4 Tricks That Will Give You More Self-Discipline In An Instant

Self-discipline hasn’t always come easily to me. At University, I barely attended, knowing I could just teach myself what I needed to know. I went to the gym infrequently because I didn’t really need to, and when I did I barely pushed myself.

Only as I’ve got older have I learned the beauty of self-discipline. It’s a double-edged sword. Too much self-discipline can ruin the joy of spontaneity, but not enough can leave you feeling stagnant and stuck with a goal you’ll never achieve. With self-discipline, I have started sticking to regular workouts, stopped eating so much sugar, and maintained my early morning routine even throughout the weekends.

In order to be better, do better, and feel better you need to bring the right amount of self-discipline into your life. Ever wondered why you can’t stick at something? Not anymore.

1. Start off by training your brain

“I need to get my life together,” I told myself, buying yet another notebook to try and gain control of my to-dos. I felt like I didn’t have a grasp on everything, I stressed about the number of things I wanted to do and felt all over the place when it came to deadlines and the quality of my work. The funny thing is, if I’d understood one key thing, everything else would have clicked into place.

Stress is a saboteur of self-discipline. Repeat it, because it’s true. Once I learned that I sailed through the things I needed to do and stopped forgetting things. Rather than stress out about the things you want to do, just accept your own limitations and know that you will get it done.

1. Start off by training your brain

“I need to get my life together,” I told myself, buying yet another notebook to try and gain control of my to-dos. I felt like I didn’t have a grasp on everything, I stressed about the number of things I wanted to do and felt all over the place when it came to deadlines and the quality of my work. The funny thing is, if I’d understood one key thing, everything else would have clicked into place.

Stress is a saboteur of self-discipline. Repeat it, because it’s true. Once I learned that I sailed through the things I needed to do and stopped forgetting things. Rather than stress out about the things you want to do, just accept your own limitations and know that you will get it done.

Case in point, recent scientific studies show that the brain needs high levels of energy to maintain self-control. When your stress hormones increase, your blood sugar levels drop and you are not going to maintain that self-discipline, no matter how hard you try.

If you want to learn how to manage stress properly, it’s not an overnight fix. You can start by reading this guide and training your brain to react properly in high-pressure situations.

2. Prime your mind for success

Studies suggest that subliminal priming works at curbing junk food cravings and helping with self-discipline when choosing healthier alternatives. It works with subliminal messaging. Say, for example, you are subliminally shown a photo of something disgusting while you’re looking at a photo of junk food. This tiny flash of an image will cause you to associate the disgust feeling with the food, so you’ll be less likely to eat it. I learned a powerful lesson about using schemas to prime your brain a while ago, you can read about it here.

Basically, if you show your brain an image, your brain will leap to make a connection with that image. There are so many studies about this. The subliminal connections we make can influence our decisions. Once I realized this, I used it to prime my mind for success.

I started by looking at photos of how much sugar was in the sugary drinks I used to buy. I stopped picking up sugar to add to my tea and instead thought about how it would feel to eat the equivalent in spoonfuls. Somehow, that worked to completely train my brain. After a week or two, I just had no interest in anything with added sugar. I picked up zero sugar alternatives, stopped adding it to my food and didn’t think too hard about it.

3. Change the way you talk

Let me set the scene. You’re trying to eat healthier and make better choices for yourself. You’re monitoring your calories and trying to get all your relevant food groups. You go to dinner with a friend, she suggests you share a chocolate fudge cake. “I can’t,” you say.

Already, you are setting yourself up for failure. Can’t is a terrible word that implies someone or something is stopping you. It implies that you would do it otherwise. And usually means that once you feel as though you can, you will. Healthy habits are damned.

The solution is, don’t use “can’t” when you can use “don’t”. “I don’t” sounds so much better than “I can’t.” In the context of sharing a cake with your friend, “I don’t eat cake,” is a closed book. You just don’t do it. Research backs this up, too. 64% of participants in a study who used “I don’t” to refer to eating choices chose to be rewarded with a granola bar over a chocolate bar. While just 39% of those who used “I can’t” chose the healthier reward.

4. Feed your mind

In an attempt to have more willpower, people often ignore the lifestyle changes they need to make. Exercise and nutrition have a huge effect on how disciplined you are. Food that makes energy more readily available to your brain is better for your willpower. Your brain needs that energy in order to be disciplined, so you need to feed it with what it needs.

The more you do this, the better your self-discipline will be. It’s a cycle, the more you exercise, the more endorphins you flood your brain with and the more energy you have to handle high-stress situations and make better choices for yourself.

Photo by Celina Fairbairn for CGD

Beth Macdonald

Managing Editor

I'm the Managing Editor of CGD. I'm a graduate of the Penguin Writer's Academy and have published a short story. I specialize in copywriting, digital marketing, and research.

Every week receive our best tips, tricks, and behind the scenes content. Straight to your inbox. 

 

Plus: Get 10% off your first order with
CGD LONDON when you sign up.