If you are a person with a good amount of self-discipline, you have no doubt been labeled as prudish and boring, and maybe even excluded from some of the fun. After all, you abstain from such foolishness, right?
You and I both know that this label is not only insulting, but inaccurate as well. Self-disciplined people are usually full of hope and creativity, and use their discipline as a tool to accomplish epic feats. Theodore Roosevelt captured this well by remarking, “With self-discipline, most anything is possible!” But being boring isn’t the only misconception about the self-disciplined. Here are 15 other things only self-disciplined people would understand.
1. You are not better at fighting temptation, just better at avoiding it
Self-discipline is often defined as being able to take a stronger stand against temptation than a less disciplined person. Essentially, if two co-workers are staring at a box of donuts in the break room, the self-disciplined one abstains, and the other one doesn’t.
But according to a recent study, self-disciplined people don’t focus on deprivation; rather, they focus on managing conflicting goals. Maria Szalavitz, a neuroscience journalist for TIME.com put it this way, “Self-control […] may not consist so much of being better at resisting temptation, but at finding better ways to avoid it.”
To reuse our earlier example, the self-controlled co-worker avoids the break room, so they don’t have to deny the donut in the first place.
2. You are more satisfied in life than those without self-discipline
This same study found that higher levels of self control were linked to a higher level of satisfaction in life. So while the perception is that self-discipline kills all the excitement and fun, statistically this isn’t true. When you practice self-discipline you feel more confident about who you are, and get more of what you really want. It may take longer, but you eventually receive it, which builds satisfaction that is deeper than immediate gratification.
So while you may have had to avoid the donut, in it’s place you have created a toned and fit body that you can now proudly flaunt at the beach, so the satisfaction is deeper and creates positive feelings that last longer.
3. You get to do more of what you want, not less
When others are looking at a self-disciplined person from the outside in, all they may see is what the disciplined person is not doing, but what they often fail to see, is what they are doing.
Self-discipline is born from a desire to move beyond a current situation and to break out of a comfort zone. In order to do this, a person must decide what they do want out of life, and get rid of what they don’t. Most people run through life being entirely reactive, so they don’t realize how much they do things that they don’t want to.
You may no longer get to watch your favorite TV show, but now you’re writing the book you always wanted to. If you’d been asked whether you’d give up your book for the TV show, you would have said no, but by not assessing these things, you were unaware of what you were trading.
Because self-disciplined people assess, they get to do more of what they really want.
4. You enjoy conquering yourself
While the idea of turning down a great party so you can wake up early to go jogging seems like a recipe for negative emotions, it’s actually the opposite. You may be bummed you missed your friends, and maybe even doubt your resolve, but when you’re jogging towards your goal the next morning, a huge dose of self-respect and admiration comes over you.
There’s a thrill in conquering yourself. It builds your self belief and gives you a lasting high, which further motivates you to continue conquering yourself. This is no boring life without excitement, but rather a thrilling game of conquering your inner demons.
5. You live more fully in the moment
While a large attribute of self-discipline is that you’re working towards a bigger goal, the necessary focus on choices you’re making in the moment, requires you to be more aware of what’s going on right now.
Being aware of the moment allows you to experience life more fully, and you will notice more accurately how the people and environment you surround yourself with affect you. Because of this, you put yourself in more positive situations and remember them with more clarity. Which brings me to my next point:
6. You are better at setting boundaries
“A man without decision of character can never be said to belong to himself. . . He belongs to whatever can make captive of him.” – John Foster
As you change your surroundings to meet your end goals, you will begin to notice that some people encourage you, and others work against you. Having this knowledge gives you a better understanding of how the people in your life are affecting you, and since you value your goals, it encourages you to set boundaries against people standing in your way.
For example, if you are trying to change your eating habits, there may be others who will begin to sabotage your efforts. They’ll buy you food presents, or stock the freezer with your favorite ice cream. They may invite you out for pizza and a beer and make you feel guilty for not socializing.
Before you decided to change those habits, you may not have noticed this person was a catalyst towards unhealthy eating. Now that you’ve made a change, you’ll see this fact clearly and have the power to stop it.
