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Cultivating Self-Discipline

Personal Growth
Motivation

24 September, 2021

Rushabh Shah
Rushabh Shah

Principal Software Engineer at Harness

Rushabh Shah, Principal Software Engineer at Harness, explains how to cultivate self-discipline by creating healthy habits and sticking to them.

Problem

I am sure this resonates with many people: you started to work on something, and then somehow you began to lose the traction and gradually became demotivated. You are one step away from quitting.

We live in a world with ever-present distractions. It’s hard to find meaningful goals and then stay on the course. We procrastinate because we fear failure and because tempting time-consuming activities are all around us. In those circumstances, self-discipline becomes more crucial than ever. Millions of people are struggling to create healthy habits and stick to them. I have tried and failed, but I managed to cultivate my self-discipline over time.

Actions taken

First and foremost, you should create a goal or target that is achievable. We often get fascinated with lofty goals but failing to accomplish those goals can lead to disappointment and frustration. Instead, pick a simple target within your capabilities that will not look intimidating. When choosing a goal, it’s preferable to select something that can give you back some gratification early on. Some simple goals have long-stretched rewarding time, and staying motivated will be much more challenging.

Then, create an action plan. Without the plan, your goal will stay wishful thinking. Try to make your action plan as detailed as possible and with milestones throughout the process. Hitting milestones frequently will give you a sense of accomplishment and keep you motivated. Also, allow yourself to be proud of your achievements and celebrate hitting those milestones.

 

Plan for failure. Habits are hard to build, and there are many detours on the road to success. So, always have plan B, and don’t be too harsh to yourself if you haven’t been able to accomplish something. Plan B means that you should have a plan of getting back on track and building or strengthening your habit. It’s not the end of the world if you missed or failed to do something one time, as long as that slip doesn’t turn into a habit.

From a psychological point, your mind will thank you if you operate with schedules and not deadlines. Using schedules will relieve you of pressure and make you value the process as a path to a result. While a deadline can often feel like a prison, a schedule feels like a road that leads you somewhere.

 

Visualize the end goal. Dreaming about the end goal can be gratifying and give enough motivation to push through when the going gets tough.

While self-discipline is all about self, it is also about others. There can never be enough support when you are trying to build a new habit. Having an accountability buddy or mentor can help you when your morale is low or you need a confidence boost. People who can be role models can serve as a great source of inspiration. Be surrounded by people who are trying to reach the same goal. If you have 5 friends who are working out regularly, you will work out too. Regardless of who supportive people around you are, be open, share how you feel, and be inspired and motivated.

Lessons learned

  • Failure is a friend. Learn to embrace failure. If you are afraid of failure, you will be hesitant to introduce changes to your life, whether by giving up on bad habits or starting with new ones.
  • Break down your goals into achievable milestones that you will feel comfortable and confident achieving. What helps is to write it down. It seems that writing things entails specific commitment and holds us accountable more. You are not in this alone. Talk to people, socialize, learn who can help. Find people with the same problems, on the same road to building new habits. Connect with them and establish mutual support.
  • If you can stick to a plan for 21-30 days, the habit will start to stick. In my experience, 21 days is that magic number when a habit becomes a routine. But that is not the end of it. Even as a routine, your habit needs to be nurtured.

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