This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.
No matter how you look at it, getting things done requires you to do something that leads to a result. The ability to do things even when you don’t want to do them is called self-discipline, and you don’t need the willpower to do it. Increasing your self-discipline helps you to know yourself, remove temptations, set goals properly, act toward your goals with diligence, and let go of your self-limiting beliefs.
Becoming more self-aware so that you are certain of your strengths and weaknesses is an essential component t to mastering self-discipline to get more done. To accomplish this, you have to get to know yourself. Knowing what makes you tick consciously and unconsciously will help you more by far toward being self-disciplined enough that you’re able to reach all your goals.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Note Your Mood Triggers – Take a couple of weeks to monitor your emotions and moods. What triggers you to be in a great mood? What triggers you to be in a bad mood? This information offers insight into what you enjoy and are naturally good at doing. These activities make you lose track of time and feel fabulous, but also the things you’re unsure of and maybe don’t know how to do well, which make you act out badly.
- List Personality Issues That Affect Others – One often-forgotten insight is how your moods and personality affect others. While it’s important to know how it affects you, knowing how you’re affecting others is a way to become more self-aware. For example, if you find that rushing in the morning causes you to be moodier when it’s time to get to work, you’ll be more likely to find ways to eliminate rushing.
- Understand Your Current Place in The World – Look at your goals and compare where you are with what you want. For example, are you ahead of schedule or behind your schedule? Being hyper-aware of the truth of where you are now will help you more than anything because it puts time in perspective.
- Know Where You Want to Wind Up – When you look at where you are, it helps to know where you want to wind up to help with the comparisons and judgment of whether or not you’re on track or not. It’s easy to fool yourself if you have no clue of your ultimate goals.
- Note Areas Ready for Improvement – When you know where you want to go and how you want to look to others (and yourself), it’s easier to note the places you can improve. For example, if you’re moody at work due to rushing, how can you change that? If you’re a year behind your savings goals, how can you change that? If you’re ahead of a goal, how can you capitalize on it?
- How Do You Have Fun? – The things you do for fun are more important than the things you do for funds if it’s not the same thing. Living is about the fun and joy you can experience more than the drudgery and the work, although they all have a place.
- What Brings Me Shame? – As you go over your life, is there something that makes you feel shameful or bad about yourself? You may be taking the blame for something you have no control over. Analyze it to find out what you can do differently and how you can let go of the feeling.
- Who Supports Me? – Look around at your family and friends and coworkers –who is supporting you? What type of people give you support and make you feel upheld and worthwhile?
- What Keeps You Up at Night? – If you have concerns and issues that keep you up at night, acknowledge them by writing them down. Writing down a problem and then looking for a solution is a lot more effective than worrying.
- What are My Deeply Held Values, Morals, and Principles? – These ideals aren’t developed overnight, and sometimes people realize that the values instilled in them as children don’t gibe with their current situation, but the habit has made it difficult to change. However, it’s okay to reinvent yourself based on the new information.
- Ask Your Friends, Family, and Colleagues – Asking different people in your life questions about who they think you are is a great way to figure out at least what you’re projecting.
If needed, take a few of the psychometric tests available to help you get to know yourself better. While it’s open for discussion whether these tests are true personality indicators or not, if you take these tests and are honest with your answers, you can receive helpful insight into yourself. A popular one to look at is the 16 Personalities Test, a Myers-Briggs-based test.
Once you know who you are, you’ll also know what tempts you to go against the actions you know will advance your goals and dreams in a positive direction. For example, if you know that you’re going to be too tempted by social media notifications to ignore them, then you know you need to turn off your notifications.
- Set Up the Right Environment – Whether work or play, the way you set up your environment is a major key to success. For example, having a workspace is imperative if you want to make homemade pasta. Likewise, if you’re going to sleep well at night, having a cool, cozy, uncluttered space will increase your chances of success.