7. You know yourself better than the average person
“Competing is exciting and winning is exhilarating, but the true prize will always be the self-knowledge and understanding that you have gained along the way.” – Sebastian Coe, four-time Olympic medalist and chairman of the LOCOG
There’s a huge gap between theory and reality. No matter how much you analyze the way you think you’ll react in a given situation, you don’t really know until you do it. Self-discipline forces you into action, and as you take the steps necessary to achieve your goal, you learn a lot about who you really are and what you are capable of.
8. You feel freer with self-control
“Self-discipline is a form of freedom. Freedom from laziness and lethargy, freedom from the expectations and demands of others, freedom from weakness and fear – and doubt. Self-discipline allows a pitcher to feel his individuality, his inner strength, his talent. He is master of, rather than slave to, his thoughts and emotions.” – H.A. Dorfman, The Mental ABCs of Pitching
Self-discipline is often viewed as constricting, but when you practice it, you begin to realize how constricting not being disciplined was. You can see more clearly how your culture, bad habits, and addictions were controlling you all along, and now that you are in control, you get to have more of a say in how you live.
9. You are more successful at achieving long term goals
Time and time again, when studies are done on successful people, the most common denominator between them is self-discipline. In an article, quoting 25 of the greatest self-made men in history, Sean Combs (P. Diddy) states,
“I’ve never been surprised about what happened to me. I’ve put in hard work to get to this point. It’s like when you become a lawyer – if you’re bustin’ your ass, you’re not surprised when you get your degree. I came in to win, you know. This is why I stay up late while other people are sleeping; this is why I don’t go out to the Hamptons.”
He has a net worth estimated at $324 million.
10. You have a higher level of self belief
Every little promise you keep to yourself builds a layer of self belief. The more promises you keep, the bigger you feel. The bigger you feel, the higher you reach – and the higher you reach, the more belief you build. It’s a cycle that leads to success.
This is why you’ll make your bed every day, or put your shoes away. In the end, you know that even these little tasks lead to great success. It may seem insignificant to outside eyes, but building self-belief is the key to continuing on and having what it takes to succeed.
11. You know discipline takes energy
When you’re low on sleep or feeling hungry, it becomes extremely difficult to muster up the willpower needed to overcome the obstacles in front of you. According to a recent study, every act of self-control takes a withdrawal from your energy bank. So the more you have to practice it, the more your energy for self-discipline is depleted. When that energy runs out, you can no longer have self-control.
Because of this, you know that eating healthy (and often), as well as getting a good night’s sleep, are crucial to maintaining the energy needed to practice self-discipline.
12. You still have fun
Having self-discipline doesn’t exclude you from having fun. In fact, you can enjoy fun more fully, because you don’t carry the guilt of knowing you’ve done something you’ll regret in the morning. You are fully aware that your priorities are covered and you can now relax and partake in the action.
13. You know that what you DO is more important than how smart you are
In a study of 140 8th grade students, it was found that students who ranked high in self-discipline outperformed their more impulsive peers on every academic-performance variable including report-card grades, standardized achievement-test scores, admission to a competitive high school, and attendance. More specifically, they found that self-discipline was more of an indicator for success than high IQ, which is generally thought to be more important.
While being intelligent offers many advantages, it can only take you so far. Having the discipline to do what it takes to get things done is what equals success. The more you practice self-discipline, the more you see this to be true.
14. The more you do it, the better you get
Because self-discipline is a culture in and of itself, the more you practice it, the more it becomes a part of your comfort zone. When you first started along the road of self-discipline, you were fighting your old culture of immediate gratification and the new culture felt uncomfortable. The more in control you feel, the act of slipping into uncontrolled gratification becomes an uncomfortable feeling. The scale continues to tip the more self-control you introduce to your life. This makes more self-discipline easier in the long run.
15. Nobody is disciplined all the time
While being self-disciplined is satisfying, productive, and easier the more it is practiced, no one is self-disciplined all the time. Knowing this fact helps you to forgive yourself for relapses and continue moving forward toward your goals. This “moving forward” after a failure is a crucial trait for the self-disciplined and one that is required for success. As Ralph Waldo Emerson so eloquently put it, “our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.”
Featured photo credit: Unsplash – Olu Eletu via download.unsplash.com