Use Your Decision Making Skills and do Not Wait For the Right Feeling or Time. It isn’t uncommon to come across advice that tells you to do something when it feels right and stop when you don’t feel good about it (we are told to follow our gut). Well, unfortunately, this bases our actions on emotions, which can be quite unstable and unpredictable. We all have a rollercoaster of emotions. However, developing self-discipline is about learning how to get past the barriers that we put for ourselves like waiting for a perfect time to do something.
Use Your Decision Making Skills
Charles Duhigg, who is the creator of ‘The Power of Habit’ clearly explains why it is difficult for us to discipline ourselves. He states that basal ganglia is a portion of your brain responsible for your habitual behaviors. This part of your brain is related to memories, patterns, and emotions all the elements necessary for making your habits. The decisions you take are created in your prefrontal cortex. As soon as a certain behavior turns into a habit, we stop making use of our decision-making ability and start functioning on ‘auto-pilot’ instead, which is your basal ganglia.
This means that if you are to break a bad habit and build a new or healthy habit, you need to start making decisions very actively. When you do that, it will definitely feel wrong, since your bad behavior has become deep-seated in your personality and you have become accustomed to practicing it. Your brain won’t easily accept this change and will resist it from developing. However, you need to keep going if you really want to replace your bad habits with good habits. If you stick to it and accept it as a part of yourself, your mind will soon embrace it without resistance.
For instance, if you have to exercise to become fit but laziness has become engrained in your personality, then you won’t feel good and right when you decide to workout. But if you don’t let your emotions to be a determining factor as to whether to exercise or not, it will be easy for you to build a habit of exercising regularly and ultimately achieve your goal. One way of keeping yourself going is to chant a mantra to motivate yourself to keep going.
Mantra refers to a positive suggestion or chant that you create and say repeatedly. When you say something frequently, it influences your mind and thinking pattern thus shaping it in that direction. A good example of understanding this is your undesirable behavior of not exercising at all.
You enjoyed being lazy and fed negative suggestions, such as ‘lazy feels good’ or ‘I hate workout’, or ‘I just can’t exercise’ into your mind. This suggestion took over your thinking pattern and soon made you feel that being lazy is the best feeling ever. If negative suggestions can affect you, so can the positive ones. Mantra chanting is based precisely on that.
Create a mantra related to self-discipline and a goal that you want to achieve and then chant this mantra day in and day out until you feel that whatever you say is the ultimate truth. This will easily help you make the right decisions required for gaining self-discipline. One way of making yourself to remember to say the mantra is to have it printed and a copy placed strategically at literally everywhere you can see it; including the fridge, the bathroom door (both inside and outside), your phone, your TV, your remote control, the entry door, office desk, work computer, your car, your bedroom door etc. The idea here is to ensure that you remember this mantra as often as possible.
Obviously, this simply means that emotions shouldn’t be a determining factor on whether you will get started at something or not. As such, waiting for the right emotion or time is a wrong approach to developing all the self-discipline that you need in life.
Choosing to work or not to work on a task based on the comfort it offers is the wrong approach to doing anything and a tactic that can prevent you from gaining self-discipline.
If you tend to have the thought of waiting for a good time and the right emotion to do something, counter that by revisiting your ‘why’. Of course when you were developing your ‘why’ list, you never factored your emotions in that so why should they be a determinant factor when it comes to getting things done? But how can you overcome the habit of waiting for the right feeling and time?
Dump Your Habit of Making Excuses
Next, you need to discard your unhealthy behavior of making excuses for delaying a task. This has everything to do with procrastination. You cannot go far in your quest towards building your self-discipline if you constantly procrastinate. The reason you’ve been struggling over the years to achieve your goals is probably because you make excuses for not starting (which amounts to procrastination).
Let me give you an example of the form that excuses take. “I won’t be able to go for a jog because my jogging partner will not be coming” or “I won’t go to the gym for 30 minutes today because I want to go for 1 hour next time”. Well, all these are excuses. However, if you want to transform yourself to a version that gives no excuses, you will need to be very honest with yourself to determine real reason why you don’t want to do something that needs to be done in order to achieve your goal.
For example, if you come up with the excuse, ‘I won’t go out for a jog now because it’s too cold outside’, then you need to be honest with yourself and state the real reason of not jogging. Tell yourself, ‘I am not going jogging because I am extremely lazy and lack the will to do something healthy.’ Ouch! Did that sting? Of course, it did. That’s what honesty does. It pinches you and makes you realize your wrongs.
No one wants to admit that they are lazy. That’s why this realization will push you out of your self-defined comfort zone of laziness to prove to yourself that you are actually not lazy. With time, it will be easy to transform your life when you stop giving excuses for your inability to take action.