- Schedule Email and Social Media Time – Don’t leave email and social media up to “whenever” because whenever will turn into all the time. Instead, set times such as first thing, midafternoon, and last thing in the workday or evening to check email and answer emails for a set amount of time, such as 10 or 15 minutes. Then, suppose you get an email that will take longer to deal with; simply schedule it for the future using your calendar.
- Reward Yourself with Lots of Breaks – When you arrange to have plenty of breaks in your schedule, you eliminate any need to cheat or be tempted because you have permission to do what you want during your breaks. For example, if you have a ten-minute gap between filing and data entry duties, if you’re going to spend it checking email or on social media, it’s not a big deal as long as you listen to your timers and stop when you’re supposed to.
- Trick Your Brain into Cooperating – Do task three instead of task one on your to-do list, just do a task for two minutes, or try a time management method like the Pomodoro method, which asks that you work in 25-minute sets or Pomodoros up to three in a row with a short five-to-ten-minute break in between and a longer 25-minute break after three in a row.
Remember, humans, are incapable of multitasking. When you think you’re multitasking, you’re just switching tasks and not very efficiently either. To succeed at reducing temptation, learn as much as you can about human nature and how your brain works. When you understand more about how your brain works, you’ll be able to break free from prior constraints borne from ignorance. Now you really can get more done in less time because you avoid temptation, don’t multitask, and use the right tools to get the tasks done that need to be done.
Set Smart Goals
One of the best skills to develop to increase productivity but not work harder than necessary is goal setting. Proper goal setting results in a clear plan that you can follow that gets you to your goal because of your due diligence.
The SMARTER Goal Setting Method
The SMART or SMARTER goal-setting method is the best system to set goals that give you a plan to reach them. In short, the letters stand for a step that you need to set goals that are actionable and doable. According to the SMARTER goal-setting process, goals need to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, timely, evaluated and revised.
Requires Research and Understanding
As you develop each goal, whether short-term, long-term, personal, or otherwise, take the time to go through each of the letters to ensure you crafted the goal properly. Each step requires a little research to ensure that you can do it and understand how to do it.
For example, suppose you want to start a profitable YouTube channel about your hobby, soap making. You’ll need to produce a channel name, graphic branding art, music, and understand what equipment you need.
Helps You Know What It Takes
You need to take some time to write down each aspect of what it takes to start a soap-centered YouTube channel, which will include all the equipment you need, both for making soap and for making videos like memory, cameras, backgrounds, lighting, sound, editing help and so forth. Plus, ideas and a plan for each episode of your new channel.
After you get it all together and set a goal start date based on the reality of the time and resources, it will take you to get all the right equipment, film, edit, and so forth. Finally, you will end up with one big giant final goal, a bunch of mini-goals and benchmarks, and a calendar full of daily step-by-step actions that still result in the popular soap-making YouTube channel you dreamed of when you first started fleshing out your goal.
Helps Identify Problems and Roadblocks
Suppose at any point during the goal-setting process you discovered that you had an erroneous idea about how fast you’d earn money or how quickly you can edit without experience. In that case, you can adjust and change your goals based on the new reality, making it that much more likely to keep going instead of giving up when it gets hard.
Finally, using a goal-setting process will ensure you don’t miss any of the steps or skip over something that can point you in the right direction. For example, let’s say you wanted to add a weekly live stream to your Soap Making YouTube Channel, but during research, you realized your internet is not good enough, and no internet that will allow live streaming exists where you are if you need to do it from home.
This might sound sad or demoralizing when you first find out you really can’t do something you thought you could do, but instead, what knowledge does is enable you to find solutions instead of living in dreamland and finding out after you did all the work of the impossibility of your goal.
Now you know that if you want to add a live streaming component, you need to do it from another location or buy a new home or recording space with high-speed internet available. You need to invest in the infrastructure required if that’s a possibility based on your profit potential. Goal setting keeps you from following a path leading to nowhere if you use the entire method in the way it’s intended to work.
Practice Daily Diligence
Once you set your goals figuring out what actions to take each day will be simple. You simply look at your to-do list in your calendar and get going. As you experience success on each benchmark, short-term, and long-term goal, the experience of success will naturally build your motivation to achieve your goals.
