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THE INGREDIENTS OF SELF-DISCIPLINE

 

“A proper balance must be struck between indulgence and severity. However, severity, despite occasional mistakes, is preferable to a lack of discipline.”

-I Ching (1150 B.C)

 

Self-discipline is a very powerful tool that can be developed for achieving about anything which you can dream. However, there are four key ingredients that must be present in our lives to allow self-discipline to flourish and exist. Most people have some or all of these key ingredients, but lack the knowledge of where and how to use them. Here are the four key ingredients of self-discipline:

 

1.        Self-Control – The act of controlling our emotions, actions, thoughts, words, and personal direction.

2.        Motivation – The “fire inside”, that fuels our efforts and makes accomplishments worth achieving.

3.        Persistence The ability to continue through adversity. The ability to brush off failure and stay focused on our goals.

4.        Goals  – Those tangible achievements that breed motivation and form our definitions of happiness and success.

 

All four of these ingredients must be present in our lives to achieve self-discipline. Every one of us knows a highly motivated person or two that just can’t seem to do anything right. A friend or neighbor who has the goal of becoming self-employed, but just can’t muster enough courage to take the first step. At one time or another, all of us have been motivated to do something, only to give up after the first failure. How many people go on a diet each year and gain more weight than they originally started with? How often have you created a household budget for you and your family, only to find yourself deeper in debt? These are examples of living without self-discipline.  The reason we get depressed and frustrated when we pinch the fat on our midsection or thighs, is not because we lack a proper genetic make-up, but because we have undertaken a task without developing self-discipline.

In order to ensure our success at every endeavor, we must first understand how to strengthen and enhance each of the four key-ingredients needed for self-discipline. By understanding and practicing simple techniques that strengthen each ingredient, we open the door to success by eliminating our self-destructive behaviors. Once we become accustomed to recognizing and implementing these four ingredients, the programmed habit of self-discipline allows us to take control of our lives. Let’s begin by examining each key-ingredient and learning simple techniques for enhancing their influence.

 

SELF-CONTROL

 

“I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self.”

-Aristotle (384 – 322 B.C.)

 

Learn to say NO to your destructive feelings, uncontrolled cravings, and selfish desires. Our primal and self-satisfying desires constantly demand appropriate control, and if we continue to satisfy the need of urges, we weaken our self-control. The narcotic of having everything all the time can dominate every action of our lives. When we begin to discriminate between what is actually needed and what is truly unnecessary, we develop a powerful sense of personal management.

The ability to control our emotions, actions, words, and thoughts has always been one of man’s most difficult tasks. In today’s society, we have made even the most outrageous overindulgence accessible by the simple push of a button. It is far more difficult to exert self-control over our lives today, than any other time in human history, and it shows!

Once we stop succumbing to every whim, craving, and desire we have, our self-control begins to strengthen and create a chain reaction. We become more alert and vigilant towards managing that which is good, and that which is unnecessary or bad. The power of self-control becomes strong enough to regulate our mental and physical cravings, society-induced desires, and influenced behaviors.

Once we have awakened self-control through the management of urges, we must reinforce it by creating the habit of denying ourselves that which we crave. Self-control acts as a filter against the powerful influence of advertising, accessibility, and our own destructive human habits. We live in a society where it is hard NOT to be fat, lazy, unhealthy, drugged up, bankrupt, depressed, or emotionally unstable. We have created so many conveniences, trends, wants, and erratic behaviors through advertising and mass media, that we are brainwashed to crave things.

The first step to gaining self-control is one of identifying the areas in our lives that are out of control. We have to take a close look at the food we eat, the bad habits we have, the character traits we possess, and the overall direction of our lives. Once we identify those things we need more control over, we can start small by gaining little victories each day. You must begin denying yourself one cigarette a day, the extra snack, that extra beer after work, or the satisfaction of indulging your emotional outbursts. If you try to go “cold-turkey” on all of your cravings, habits, and behaviors, you will surely fail.

 A technique for gaining self-control over our cravings and habits involves a self-inspection of our daily lives. By performing an inventory of our bad behaviors and habits, we can focus our efforts on controlling them.  

 

Here is a step by step description of this self-control technique:

1.        Personal Inventory – Find a quiet and private place to sit down with a paper and   pen. Begin taking a day by day inventory of your bad habits and destructive cravings.

2.        Start Small – Begin reducing each habit or craving a little each day. Keep a journal of your progress and talk to yourself about the benefits of eliminating destructive behaviors.

3.        Self-Denial – Start by denying yourself a certain pleasure each day. Target a daily activity like excessive eating or watching television.

4.        Keep a Schedule – Make a to-do list and stick to it for a change. Make a commitment to write a daily schedule and accomplish every task.

5.       Review – At the end of each day, sit down and critique your performance. Mentally re-live how you exercised self-control over your cravings and habits.  

