Excelling is being the best you can be. The sense of joy and that feeling of accomplishing a goal is something everyone desires to have. Excellence is possible where there is discipline. The path will have some challenges but that makes it all worth it. If we survey the lives of prominent successful people, we would see how much self-discipline was essential in their lives.
What is Self-discipline?
Discipline is from a Latin word, ‘disciplina’, and a Greek word, ‘Paideía’ which both means education or training; by implication, disciplinary correction. It is training that has the ability to correct and make one mature. Self-discipline, according to the Dictionary of the Bible, is a loving and corrective training of oneself that leads to maturity and responsibility on the part of those who experience it.
If you are self-disciplined, then you are inflicting training on yourself to ensure you are better. In another profound school of thought, Discipline is from a root word, ‘krat’, denoting power. Self-Discipline thus means to exert power. The art of keeping your path, adhering to your plan, and exhausting your mind simply characterize discipline. You are disciplined when you do what needs to be done when you don’t feel like doing it.
“The only discipline that lasts is self-discipline.” – Bum Philips
Self-discipline has been an age-long causal principle for excellence. The scripture is an advocate of self-discipline. God desires us, as believers, to be diligent with what we have and where we are before he will advance us to bigger things. As simple as the principle sounds, the actual practice is difficult. This is as a result of the obstruction the flesh/body/self always poses. How many times you have listed things you want to achieve, but at the end of the day, lie idle. It is the self-discipline that translates our plans into actions and then to excellent results. It is a bridge to success.
“We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret and disappointment.” – Jim Rohn
Increase your self-discipline towards excellence
Self-discipline is not an innate skill. You can learn it.
Understand your current system
The first step is to understand the system you have been operating on. Learn what motivates you and what your bad triggers are. Recognize your weaknesses. You can ask yourself questions like – What are my weaknesses? What are the emotions I feel at the end of each day? A full dose of self-awareness is needed here.
2. Be motivated by a goal or more
Some people live their lives according to time and chance. You know what I mean – everything and anything goes. It’s time to join the ‘Goal Setters’ team. The advantages of setting SMART goals as an excellent young professional can never be over-emphasized.
3. Visualize your rewards
Paul was an extremely self-disciplined man of God. According to him, he consistently put his body under subjection, so he will be able to conveniently press towards the mark to attain a crown. Like Paul, place the Crown right in front of you in your subconscious mind. A strong force that would propel you towards excellence might not be anything but the gross rewards that await you. Hence, set your face like flint upon your crown persistently.
4. Have a productive routine
Habits you created have the power to create you. A Yoruba adage says ‘A man’s character is repaired by the man’s own hands.’ Design a conducive offline and online environment that would enforce discipline. Set timers on your phone for social media apps that engulf your time. Declutter your space. Remove those identified bad triggers. Make certain behaviors a routine.
5. Make a to-do list and track your progress.
You need to embrace a life of routine and organization. Making a to-do list sets the tone of your day, it helps you gain control over outcomes and help you live stress-free amidst the chaos. The kind of routine you’ll create will definitely depend on your personality and productive hours. Harnessing this routine would allow you to get your desires and be much more accomplished.
6. Practice self-denial
Our flesh desires comfort. The Scriptures give a clear exposition on how excellence cannot come with ease and folding of arms. Our body and Spirit are constantly waging war against each other as a result of conflicting interests. To win this battle, the desires of the flesh should be denied abruptly, and the intent of the Spirit be followed through. The power for self-discipline does not come from just admiring self-discipline or loathing of lack of self-discipline. The power for self-discipline is sourced from relying on the Spirit.
“No man is fit to command another that cannot command himself.” – William Penn
There is no way one can live a successful life and most importantly a Christian life by one’s will. Self-discipline is about bringing ourselves under the control of the Holy Spirit. Outward self-repression would only do little. There is power in self-discipline to make you excel.