Education & Career Trends: 4 Things People with Self-Discipline Don’t Do

4 min read

Edition: March 3, 2022
Curated by the Knowledge Team of ICS Career GPS

Self-discipline may sometimes seem like an uphill climb, but it is actually about taking small steps to inculcate good habits every day. (Image Credit: Canva)
  • Excerpts from article by Nick Wignall, published on

We rightly admire disciplined people. That’s because whatever your goals are, self-discipline is often a key ingredient for success. However, self-discipline is a misunderstood concept.

Most people think that it is a fixed personality trait. What they don’t understand is that self-discipline is more about habits than genetics.

It is noticed among people struggling to be more disciplined in their lives that it’s not for lack of desire or motivation. The reason we struggle to be more disciplined isn’t a moral failing or faulty genes — it’s that bad habits interfere with our natural ability to be disciplined.

If you want to become a more disciplined person, learn to identify these habits and eliminate them. Self-discipline won’t be far behind.

To become more self-disciplined, identify and eliminate these 4 habits:

1. Relying on willpower

  • Willpower should never be a primary strategy for accomplishing difficult things.
  • Self-disciplined people understand that there are far more effective strategies for staying committed to challenging goals and tasks.
  • A “secret weapon” many high-discipline people take advantage of is environmental design. Instead of pushing yourself through a goal, it’s better to design your environment to be conducive to the goal and pull you through it.
  • It is better to avoid temptations in the first place than trying to resist them.
  • Self-disciplined people understand that they don’t have nearly as much willpower as other people think they do. As a result, they don’t rely on it and get creative about other ways to stay focused and committed.
  • If you want to become more disciplined, ask yourself this question: How would I achieve my goals if I had zero willpower?

2. Waiting for motivation

  • Feeling a surge of motivation is not required to do hard things.
  • People think that “if I’m not feeling it” it’s not worth even trying. We go about our lives waiting for inspiration to strike, but all the while our dreams, goals, and aspirations fade further and further into memory.
  • Self-disciplined people understand the true nature of the relationship between feeling and action. Action leads to feeling just as often as feeling leads to action.
  • The relationship between feeling and action is a two-way street. Feeling good helps you do hard things, but doing hard things makes you feel good and motivated to do future hard things.
  • Self-disciplined people have an action-bias. They understand that the only way to feel consistently motivated is to build the habit of consistently taking action
  • This is how they create their own steady stream of motivation.

3. Trusting your feelings

  • The key insight here is that while emotions often communicate important information, they can just as often lead us astray.
  • Highly disciplined people are often very much in touch with their moods and emotions. But they’re not ruled by them.
  • Self-discipline requires a healthy skepticism of your own emotions.
  • Emotions are behavioural heuristics or your mind’s guesses about how you should act. Worth paying attention to, but not to be followed blindly.
  • Your relationship with emotions matters for cultivating self-discipline because how you feel will often conflict with your values.

4. Worrying about outcomes

  • Self-disciplined people have a knack for staying focused on effort rather than the outcomes.
  • Self-disciplined people are able to make consistent progress toward their goals precisely because they don’t spend much time thinking about them.
  • Instead, self-disciplined people keep focus on their actions, things they can do and control. If done consistently will likely lead to the desired goal or outcome.
  • Self-disciplined people have a healthy relationship with control. They understand that they can’t control goals and outcomes. All they can control is their efforts
  • Spending too much time thinking about your goals is a distraction from the things you have control over — your actions.
  • You think about your goals initially, and for most of the long middle, keep your eye off the prize and focus on the small actions you can take right now.

Have you checked out the yesterday’s blog yet?

Education & Career Trends: 3 Fears that are Silent Killers of Innovation

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article mentioned above are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)

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