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It may be hard to believe when you stand in front of a sundae of hot fudge, or with the prospect of sleeping or exercising in the gym, but studies show that self-disciplined people are happier.
People with higher levels of self-control spend less time debating whether to indulge in harmful behaviors and are more likely to make positive decisions. You don't allow yourself to be determined by impulses or feelings. Instead, they make prudent decisions. As a result, they feel more satisfied with their life.
There are things you can do to learn self-discipline and the willpower to live happier lives. If you want to take control of your habits and decisions, here are the 10 most powerful things you can do to master self-discipline.
1. Know your weaknesses.
We all have weaknesses. Whether it's snacks like potato chips or chocolate chip cookies, or technology like Facebook or the latest addicting game app, they have similar effects on us.
Acknowledge your shortcomings whatever they may be. Too often people either try to pretend their vulnerabilities don't exist or cover up pitfalls in their lives. Own your flaws. You cannot overcome them until you do so.
Related: 8 Ways To Create The Discipline Habit
2. Eliminate temptation.
As the saying goes, "Out of sight, out of mind." It may seem silly, but this phrase offers powerful advice. By simply removing your greatest temptations from around you, you will greatly improve your self-discipline.
If you want to eat healthier, don't buy junk food. If you want to improve your productivity at work, turn off notifications and turn off your phone. The fewer distractions you have, the more you focus on achieving your goals. Prepare for success by getting rid of bad influences.
3. Set clear goals and have an execution plan.
If you want to achieve self-discipline, you need to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve. You also need to understand what success means to you. If you don't know where to go, it is easy to get lost or get distracted.
A clear plan describes each step you need to take to meet your goals. Find out who you are and what you are about. Create a mantra to help focus. Successful people use this technique to stay on track and hit a clear finish line.
4. Build your self-discipline.
We are not born with self-discipline – it is a learned behavior. And just like any other skill you want to master, it requires daily practice and repetition. Just like in the gym, willpower and self-discipline require a lot of work. The effort and focus that self-discipline requires can be exhausting.
Over time, keeping your willpower in check can become increasingly difficult. The greater the temptation or decision, the more difficult it can be to accomplish other tasks that also require self-control. So work on building your self-discipline through daily diligence.
Related: 7 Ways to Gain Self-Discipline and Strive for Greatness
5. Create new habits by keeping them simple.
Gaining self-discipline and working on instilling a new habit can feel daunting at first, especially when you are focused on the entire task at hand. So as not to be intimidated, keep it simple. Break your goal down into small, manageable steps. Instead of trying to change everything at once, focus on doing one thing consistently and mastering self-discipline with that goal.
When trying to get in shape, start exercising for 10 or 15 minutes a day. When trying to achieve better sleeping habits, start by getting to bed 15 minutes earlier each night. If you want to eat healthier, first prepare lunch the night before to take it with you in the morning. Take small steps. When you're ready, there are more goals to add to your list.
6. Eat often and healthily.
Feeling hungry – that angry, annoyed, irritable feeling that you get when you are hungry – is real and can have a significant impact on willpower. Research has shown that low blood sugar often weakens a person's resolve and makes them grumpy and pessimistic.
When you are hungry, your ability to concentrate suffers and your brain does not function as well. Your self-control is likely to be weakened in all areas, including diet, exercise, work, and relationships. So stock up on healthy snacks and regular meals to keep yourself in check.
7. Change your perception of willpower.
According to a Stanford University study, a person's willpower is determined by their beliefs. If you believe that you have limited willpower, you are unlikely to cross those limits. If you don't set limits on your self-control, you are less likely to exhaust yourself before you reach your goals.
In short, our internal ideas of willpower and self-control may determine how much of it we have. Removing these subconscious obstacles and really believing that you can do it will give you extra motivation to achieve these goals.
8. Give yourself a backup plan.
Psychologists use a technique to increase willpower called "implementation intent." Then give yourself a plan for dealing with a potentially difficult situation that you know you are likely to face. For example, imagine you are working on eating healthier but you are on your way to a party where food is being served.
Before you go, tell yourself that instead of diving into a plate of cheese and crackers, have a glass of water and focus on mixing. Creating a plan will give you the mindset and self-control needed for the situation. You also save energy by not having to make a sudden decision based on your emotional state.
9. Reward yourself.
Treat yourself to something to be excited about by planning a reward for when you achieve your goals. Just like when you were a young child and received a reward for good behavior, something to look forward to gives you the motivation to succeed.
Anticipation is powerful. It gives you something to think about and focus on so that you don't just think about what you want to change. And when you reach your goal, you will find a new goal and reward to keep moving forward.
10. Forgive yourself and move on.
Despite all our best intentions and well-thought-out plans, we sometimes lag behind. It happens. You will have ups and downs, great successes and dismal failures. The key is to keep moving forward.
If you stumble, realize what caused it and move on. Don't get caught up in feelings of guilt, anger, or frustration as these emotions will only pull you further down and hinder future progress. Learn from your missteps and forgive yourself. Then put your head back in the game and focus on your goals again.