Two of the most important life skills you can have are self-confidence and self-discipline. These essential skills have a supreme effect on your ability to reach your dreams, achieve short and long-term goals, including everyday tasks. If you aspire to be a leader you need to possess self-control as a key leadership skill.
One of my favorite books, The Book of Dharma, written by Simon Haas, stresses on importance of self- discipline as one of the guiding principles in life. Haas writes: “When carbon, the element that makes up ordinary coal, undergoes intense heat and crushing pressures in the depths of the earth, it transforms into a diamond”. Following this train of thought, to reveal our full potential and to manifest our purpose, similarly requires “heat”, or intensity. This could be done by employing discipline to your life.
Most if not all of my academic and professional achievements came from practicing self-discipline, determination and perseverance. I was a master of creating a “heat”! Completing MSc studies while working full time wouldn’t be possible if not that self-controlling skill. Self-discipline, of course, is not always a rosy and dream-filled experience. Sometimes, self-discipline makes us painfully aware of our own shortcomings. For example: I started my Master’s in Psychology when I was 34, this means I had a gap of studying for over 14 years. I also decided to study it in English, which was not my first language. My academic skills like reading and comprehension, and academic writing were close to non-existent.
It was taking me 2–3 hours or more, and many tries, to read and re-read 17-pages academic article to fully comprehend it. It was accompanied by dozen of cigarettes smoked one after another just as if they
supposed to help me to ind a focus. Realizing my shortcomings of academic skills made me enroll for academic skills programme which helped me greatly in that area, so that I could later proceed with my programme without necessity of giving up and quitting it. I recognize now this would never happen without determination and self-discipline.
You may also discover devastating triggers that derail your efforts and cause you to fall short of your goals. Understanding these weaknesses, however, won’t damage your self-confidence. On the contrary, knowing your weaknesses will help you develop a more realistic assessment of yourself. You’ll be confident in spite of your weaknesses. And you can always make a decision what to do with those weaknesses. You are in charge here, so you can ignore them, accept them, change them, develop or improve them – you can make decision now, remembering there is a consequence to whatever you do or don’t do. If you expect positive consequences then the positive action will need to come before.
Contrary to common belief, self-discipline does not mean being harsh toward yourself, or living a limited, restrictive lifestyle. Self-discipline means self-control, which is a sign of inner strength and control of yourself, your actions, and your reactions.
Self-discipline gives you the power to stick to your decisions and follow them through, without changing your mind, and is therefore, one of the most important requirements for achieving goals.
In the business world, self-discipline is one of the most important traits any employee or entrepreneur can have. It is a sign of self-control and most importantly, in the context of this book, self-discipline breeds more self-confidence, another important element of a successful person. Before you move to understanding how self-discipline breeds your confidence have a quick look on the following tips to improve your self-discipline.
Three Essential Tips to Improve Your Self-Discipline
- Remove temptatio It is a first important step, and as the old saying goes: “out of sight, out of mind”; get rid of your distractions from your environment. Ask your office intern to leave you of the daily lunch order email or ask your colleagues to not come to your desk when you are busy. If you want to improve your focus while working, turn of your cell phone and remove the clutter from your desk. If you’re really having trouble, download the SelfControl app on your computer to block distraction websites – Facebook, Youtube, even e-mail – for a set period of time. Set yourself up for success by ditching the bad influences.
- Don’t wait for it to “feel right.” Improving your self-discipline means changing up your normal routin This can feel uncomfortable and awkward. Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, explains that habit behaviors are traced to a part of the brain called the basal ganglia – a
portion of the brain associated with emotions, patterns, and memories. Decisions, on the other hand, are made in the prefrontal cortex, a completely different area. When a behavior becomes habit, we stop using our decision-making skills and instead function on auto-pilot. herefore, breaking a bad habit and building a new habit not only requires us to make active decisions, it will feel wrong. Your brain will resist the change in favor of what it has been programmed to do. he solution? Embrace the wrong. Acknowledge that it will take a while for your new regime to feel right or good or natural. Keep chugging along. It will happen.