- Focus Your Energy on Your Goals – As you look at your to-do list today that was developed over time, learn to prioritize based on your goals in a way that avoids bottlenecks and roadblocks.
- Give Yourself Enough Time – For each action you need to take today, ensure that the to-do list is set up realistically, providing enough time to set up, do the task, and tear down or whatever is necessary. So often forget to add in all of the time it takes to accomplish something and only include enough time to do the task but not the other ties required for travel or setting up and tearing down.
- Practice Self-Awareness – As you start to work on a task, take a moment to meditate or self-reflect about what you are doing right now and how this thing you’re doing is going to advance your goals or not.
- Be Accountable – A person who is not accountable might fool themselves into spending four hours playing around on Facebook while telling themselves they’re doing “social media marketing.” Don’t lie to yourself. Instead, tell yourself the truth so that you can make the best choices.
- Be Realistic – Sometimes, stuff happens to mess up your schedule. You have to plan for these interruptions in life as you make your to-do list and schedule. Children get sick, you may get sick, you may have a flat tire – all types of things can happen, so stay flexible and realistic about life.
- Reward Yourself and Celebrate Success – When you finish a task on your to-do list, you achieve a short-term goal or cross a benchmark – or even meet the big hairy goal – take time to celebrate your success. It’s that feeling of success that you will want to cultivate more of because it will create a habit of diligence in your life.
The cool thing about cultivating a habit of daily diligence is that small daily steps can add to huge change a few months from now, whether it’s a personal goal or a business goal; everything can be accomplished given the time and the daily steps toward the goal. The great thing is that the more you do it, the more you experience success, and the more you want to keep doing it.
Change Self-Limiting Beliefs
What you tell yourself about yourself tends to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you believe you can’t, you probably can’t. However, if you believe that you have unlimited potential and willpower, you will more likely do what it takes to achieve the goals you’ve set.
It makes total sense when you think about it; who wants to do all that work if you know you won’t succeed? Please understand that it’s not that you really can’t do something that occurs. It’s because you don’t believe that you can that drains the motivation to take the steps needed to achieve the results you desire.
So even though you can do it (whatever it is) if you take the right steps, the self-fulfilling prophecy happens because you’re lying to yourself and telling yourself you can’t. Since you believe you can’t, you don’t do the right things, and thus, you fail due to lack of doing.
To change your own self-limiting beliefs:
- Identify — Write down any self-limiting beliefs you hold about yourself, no matter what they are. Some examples of self-limiting beliefs are “I’m a failure,” “I’m unlucky,” and “I’m not good enough.” “I’m too old.”, “I’m too fat,” “I am bad at ____,” Whatever yours are, write them down whether you internally believe they are true or not.
- Challenge – For each of the self-limiting beliefs you’ve written down, take some time to research them and challenge the ideas presented. For example, let’s say right now you are “bad at math” can that change? Yes. If you want to learn math, you can take a class, get a tutor, and learn. In some cases, you may identify a limiting belief that you learned in childhood that is painful to let go of; this is called cognitive dissonance.
- Change – Try a new way of thinking. For example, instead of saying “I’m bad at Math,” say “I’m learning how to use math better in my life.” Try it for at least thirty days by taking a course so you can learn what you missed in school. For example, if you think you’re too lazy to exercise 30 minutes a day, do the opposite for thirty days to try it on to find out if it’s true. More than likely, after thirty days, you’ll realize you were wrong about your self-limiting belief.
Whether the self-limiting belief came to you through childhood or other experiences doesn’t matter as much as noting that a view is limiting you and then figuring out how to overcome it using honest facts and figures and not just assumptions based on your subjective life.
When you rely on self-discipline to reach your goals, you no longer need willpower. The main reason is that you know, due to adhering to a realistic process, that the steps or actions you’ve set up in your daily to-do list, based on your goals, will result in the deliverable you want.
When you know the actions wind up achieving the goal you want, willpower is unnecessary because you know doing will achieve the result you want, and that knowledge will give you all the self-discipline you need to get more done.