Self-Discipline vs. Discipline
“The only discipline that lasts is self-discipline.”– Bum Phillips, Legendary NFL Head Coach
Self-discipline and discipline only seem identical because people use the two words interchangeably. However, it’s important to point out the slight distinctions in order to properly apply their principles to your life.
So what’s the difference?
1. Discipline: the practice of making people obey rules or standards of behavior
2. Self-Discipline: the ability to control one’s feelings and overcome one’s weaknesses
Simply put, discipline is a practice without any values or judgment attached to it. For instance, a boxer trains for several weeks for a fight, putting his body through strenuous workouts. But he always has a trainer to discipline him. No boxer trains, or disciplines, themselves.
On the other hand, self-discipline automatically implies the need to correct misbehavior. For instance, there are a variety of methods people use to overcome the “weakness” of smoking, overeating, drinking, etc.
Remind yourself that the results of your decisions and behavior are about you and no one else by always using the phrase “self-discipline.” Feel free to call anything that prevents you from achieving your goals a weakness.
Approach the pursuit of self-discipline with a change in mindset. Use these Top 5 Ways to Build Self-Discipline and Enhance Your Will Power.
1. Remove Temptations
Many people feel they lack self-discipline because they fail to realize how they’re working against their own interests. Accept the fact that you have established a pattern of behavior, a level of comfort and satisfaction from your current condition.
“A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is…”– C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Obviously, it would be easier to sleep an extra hour, skip a workout, or dip into your savings. But if you have decided that these behaviors are preventing you from meeting your goals, you must do whatever you can to minimize or eliminate the temptation to do them.
Just like you wouldn’t start a race with your shoes untied, you can’t start a new life with your old one waiting to trip you up.
2. Show Up Every Day
The key phrase here is “every day.” And that simply means be consistent. We’re creatures of habit, and we can’t fall into the trap of being satisfied with random attempts at improvement. If you fall, you should get back up and keep going. Consistency may be the most valuable trait you can have.
“Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.” – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Start every journey of self-discipline already knowing that consistency will be a challenge. Prepare your own way to prevent being inconsistent. You can start to confuse your mind, your body, and your will by being inconsistent. We’re prone to follow routines, habits, and muscle memory that can subconsciously start controlling our behavior. Consistency makes your subconscious work to your benefit.
3. Use Mini-Milestones
Short-term victories may be the most underrated tools for developing self-discipline. People usually have big dreams and goals, and they only have their eyes on the finish line. That’s not bad in itself, but it can also become unrealistic or delusional. The only way to reach the top of the staircase is to safely make that first step.
“You have to believe in the long-term plan you have but you need the short-term goals to motivate and inspire you.”– Roger Federer, Tennis Champion
Take a moment to celebrate that first step, then imagine how great it will feel to reach that second step! And just keep your focus on reaching each milestone and celebrating each mini-victory. You may not want to consider them mini-victories, but rather THE victory.
Regardless of which term you use, mini-milestone or mini-victory, you are in the driver’s seat, and as long as you keep passing these benchmarks, you’re winning. And you’ll keep winning until you’ve won.
4. Never Play the Victim
Self-pity is the enemy of self-discipline. If you do not think that you will always have an excuse—or even a valid reason—to revert to your old behavior, you’re mistaken. Circumstances beyond our control will often dictate how we feel about ourselves. A difficult goal has a ready-made excuse on a silver platter, and feeling like a victim pushes you over the edge.
“Self-discipline is when your conscience tells you to do something and you don’t talk back.” – W.K. Hope, Author
The ability to accept what’s out of our control and the will to change what we can are tried-and-true principles for life. When developing self-discipline, you must not let yourself “off the hook” by playing the victim. There will be many obstacles that are out of your control and many that are under your control. Neither is an excuse to bow out as a victim.
5. 21 Days to a New Habit?
There are a few varying opinions about how long it actually takes to form a new habit. A popular opinion for a while was the 21-day rule, but Phillipa Lally, Ph.D., a senior researcher at University College London, published a study that found it actually takes an average of 66 days—more than two months—to form a habit.
In the pursuit of self-discipline, you should depend on your ability to form new habits. Putting the mind and body on “autopilot” makes the process much easier once you get it to focus on the right things. It may not be easy, but imagine if you were unable to form habits. The journey to self-discipline would seem impossible.
Your Life of Self-discipline Starts Now If You Want it To
When you realize that self-discipline starts with the correct mindset, you’re halfway there. Clearing that first hurdle puts you in a position to achieve consistent progress and noticeable results. But you don’t have to do this alone. The team of career coaches and mentors at elevanation look forward to being a part of your journey.
You can avoid those roadblocks to achieving your goals by clicking the link below.