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It may be easy to think that you have a high mastery of self-discipline until you face a tough choice or become conscious of the tough choice you would have to make.

It can be something as simple as deciding whether to go with a high-sugar ice cream or a healthy salad. 

According to a 2013 study by Wilhelm Hoffman, people with a higher degree of self-control are happier than those with a lower degree of self-control. The study discovered that the self-disciplined subjects spent less time debating whether to indulge in behaviors detrimental to their health as they were more capable of dealing with goal conflicts.

As a result, they were able to make more positive decisions with greater ease.

The self-disciplined did not allow their choices to be dictated by impulses or feelings. Instead, they made sensible and informed decisions on a daily basis, attaining a higher level of satisfaction in their lives. 

If you are someone who wants to take better control of your life, fret not!

Despite what many may think, self-discipline is a learned behavior. It is not some special ability a group of people has and some highly successful people like doctors and CEOs certainly were not born naturally with a high degree of self-discipline.

As such, if you would like to lead a happier life, here are 5 strategies you can adopt to master self-discipline. 


5 Strategies To Master Self-Discipline:

1) Don’t Wait For It To ‘Feel Right’

Improving your self-discipline means doing things that you don’t feel like doing or even detest (Is it studying?). It can be as simple as closing your game and returning to studying or something you detest like watching a drama halfway and having to wait till your next break to continue, even though it may be the climax of the show (I do hate it a lot when I have to do that!).

Your brain will ‘protest’ violently at first by giving a whole list of excuses because you are stopping the release of dopamines (the ‘happy’ hormone).

Moreover, by stopping whatever ‘happy’ activity you were doing recently, your brain is not used to it as watching Youtube videos or playing games has always been your preferred activity over other things.

As such, you need to understand that by overcoming that initial ‘protest’ by your brain, by doing something outside your comfort zone, doing something you don’t feel like doing currently, is a way to raise your self-discipline to a whole new level. 

“World-class begins where your comfort zone ends is a rule the successful, the influential and the happiest always remember”

– Robin Sharma in The 5 AM Club: Own Your Morning. Elevate Your Life

“You need to remember that your excuses are seducers, your fears are liars and your doubts are thieves.”

– Robin Sharma in The 5 AM Club: Own Your Morning. Elevate Your Life



2) Create New and Healthier Habits For Studying

Moving on from the first point, by doing something that you don’t feel like doing, you are also breaking down the neuron pathways that link to your previously unhealthy habit of watching Youtube videos or gaming etc.

You see… every time you perform an action, the neural pathway linking to that action in your brain strengthens. Slowly as you repeat that action again and again, the neural pathway becomes so strong that the action essentially becomes a habit.

As a result, by favoring more of your healthier actions of studying over unhealthier ones, you are able to make your healthier actions a habit. This makes studying easier than before!

Even though your brain will resist the change in favor of what it has been programmed to do, embracing the change is the way to go. Acknowledge that it will take a while for your new regime to feel right or natural. Keep chugging along. It will happen.

“All change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end.”

– Robin Sharma

Keep making the right decisions and gradually, you will feel that it becomes significantly easier to study. 



3) Schedule Breaks and Rewards For Yourself

Self-discipline does not mean that you cannot treat yourself or enjoy a break away from your studies. In fact, if you become highly obsessive with studying, it often leads to more harm than good such as returning back to your old self – being more grumpy or attaining undesirable results. 

By rewarding yourself with breaks, food, family time, movies, etc, you are celebrating your achievement of completing all your tasks on time and not giving in to your desires when it is time to study.

This celebration makes your brain excited to repeat the process in order to get the same dopamine rush.

As a result, you are training yourself to be more self-disciplined by having something to look forward to. Isn’t that awesome?

Everyone knows self-discipline is tough. To keep mastering your self-discipline, rewards will be your way to go. 



4) Remove Temptations

”Out of sight, out of mind.”

– Thomas a Kempis

By removing any distractions and temptations you have in your environment, you can focus on the task at hand without the risk of pausing and doing other things, strengthening your self-discipline.

Distractions and temptations can be anything such as your phone, laptop, potato chips, Instagram etc. One of these few could be your weakness too.

If you allocated yourself a 60 minutes intense study session, put your distractions and temptations out of the room. This way, you will neither see the distractions nor think of them, ensuring you are concentrating on your studies.

The fewer distractions and temptations in your environment, the more focused you will be with the task at hand. Do yourself a favor by ditching all the bad influences. 



5) Eat What You Deem Well and In Sufficient Amounts

After seeing the 5th strategy, you may be annoyed or confused as to why eating helps strengthen self-discipline. You may have also seen it elsewhere and you just don’t get why eating is a factor.

I was in the same boat as you. I did not believe in any of it and simply skipped through it wherever and whenever I saw it.

However, one day, I decided to try reading it as I had some free time at hand. To my astonishment, it could actually make sense after thinking back on past experiences.

Research has proven that low blood sugar often weakens a person’s resolve, making you grumpy and pessimistic.  This is similar in my case where I was frequently annoyed and my mind wandered.

When one is hungry, one’s ability to concentrate suffers and their brain doesn’t function as well. Their self-control is likely weakened in all areas significantly.

As such, fuel up with sufficient energy to keep your energy going and brain active.


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A former 'A' Level student heading into university next year, is passionate to help others excel in school! He regularly shares tips and strategies on various aspects of school, focusing mainly on studying, time management, and organizing.

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