Several months ago I was asked this question: “What really is self-discipline and how does it work?” I can only infer that they asked me that question because I spent 21 years in the military. I do not claim to be an expert in self-discipline, but I have learned a few things over the years that might help answer that question. First, I would like to dispel a myth that many people believe about themselves. Many people believe that their ability to develop self-discipline in their lives is dependent upon their personality and natural gifting. People get discouraged when they find themselves having problems with their finances, weight, fitness level, meeting deadlines at work, being on time for appointments, getting their school work done, and so on.
Many people fall into self-condemnation and the false notion that they just can’t get it together. However, most people only lack self-discipline in certain areas of life rather than every area unless there are other factors involved such as addictive behaviors. There are many excuses for living a life that lacks self-discipline. Discipline is not something that is only for certain people. Anyone can learn to be self-disciplined and add the value that they deserve to their lives.
What is self-discipline?
Self-discipline is nothing more than training oneself to adhere to a particular standard of behavior; most often for improvement. In other words, self-discipline is training yourself to be better. When a person wants to run a marathon or learn how to play an instrument, they simply begin to train themselves in those areas.
Four steps to developing self-discipline in your life
1. Know your goal. What is the goal that you want to achieve? (Remember to think improvement) Better health? Better spending habits? Better saving habits? Better timeliness at work or school? More time with God?
2. Add opportunities for practice. It’s not what you STOP doing that will lead to a disciplined life; it’s what you START doing. Develop a plan to practice on a daily basis. Practice eating healthy; practice spending less and saving more; practice getting up earlier; practice, practice, practice.
3. Pace yourself. Give yourself time to learn and grow. Consistency is the key to success. What ever you consistently do over a period of time will eventually become a way of life. This can work against you as well. Always think “better.”
4. Focus more on reasons for success than excuses for failure. It’s easy to make excuses for why something isn’t working. But success comes when we start focusing on the reasons why we need to succeed. When you believe more in the reasons to succeed than you do the excuses for failure, you will see results.
In summary, anyone can add value to life by being self-disciplined. All it takes is a goal, an opportunity to practice, time, and belief in why you are doing what you are doing. Please, stop using your personality and gifting as an excuse for leading an undisciplined life. To do so is to blame God for your own lack of responsibility. God wants you to succeed in all areas of life.
Keep REACHING FORWARD to God’s best in your life. He’s calling you to a higher place and He will help you get there!