 

Another very effective technique is called the power band. This method involves wearing a piece of colored string or rubber band around your wrist to constantly remind yourself of the habit or craving you are going to control today. Take a large rubber band and write the bad habit or behavior that you wish to focus on for this particular day, and wear it around your wrist to constantly remind you of your control. I have personally seen this method change the lives of many people. Visualize in your mind that this rubber band empowers you with self-control that flows through your whole body. Every time you are faced with a certain thought, action, or environment that stimulates this craving or bad behavior, look to the power band for help. Remember that the power of your mind is the most important ally you have in the battle for self-control.

 

MOTIVATION

 

“Rest not! Life is sweeping by; go and do before you die. Something mighty and sublime, leave behind to conquer time.”

-Johann Goethe (1749 – 1832)

Motivation is the fuel that gives our success engine its drive. Motivation is a group of reasons that develop a desire to accomplish, have, act, and perform in a manner that will satisfy a certain desire. Strong motivation is the underlying power behind some of the world’s greatest achievements. Motivation is responsible for creating actions, thoughts, and situations that are directed toward a specific accomplishment. There is no use in trying to master self-discipline if you lack the motivation to have it. Every human being has been motivated by something at some point in their lives. The fact that you are reading this book shows that you have a certain degree of motivation to succeed at something.

The problem that most people encounter when trying to motivate  themselves to achieve a certain goal, is the problem of false motivators. False motivation is the main problem behind most humans’ poor daily performance. For example, the person who wakes up each and every day to go to work because he has to, and not because he wants to, is falsely motivated. The person that goes on a diet because his or her spouse wants them to is falsely motivated. The employee, who is told to perform a certain task because their boss told them to, is falsely motivated. These are all examples of why people perform poorly or experience lackluster results.  True motivation is the result of a strong personal desire that focuses a person’s thoughts, words, and actions in such a way as to elicit 100 percent effort. Imagine if you could muster the same motivation for performing at work, as you do for personal gain. How strong would your motivation be if you were promised one million dollars for showing up to work everyday this week?

The reason that Super-Humans live a life of greatness and success is because they are truly motivated to accomplish their goals. How many people achieve a life of greatness or success in a job that they hate? How financially disciplined is a person who works simply to pay off daily bills and not for the attainment of goals? How many A’s did you receive in classes that you were completely uninterested in? When we stop and think about our daily lives, we can easily distinguish false and true motivators simply by looking at our performance in certain areas.

When you truly desire to control certain habits, cravings, and behaviors in your life, you already have one of the key ingredients to self-discipline. Most people know that they want control over certain aspects of their lives, but lack the motivation to bring about true change. One of the easiest methods for strengthening motivation is through pressure. By telling your family, friends, and co-workers of your commitment to control an aspect of your life, you establish the presence of external pressure. Now, the motivation for achieving discipline is embarrassment, self-esteem, and challenge. Peer pressure is a very powerful motivator for most people. Tell your family and friends of the commitment you have made to losing weight and exercising. Tell all of your co-workers of your personal challenge, and let everyone at lunch and dinner know of your low-fat diet and see how strong your motivation becomes.

Only through self-discipline can we begin to control and shape the direction of our lives, and only through proper motivation can we experience self-discipline. Always be aware of your level of motivation. Use different techniques and situations to strengthen your motivation in specific areas. Only by focusing on self-control and motivation first, can you expect to open the doors to a life of self-discipline.

 

PERSISTENCE

 

“Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines, but it is to the one who endures that the final victory comes.”

-Buddha (568 – 488 BC)

 

Persistence is the act of continued action and effort towards an objective, even in the face of multiple failures. Remember a time in your life when you kept after something again and again until you finally succeeded? How powerful and glorious did it feel to finally achieve your intended goal? How often in your daily life do you accept failure or the answer NO? Of all the bad habits, cravings, and behaviors which now exist in your life, how many times did you give up after failing to control them?

Self-discipline does not come without experiencing failure, and the only way to defeat failure is through persistence and perseverance. All of the world’s past and present Super-Humans have found success and happiness with a never-say-die attitude. One of our country’s most successful Super-Humans was also one of history’s most persistent failures. Here is his story:

Abraham Lincoln

1831-            Failed in business - declared bankruptcy.

1832-            Defeated for State Legislature.

1834-       Again failed in business – declares bankruptcy.

1835-       Fiancée dies.

1836-       Has a nervous breakdown.

1837-       Defeated in election.

1843-           Defeated in bid for U.S. Congress.

1846-           Again defeated for U.S. Congress.

1847-           Fails for a third time in bid for U.S. Congress.

1855-           Defeated for U.S. Senate.

1856-           Defeated for office of Vice President.

1858-       Again defeated for U.S. Senate.

1859-       Elected President of the United States of America.

 

                The history books are full of Super-Humans who used the power of persistence to gain control of their destinies. The great Prime Minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill, once said, “Success is going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm.” This is the most common reason for people’s lack of self-discipline. It is because they failed once or twice at controlling their life that they become afraid to try again. Well, here is your chance to begin anew. By using the information and techniques found in this chapter, you will become better educated at how to achieve total control of your life. There is no magic formula or ancient Hindu technique for becoming persistent. All the perseverance and persistence you will ever need is deep inside you, waiting to be exercised.

