you are with regards to your health, weight, appearance, tidiness etc. These things can show you how much self-discipline you already have. For example, if you resist the temptation to eat something unhealthy when you know you shouldn’t, despite a craving for it, then it’s likely you already have good self-discipline, though this doesn’t mean you can’t still improve. There are different areas of self discipline-be it work, diet, exercise or social. Each of these areas needs to be trained separately, though having an overall strong self-discipline will obviously help.
“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion’.” – Muhammad Ali
1. Start with an achievable limit
Now you need to find things to train yourself with-tasks that you challenge yourself to do. It’s good to start off with something achievable but that will push you. This will vary from person to person, but maybe for you it’s not eating fast food for a week, or not logging on to Facebook while you’re at work for a day. Choose a goal that will test you but is attainable; something too easy won’t help you improve, and something too difficult will make you lose motivation. Once you’ve achieved this goal, try extending it- a week, rather than a day, say. It’s important not to compare your goals and level of self-discipline with others. This won’t help you, and might end up making you feel worse.
2. Take small steps
You can try to achieve your final goal through taking smaller steps. For example, perhaps you want to be able to get out of bed earlier in the morning. Instead of setting your alarm 3 hours earlier, and expecting to jump out of bed at that time, try gradually getting up earlier and earlier each day, maybe in 15 minute or half hour increments. Eventually you will get to your final goal.
Also, changing your environment may help you find it easier to reach your final goal. For example, making sure you have healthy food, and not junk, in the fridge will make it easier for you to follow a diet, or putting a child block on your computer to make it more difficult to access Facebook will help you avoid wasting time on it.
3. Manage your time better
It will help greatly if you learn not to avoid things because they are difficult or boring. Part of self-discipline is doing things that need to be done even if you don’t really want to. By avoiding procrastination and getting on with important jobs, you will manage your time much better and therefore have a more productive day. For example, sorting out and tidying your office may not seem that important, and seem like a boring, tedious task. But it is something that needs to be done, and being motivated to just do it, and not put it off, will mean it’s done much quicker and will no longer be on a long ‘to do’ list. Using your time well to do these jobs will give you more time to focus your energy and concentration on those really important tasks.
4. Be persistent
It is important to be persistent with your goals. This means that, even when you feel like quitting, you can carry on with a task. Your motivation will doubtless have its ups and downs. When you’ve had a tiring day and it’s raining outside, you’ll feel much less motivated to do that extra piece of work or resist that extra biscuit. But it’s important to stop and remind yourself that this is just a temporary feeling, and that quitting now will be a waste of your efforts so far. Everyone has weak moments, so don’t be too hard on yourself, but make sure you keep up your goals. Persistence is what keeps you working even when you least feel like it. Eventually results will make you feel even more motivated, and this in turn will give you more persistence.
5. Reassess your goals
Lastly, it’s important to reassess your goals from time to time to make sure they’re still valid. You may find that as your self-discipline increases, your goals might change. There is nothing wrong with changing your goals and sometimes this might mean abandoning old goals. But make sure you are not abandoning them just because you can’t be bothered or no longer feel motivated, but are now pursuing a more important goal.
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