The person who once said when there’s a will there’s a way knew the potency of human willpower. But when it comes to change, old habits can be hard to break, and it seems that we fail more often than we succeed. At its essence, when it comes to how to be disciplined and have willpower is the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.
How to be disciplined is not easy to answer, as having self-control over those things that we struggle with can make us feel that our willpower is never quite enough. Don´t get frustrated and keep in mind that willpower is like a muscle and it gets stronger with regular use. As Roy F. Baumeister, PhD, author of the book Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength writes, “willpower is not a personality trait, a skill or a virtue. Instead, it operates like a muscle. And as such, it can be strengthened.” Here are 10 ways to think about how to be disciplined.
1. Don’t Procrastinate
As Prevention says it, bite the bullet and get to work. Procrastinators suffer more willpower-depleting stress than those who work on a schedule. They tend to be perfectionists and put off getting things done until everything is just right.
2. Eat a Protein Filled Sandwich
Never start a challenging task when your stomach is growling. When our glucose levels are low, our willpower weakens. To keep it high, reports Real Simple, eat small, regular meals that are full of protein and good carbohydrates. Try a sandwich of lean meat and cheese.
3. Know the Reward to Come
Whether it’s a piece of dark chocolate or watching an episode of your favorite series—treating yourself to it once you’ve accomplished your objective. Placing all your attention on the end goal keeps you from being as focused on the pain or effort of the activity itself.
4. Don’t Overdue It
Yes, exercising self-control is a great way to build willpower. But never giving yourself a break will deplete your resolve. Give yourself some downtime or your performance will suffer.
5. Learn How to Distract Yourself
Mind games are a person with willpower’s best friends. If you really want that chocolate chip cookie and you are on a diet, think about something pleasant (that’s not food related). Sing to yourself or throw away the object of desire.
6. Exercise Regularly
More and more studies point to how exercising regularly not only improves your physical state but improves your state of mind. You are more positive and motivated in your outlook and sleeping better will give you more energy.
7. One Step at a Time
The title for Anne Lamont’s bestselling book Bird by Bird, about the creative process, takes its name from the advice her father told her little brother when he became overwhelmed with a school assignment classifying birds. “Take it bird by bird,” was the advice. Oftentimes, people give up not because they lack willpower, but because they feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the goal.
8. Write Down What You Want
Somehow when you write it down it all seems more official. Keeping track of your progress is crucial for staying on board with any goal. When you falter, you can look back at your notes for a mental pick-me-up, too
9. Refer to Yourself in Third Person
When you start getting off track, imagine you were a fly on the wall looking at yourself. Describe yourself to yourself as if you were another person. Referring to yourself by your name rather than “I,” reports The Guardian, will help you see things differently.
10. Make a Date to Meditate
If you’re struggling with focusing, it’s thought that meditation is one simple way to train yourself to get better at it. It is the ability to intentionally not think about anything for a little while. Take five minutes and just focus on your breath, then start again.