Just a few weeks ago I was invited as a Guest Coach to speak about how to build self-discipline. Most of us seem to intuitively feel that self-discipline is a good thing and, hence, if we don’t have enough, we are missing on something important that we should have. Thus, any ‘procrastination’ moment is seen as a personal flaw, a limitation, an inability to be more self-disciplined.
Well, self-discipline is great… when applied to ‘valuable’ purposes and mixed with the right amount of energy!
Self-discipline is all about having the willpower and control to stick to your goals, even when Netflix and a comfy couch are calling your name (I hear it every night ;) ). Going one step further, it’s also about having enough motivation to start and follow-through on your goals, and “Motivation = Direction x Energy”!
Basically, self-discipline and motivation work hand in hand to help you reach your goals and unlock your full potential.
But, why should you be self-disciplined or motivated to reach a goal that — honestly, if you look deep within — you don’t really care about, or which you are doing only to please others while seeing no direct benefit for yourself? Your brain is smart enough to prefer to conserve energy when the rewards are unclear or insufficient ;)
Next time you feel you are lacking some self-discipline, just ask yourself: Does the goal or task in question REALLY matter?
If you have known me for a while, you might have already heard me asking: Is it really more important than Netflix? ;) It’s just a quick test I use to check my own commitments…
[Note: resting and relaxing should also be on your priority list on a regular basis, though there are probably more effective ways to do so than Netflix]
To get you going, here are a few tips on how to harness the power of both self-discipline and motivation:
SPECIAL TIP: Use the WOOP technique!
WOOP is an acronym for Wish, Outcome, Obstacle and Plan.
It is a science-based mental strategy that people can use to find and fulfil their wishes, set preferences, and change their habits, thus contributing to higher degrees of motivation and self-discipline.
“Based on twenty years of research in the science of motivation, WOOP presents a unique and surprising idea: The obstacles that we think most impede us from fulfilling our wishes can actually help us to realize them. WOOP instructs us to dream our future dreams but then to imagine what obstacles inside ourselves prevent us from achieving these dreams. In research studies, WOOP has helped people reduce stress and increase work engagement, find integrative solutions to problems, and improve time management. It has supported adults in losing weight, drinking less alcohol, and sustaining healthier relationships. Children and adolescents using WOOP improved school attendance as well as effort and achievement in school.”
(https://woopmylife.org/en/science, my bold)
You can learn all about the different steps in their website here, which includes some videos and a WOOP-Kit, and even an app! It’s a simple and effective technique (that works across ages and cultures) that I often use with my clients :)
Remember: self-discipline and motivation aren't one-size-fits-all. It’s all about practicing, building a muscle that you can strengthen over time and which will need regular recharging. Enjoy it while you’re doing it…
[First published in the Seeds for Growth & Joy newsletter on 16-11-2023.]