Trying to live a life of self-discipline sometimes, if not always, robs our lives of fun and excitement. Self-discipline might require you to lose some friends, leave your hobbies and stop some of the things you enjoy. After all, discipline is a restriction from certain pleasures or desires for a goal.
But is there a way out or are you to continue to live your life with drudgery and discontentment?
I’m here with some good news…
You can be disciplined and still be happy. You can still have the exuberance and excitement of life while you put away the temporary pleasures that discipline requires of you.
Self-discipline is placing restrictions on oneself from certain pressures or desires for a greater good.
How To Enjoy Self-Discipline
1. Get convinced of the need for discipline in that area
You can’t make sacrifices towards getting a result you’re not convinced of. The reason why many people have not been able to maintain self-discipline is that they aren’t fully convinced of why discipline in that area is important.
Once discipline in a particular area has truly been seen as a non-negotiable necessity, the bulk of the work has been done already.
It’s like someone who hardly drinks two glasses of water a day now taking four liters daily because their doctor said it will cost their life if they don’t. The necessity of the action automatically fuels the discipline.
Discipline is a necessity, not an option for consideration except if success isn’t a big deal for you. Take time out for instance to highlight the benefits of reading daily and the dangers of not reading— as many as you can find. With enough reasons to maintain discipline, discipline will be easier.
2. It wouldn’t be easy at first
Although we are learning to enjoy self-discipline, you must understand that it wouldn’t be easy at first.
The first stages of discipline will be full of so much storm (it will be literally void of enjoyment). You are putting away your comfort, what you’ve been used to, what you love, and all, so expect to endure a little shaking.
However, it is only for a while. After you go through that stage you’ll begin to move on autopilot and need just little effort to continue. There are few hacks that can get you around this stage which I share in this post on peer pressure.
Now your mind is set to endure a little storm, the following steps will help you.
3. Don’t force others to join you
This is one of the most common mistakes people make in trying to live a life of self-discipline. You must know that not everyone sees things the way you do, and not everyone is wanting the result you want for your life.
Even if they are your friends, you shouldn’t force your restrictions on anyone.
If you do and they aren’t interested, they will either leave you alone (if your pressure is too strong) or frustrate you and ensure you find it difficult to abide by the restrictions.
Now, it is necessary to make your restrictions clear to everyone around you; this is not saying you should hide from them. It only means you shouldn’t impose your restriction on them. If you give people a hard time, they will also give you several hard times.
In the end, your life will be stuffed up and you end up blaming your discipline for causing the pressures while in an actual sense, it’s your ‘indiscipline’ in trying to force them that is affecting you.
If you think the people around you, by not conforming to your restrictions, are affecting you, reduce the time you spend with them and spend it with like-minded people. Instead of forcing people, you can pray for them. You really can’t change anyone; drop the pride!
4. Stack the environment in your favour
This is the crux of making discipline easier. Controlling your environment is outsourcing discipline. Simply control your environment to be supportive of what you want to do or have less hurdles to doing it.
Remember discipline is not something very attractive and something you’d avoid if there were better options. If your environment is making it even more strenuous, the likelihood of not sticking with your plan is higher.
The first adjustment you have made from the second point is spending less time with people who aren’t supportive of your decision. But it’s not just people.
If you want to go to the gym more often, let the barriers be low. It shouldn’t be too far from your house, your kits should be pre-packed so you don’t have to stay looking for them and so on. The lower the barriers, the more spontaneous doing the task will be.
5. Set up a personal reward system
While setting up a personal reward system doesn’t work for everyone, it is found to be very effective for those it works for. This simply entails giving yourself more of what you naturally love after your commitment to doing what you don’t naturally love.
So as a writer, you can reward yourself with a Netflix time after you’ve successfully written 2,500 words or whatever goal you want. Although you have to be the one to monitor and reward yourself, it can become more fun since that discipline is something you sincerely want to keep with.
5. No idleness
Your restrictions might have required that you avoid some things; now, replace those things with new habits and hobbies that are in the area of the greater good you are avoiding the pleasures for.
If you don’t replace your old habits with new ones, you are at greater risk of going back to the former. Idleness is another risk zone you must avoid. If your restriction is demanding that you stay away from some close friends, you need to fight idleness extra hard.
Many people have chosen to go back to toxic relationships because of the boredom they experience when spending time alone, so you don’t want to leave anything to chance.
Get yourself engaged in other engaging activities and let everyone know you are now engaged in something else. That way you will have fewer considerations or get fewer invitations to go back to what you left.
6. Never bend your standards
Now we are back to this. Times will come when the need to bend your standards will arise. It might come so subtly and look harmless but you shouldn’t give in to them.
The more you maintain discipline, the easier it is for you to continue to be disciplined but once you begin to allow loopholes, like an airplane, you leave the cruising altitude and you have to fight gravity to rise again.
Remember you have made a decision earlier to maintain discipline no matter what. Now is the time to do what you have said. Does this mean you won’t fail? No! You will fall short sometimes but rise again and stick with your goal.
True friends will respect your decisions and stay, but whoever doesn’t respect your decision when it is for the greater good, shouldn’t be your friend in the first place.
Benefits of Self-Discipline
Note that you are not just placing restrictions on yourself for nothing. Here are some of the advantages of self-discipline that make the sacrifice worth it.
1. Self-discipline brings accomplishments
Self-discipline is the ingredient that turns goals into accomplishments. If anything worthwhile will ever happen, it has to be made to happen. No desirable result comes by chance.
Self-discipline is the factor that will push you to take action in making things happen. Self-discipline fuels consistency and is stronger than motivation. It takes discipline to finish what you have started.
2. Self-discipline gives you speed
Although with an average level of engagement one can get some results over some time, it takes discipline to speed up the process.
It takes discipline to put in the extra effort in learning and working than the average person will do. This extra effort is what brings results faster. Enough discipline can squeeze 10 years of progress into two years.
3. Self-discipline earns you respect
People with self-discipline are admired and respected by others. The average human being knows the need for self-discipline and desires the results that discipline brings but they are not disciplined enough to discipline themselves.
They will, therefore, respect anyone who can pay the price of discipline. When you live disciplined, they might not like you because your presence reveals their weakness but they will respect you.
4. Self-discipline gives you opportunities
This is a continuation of the previous. Because people respect you and admire your level of discipline, they will naturally recommend you when something serious needs to be done. They will know you have what it takes. These opportunities cut across job opportunities, leadership roles, and promotions. High-level discipline is a marketable skill in demand in this century of ‘freedom.’
Living a life of discipline can be difficult and it is most times. But despite all the tight corners that come with the restrictions self-discipline places on you, you can still enjoy the process. You can still be free and happy.
That will happen when you know the benefits of living discipline and insist on being disciplined. You also have to stop trying to force your restrictions on others as well as avoid risk zones and idleness.
Olusegun Iyejare is a career coach and certified counselor. He helps individuals discover and maximize their potential to live satisfying lives regardless of obvious limitations holding them back.