Self-discipline can be really tough and that is why so many of us fail again and again!

Taking disciplined actions requires us tolerating short term temporary discomfort in the belief that it will result in a long term meaningful and powerful reward.

Below, I highlight some of the potential pitfalls when it comes to the topic of self-discipline as well as some tools to help.

Over Rationalising

This is where we look for reasons to abandon our well intentioned self-discipline.  Telling ourselves that we have earned a break or reward because of all our good work, only to ultimately sabotage our efforts.  If you hear yourself saying ‘I did X so therefore I can do Y, then you are likely to have a tendency to over rationalise!  Remember the big picture here.  What is your overall objective and why is it so important to you?

Parkinson’s Law

Developed by Cyril Parkinson is the understanding that the more time and space that you provide people with, then the more time and resources that they take to complete tasks.  So, how might this apply to you?  Well, perhaps you tell yourself that you work better to deadlines and procrastinate on starting tasks?  Delaying our efforts until we feel the acute pressure of the deadline.  Therefore, try to apply artificial limitations on your own time or aggressive deadlines which force you to focus on the task at hand.

The 75% Rule

Too many of us delay taking action until the time is absolutely right.  We make excuses such as we don’t have enough time, information, qualifications, etc.  The reality is that there is and never will be a perfect moment in which to begin so when you feel that you are 75% certain that you are going to succeed, commit and take action or you will never start.

Urge Surfing

Typically urges last for 20 – 30 minutes whether that urge is to quit a task, have a cigarette or drink, etc.  In the main we try to fight these urges tackling them head on or perhaps attempt to distract ourselves instead.  Neither of these approaches work.  Rather the next time you feel an urge to do something, examine it with curiosity.  What are you experiencing physically? Can you feel stress or anxiety?  Perhaps you are bored?  Take a couple of minutes focusing on your breath and imagine the urge like a wave on the ocean.  See it rise and fall and eventually peak and subside.  The more that you practice this exercise then the easier it becomes and more confident you will feel.

The 10X Rule

Finally, I want to end on big goals which of course involves self discipline if we are going to succeed! Why impose self-discipline if life is going to be mediocre at best? Setting big goals inspires us to be more.  Why not try the 10X rule where you set big ambitious targets that are ten times more than you think you want and 10 times more challenging that you think necessary.  Okay it is over the top but that is precisely point!  It requires a change in mindset and a limitless growth orientated focus.  It will out of necessity involve some discomfort along the way but with practice you will learn to welcome the challenge.  Who knows?  You might even be surprised with your results!

Joe McDonald, founder of create10 is a professional coach and trainer.  Providing exceptional and powerful one to one coaching in person, by phone or online.  Impactful workshops to teams on leadership, performance, team development and innovation as well as affordable and flexible online courses.  See or email for further information