                Of the four ingredients required for self-discipline, persistence is probably the most powerful of the four, because without persistence you will never experience success. You must plan to never give up, even before you begin. If you mentally motivate yourself to keep trying no matter what, you will subconsciously program yourself for persistence. If you are motivated, have self-control, and set specific goals to achieve self-discipline, but give up at the first sign of failure, you will never experience self-discipline or success.

                 Persistence is the one ingredient that must always be present in order to succeed. Begin today by declaring your tenacity and vowing to never give up, no matter how long it takes. Make a point of going that extra mile. Learn to break out of your comfort zone and start testing the boundaries of your physical and mental limitations.

               

GOALS

“One should act in consonance with the way of Heaven and Earth, enduring and eternal, the superior man perseveres long in his course, adapts to the times, but remains firm in his direction and correct in his goals.”

-I Ching (1150 BC)

 

                Highly successful people, world leaders, great artists, and history’s most important Super-Humans all have one thing in common: they use self-discipline on a daily basis to achieve their goals. Clear and specific goals are the essential foundation of not only self-discipline, but also a lifetime of health, wealth, and longevity. Without clearly defining short-term and lifelong goals, you have no use for self-discipline. Learning life mastery and personal discipline will only come about when you set precise goals that you wish to achieve. Self-discipline goals are somewhat different than success-oriented goals, in that self-discipline goals are defined by personal improvement. Once you identify areas of your life that you wish to gain total control over, you have now defined specific areas of improvement.

                Self-discipline-oriented goals are essential to generating self-control, motivation, and persistence, the other three key ingredients needed for self-discipline. Here is an example of self-discipline goals:

1.        I want to have total control over when, how, and what I eat for the next 30 days.

2.        I am going to gain control of my finances by sticking to my scheduled budget each and every day for the next 90 days.

3.        I want my fellow co-workers to look up to me as a leader and example of discipline by the way I speak, act, and dress in 60 days.

4.        I will gain control of my emotions by disciplining my anger, depression, and attitude around my family, friends, and co-workers.

5.        I am going to set aside one hour every day to work on my goal of being self-employed in one year.

6.        I will set aside one hour each day to organizing, maintaining, and cleaning my household, my clothing, and my possessions.

7.        I want to dedicate one evening each week to my spouse, and use this evening to improve our relationship and show my love and appreciation.

8.        I will set a disciplined example for my children by becoming more involved in their lives, and showing them how I have gained control over my life.

9.        I will discipline my body to quit smoking by gradually reducing the amount of cigarettes I smoke each week, until I have completely quit in 30 days.

10.     I want to reduce the amount of television I watch to 45 minutes per day, by disciplining myself to use this time for constructive efforts.

               

                As you can see from this list of self-discipline goals, the key to having discipline is to clearly define that for which you want to use it. By setting specific goals, you enact powerful mental forces that help you focus your thoughts, actions, and efforts to accomplishing them. Take the time to think about your personal improvement desires and clearly write them down. Make photocopies of your self-discipline goals, paste them all over your office, put them in your car, stick them to your bathroom mirror, and visualize yourself achieving total control. It is one thing to say that you want to lose weight, but it is another to clearly define the amount, how, and when you are going to lose the weight.

                You must understand that simply wanting something is not enough, you must define, refine, focus, and schedule specific actions that you will take to have what you desire. The amazing power of self-discipline can alter your life to that of a Super-Human, by simply understanding the process and forces at work in the human body and mind. Remember that the four key-ingredients are specific guidelines by which you will ensure the greatest chance of success in your quest for self-discipline. Use the powerful techniques that you have learned in this chapter to prepare a personal battle plan for achieving your desires, wants, and goals.

                Self-discipline can surely set you free and change your whole life, but you must pay attention to the four key-ingredients to insure total success. Tomorrow when you go to work, stop and look around at all of the people you see, and think about how a self-disciplined person would act, talk, and look. Use the power of self-discipline to enhance your wealth, happiness, and the lives of your loved ones. Make the commitment to gain total control of your life today, and you will thank yourself tomorrow. Know that it is possible to rise above average human performance, by dedicating time each day to achieve the status of a disciplined human. 

  TO THE READER 

I hope that you enjoyed this article. This article is taken from my new book entitled, “POWER LIVING – Mastering The Art of Self-Discipline”. Please don’t get the impression that I am trying to give you the answers to all of the world’s problems, but rather that I have a few ideas and experiences that have been proven to work –even in life and death situations. 

We are all trying to improve something about ourselves. It seems that everywhere you turn there is some slick-talking ex-car salesman trying to make a buck off of an instant success formula –there is no such thing. I have spent over 12 years studying and practicing personal achievement and discipline-building tools in the world of special operations. Through it all, I have come to realize that all of the answers to achievement are found right in your pretty little head. The trick is to dig deep and go a little further than the next guy. 

Remember that whatever you consider to be successful, someone, somewhere has already done it. Learn how, why, and what he/she did to accomplish it. This is the fastest way to getting what you want. I highly encourage you to read the rest of my book, not because I want your money –but because you have already invested the time to learn a new way of becoming a better person by reading this article.