If you’ve ever found yourself dejectedly curled up, wondering why you can’t seem to ever get anything done while completely ignoring the near-literal pile of work awaiting you, then you are most definitely not alone.
I was oblivious to my commitment to self-sabotaging until I was broke, unwilling to find employment and pretty much stuck in self-pity quicksand.
If enabling was an art form, then I was Picasso. I awarded myself congratulatory high-fives for getting out of the most necessary appointments, made excuses with two back-ups for double measure and procrastinated so much, my future self is probably stuck in a perpetual face-palm. Suffice to say, I was running myself into the ground, and rather efficiently so.
My life needed order that was nothing short of Divine, a feat I eventually surmised was doable with a lot of discipline and determination, and I was mad lucky to have made this realisation before irreversible harm had been wreaked. Here are 6 ways to know you need to get your discipline in order:
i. You procrastinate everything, except binge watching shows on Netflix.
ii. You’d rather flip through the same three apps on your phone and play the same level of Candy Crush for two hours than do actual work.
iii. You have an excuse for everything! With an elaborate back up when you’re feeling extra creative.
iv. You have a slew of projects from two years ago just begging you to complete them.
v. 4-hour reward nap breaks for 12 minutes of work, sound familiar?
vi. You would rather wallow in self-pity than find any solution to issues.
To resolve my deep self-discipline shortcomings, I resorted to a lot of trial and error. I tried announcing my proposed projects and assignments to others to prompt my accountability towards them, which I swiftly countered by complete avoidance. I even tried putting my plans on my phone as screensavers/wallpaper to serve as a constant reminder, but they were quickly forgotten with a swipe of my finger. Eventually, I resolved to put accountability on no one but myself, and I was able to achieve this by adopting the following seemingly obvious yet highly effective self-discipline hacks:
i. Break down your goals and set completion deadlines: to coax myself into completing my objectives, I found it easier completing tasks when they were broken into stages rather than a daunting whole. These stages would then be given strict timelines to ensure that I didn’t break into my usual slinking off routine. I’ll be honest and admit that this didn’t always work for me, but with constant trial, I soon found myself making a running game out of beating the time limit set and eventually completing the assigned task in record time.
ii. Remove distractions: and I mean this almost literally. When I have objectives to meet, my true Luddite form awakens and I detract from all forms of social media, completely abandon television and spare only my laptop for the absolutely necessary. I even started shunning human interaction when I found myself in a fierce two-hour debate on what Spice Girl I really was (Ginger obviously!), completely neglecting work I had slated for earlier.
iii. Journal: I cannot stress how important keeping a journal is to a self-discipline/self-improvement journey. Journaling here goes beyond telling your diary how you maintained eye contact for 0.3 seconds with your crush, but instead requires you to relay in detail, the goals set for the day, challenges faced in achieving said goals or reasons they were achieved with ease and the ways in which efficiency can be improved. This is invaluable as a daily routine, as it works wonders for your self-accountability, requiring you to face yourself where you fail to accomplish set goals and allows for easy reference on how to efficiently achieve objectives.
iv. Don’t sweat failure too much: it’s okay to feel guilty at failing to keep to schedule or completely shirking duties, but remember to keep your feelings in check. While it’s easy to get carried away eating your weight in disappointment, the far better option is to evaluate your shortcomings and the reasons for failing to meet up to your expectations and efficient ways to rise to the occasion in future.
v. Reward yourself: if there’s anything I do well, it’s rewarding myself for deserving and sometimes not so deserving feats. Definitely, take time out to treat yourself for meeting a deadline against all odds or showing restraint and persevering when all you wanted to do was call things quits. However, be sure your reward is commensurate with the effort put in as there is a mighty fine line between rewarding and over-indulgence and the next thing you know, rewarding yourself with an episode of Gossip Girl turns into an entire season and you’re wondering where the sun went and why your alarm won’t stop ringing.
vi. Find people to emulate: ideally, this should be the very first piece of advice in cultivating a habit of self-discipline. Find people displaying exemplary traits, observe their manners and model yourself after them.
For me, this simply amounted to admiring but secretly despising these super-humans and wallowing in pity and popcorn at my failure to be as put together, yet doing nothing to improve. However, as I found myself making strides in my efforts at self-discipline, it became easier emulating and imbibing the practices of my betters and I, till this day, look out for people doing better than I am to motivate and educate me in being a better disciplined person.
With all of these in mind, you’re armed and ready to begin a journey to better self-discipline. This is not to say you’re guaranteed immediate results, but with a conviction to improve and a determination to not be daunted by failures and shortcomings, you’re definitely on the right path to being a better-disciplined person.