- Schedule breaks, treats, and rewards for yours Self- discipline does not mean your new regimen needs to be entirely hard core, or drill sergeant-like in execution. In fact, giving yourself zero recognition often results in failures, disappointments, and giving into your old ways. While practicing self-control, schedule specific breaks, treats, and rewards for yourself. Trying to work hard at the office avoiding all distractions? Treat yourself with a fancy massage after a week of the effort. Working on controlling your spending? Allow yourself some money splurge at the mall next to your office. (Leave the credit cards at home, and bring cash only). Self discipline can be hard. Reward your effort.
How Your Self-Discipline Can Create a Strong Sense of Self-Confidence
The Achievement of Small, Measurable Goals
Self confidence is something that is earned and developed over time. You cannot simply go to sleep and wake one morning with a renewed and strong sense of self confidence. Self confidence must be nurtured and fed, like a growing child. One way to provide continual sustenance to one’s sense of self confidence is to set small, achievable goals and then use self-discipline to achieve those goals. The process of regularly achieving the goals you set for yourself will help to create a strong sense of self-confidence. Start by setting a few goals that can be achieved in a single day. When your self-discipline has grown enough to meet those goals, try setting goals that take a week or a month to achieve.
Your Biggest Critic
Your biggest critic is, of course, yourself. People are hardest on themselves because they place unnecessary expectations on their own lives. They may set unreachable goals or compare their own lives to the lives of others. When you develop a sense of self-discipline, you will be able to stop disappointing yourself. The key, of course, is to set goals that you can realistically achieve. Shooting for the stars is great in theory, but practically it will only lead to disappointment and devastation. If you have low self-confidence, try exercising your self-discipline. Improving one helps to improve the other.
More Accurate Image of Your True Self
Self-discipline can help you create a more accurate image of yourself. Often, the real problem behind low self-confidence is an inaccurate or unfair self-image. When we practice self discipline, we are able to identify our strengths, talents, and skills alongside our weaknesses, trouble spots, and areas where skill is lacking. Having a realistic understanding of both characteristics will help you to establish a strong and stable sense of self-confidence.
Understanding Your Goals and Hopes
Self-discipline requires you to clearly determine your goals, hopes, and dreams. In order to create milestones for achievement, you must understand in what direction you are heading. Knowing this about yourself can also improve your self-confidence. Having clear visions and dreams can create confidence, especially when you start making progress toward those dreams. This is just another example of how self-discipline and self-confidence are inseparably linked.
Earn the Admiration and Respect of Others
Self-discipline is a difficult trait to master. When you do master this trait, you’ll have the recognition and approval of your peers and your superiors. People respect hard work and determination, and this admiration and respect can improve your own sense of self-confidence.
Goals Become Easier to Achieve
When you continually practice self-discipline, you’ll find that the goals you set for yourself become easier and easier to achieve. A person who is in the habit of making goals and achieving goals begins to develop a “Yes, I can” attitude. This attitude of self-efficacy I was writing about in another section in this tutorial can make all the difference in a business setting. A person who regularly sets goals and falls short of those goals begins to assume that they will always fall short of the mark. This negative attitude is detrimental to your chances of success and to your sense of self-confidence. Every time you reach a goal, you make a deposit in the “self-confidence bank.” The more deposits you make, the more the principal balance will grow.
Failures Become Easier to Move Past
On the flip side, regular self-discipline also teaches a person how to move past failures. For an individual without self-discipline, failures often spell disaster. A single failure can spread out and affect a variety of other tasks and goals. Many people let failures start a domino effect in their lives; one domino knocks over the next, which knocks over the next, and so on. With self-discipline, however, mistakes are perceived as temporary setbacks and nothing more. Your self-confidence will improve when you don’t let mistakes shake your resolve.
Self-Discipline Creates Your Ideal You
Above all, self-discipline helps to create your ideal concept of your own person. Everyone has a realistic self-image and an ideal self-image. he more you practice self-discipline, the more your realistic self moves closer to achieving the status of your ideal self. This, of course, will dramatically boost your self confidence because you’ll have achieved your own defined version of success.
Failing to implement self-discipline strategies may negatively affect your self-confidence, which in turn can derail even the most promising business endeavors.