I am the type of reliable person. If I say I’ll do something, I’ll do it. Not necessary now. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe in ten years.
As a person endowed with a hedonistic curse, I’ve always thought that self-discipline was almost impossible to master. Why? Because there was so many more pleasurable stuff to do around me. And another thing is that inurement of self-discipline can be unpleasant and painful.
And that’s what it is – because changing and leaving your comfort zone hurts like hell.
What are the mistakes we make when approaching self-discipline?
First, is to treat it as forcing ourselves to do things we don’t want to do. You can say: Hey, but isn’t that the case? I will put it this way – forcing yourself to do things you don’t want to do, would be eating a can of worms. It’s something different in case of struggling with discipline in relation to your goals. After all, you want to do it. You just don’t want to do it right now.
Deferred gratification is the key to self-discipline
Building self-discipline is more like overcoming the momentary reluctance and focusing on gratification, which we will not receive immediately. The impulse for an immediate reward is natural and it is because our organisms recognize it as something related to survival. (There is a reason why self-control seems most difficult in the case of food and sex).
According to Baumeister self-regulation theory, there are five domains of gratification delay: food, physical pleasures, social interactions, money and achievement.
There’s no easy way to dealing with a habit of instant gratification. Initially, we do have to force ourselves to something. To make things a little easier, do it with a vision of the end, with a vision of what you want to achieve.
How can you help yourself with that? Here are a few things that helped me climb out of a dark hole of laziness:
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH VISUALISATIONs OF THINGS YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE
It can be printed photos of a place you want to go, so every time you are tempted to siphon off some of the money you are saving for your journey, you might think twice. You can change your screen saver to a picture including a version of yourself you want to become. I must admit that I myself signed my photo “a writer” and every time I was tempted to do something else, I thought about what Aga the writer would do. Then I sat down and started working on my project. My second book will be published next year, so I’m sure this tactic works! Same like putting a picture of a terribly obese woman on a fridge door while I started to spiral into another never-ending sugar high.
The thing is, you need to feed your mind with a vision that will absolutely kick of motivation.
Don’t overwhelm yourself with big tasks if you struggle with even doing your bed in the morning. Set one small thing for yourself and focus on it. Then gradually add more. If you want to write don’t throw yourself into a goal of 30 pages per day, you’re not fucking Stephen King! Make it real and achievable. for the start will be enough if you just sit and write something every day. No matter how long, it can be only a few sentences. The only important thing is that you did it. These are the foundations for your new, emerging habit.
KEEP A DIARY
Write down everything that needs to be done and tick off what you have done at the end of the day. You’ll see that your ego will want you to tick off everything from the list, so after a while, your “to-do ” list will be DONE every day.
Every day set one goal you absolutely must do and do it even if the world collapses. Just do this one thing and the rest will be easier.
TELL OTHERS ABOUT IT
If you commit yourself to something by telling others about it, it will be harder for you to get away from it. How would you feel telling your friends about your new ‘fit resolutions’, and then being get caught eating fast food? Not so great, right?
Self-control is a very extensive topic, so here I focused on what worked for me. And you have to know that I’m not an easy case;)
At the end one thing I’ve read somewhere and it sticks to my mind:
Be stronger than your strongest excuse.