Self-Discipline at Work

October 22, 2018
Self-Discipline at Work


Referring to our ability to succeed at any life endeavor, Aristotle once said, “Good habits formed at youth make all the difference.”

At the root of any successful person, is self-discipline. Whether it’s success in their personal, professional or other life activities, it starts with an intention to be self-disciplined. Thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and habits, must all be kept in check!

Successful people have learned how to use self-discipline to attain desired goals. So can you!

Do You Have Self-Control?
Answer yes or no.

  1. I’m pretty good at resisting temptations to go out for lunch when I need to complete a project before leaving work.
  2. I have a hard time breaking bad habits such as chewing gum when I meet with clients.
  3. I often say things at work without thinking.
  4. I behave inappropriately at employer social gathering, at times.
  5. If something at work is fun, I’ll probably do it, even if I know my supervisor may not approve.
  6. I refuse to eat junk foods at coffee breaks.
  7. I’m good at working toward long-term work goals.
  8. I sometimes I call in sick even if I’m not.
  9. Occasionally, I can’t stop myself from taking home office supplies even if I know it’s wrong.
  10. Co-workers say I have amazing self-discipline.
  11. Computer games sometimes keep me from getting work done.
  12. At times, I do more than my share of the work so tend to get burned out.

Scoring and Interpretation: 1 point for each ‘yes’ statements 1, 6, 7, and 10; and each ‘ no’ statements 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 11, and 12. Add your scores. The higher your score the more self-control you seem to have. To strengthen self-discipline, try suggestions below:

Until recently, research on self-control focused almost exclusively on the benefits of having a lot of it. People who are good at keeping themselves in line also tend to be more successful in school and work; they also have better physical and mental health.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to be quite so perfect all the time and some newer studies are now investigating the negative side of having too much self-control including the tendency of supervisors to have high expectations on workers with good self discipline, and people dumping too much work on colleagues with higher self control.

How can one person be so conscious of what they do daily while others simply throw caution to the wind? The answer to this question lies in our habits. Since about forty percent of our behavior is habit-driven, you must break bad habits.

We spend years etching neural pathways in our brains. These pathways take on specific functions such as cycling, smoking, or preparing coffee lattes. Neural pathways automate repeated behaviors in an effort to reduce the conscious-processing power in the mind. This allows the mind to focus on newer things rather than the mundane.

Developing Self Discipline

  • Think positively Think and talk about what you want. View setbacks as learning opportunities. Every time you hear your inner voice criticize, think of something positive to say such as “I’m learning.” Listen in inspirational tapes; read motivational books. Begin each day with positive thoughts. Associate with optimistic, supportive people.
  • Strengthen confidence. Know and accept yourself. Prepare a list of positive achievements and personality characteristics. Post this where you can read it daily.
  • Reward yourself. Each morning think of something positive to do for yourself. Every time you pull through a challenging or negative experience, give yourself a treat.
  • Enjoy success. Measure yourself by what you have done, what you are doing, and what you can do. Keep a daily, weekly, or monthly record of your accomplishments and build on these. Each day do something a little better than yesterday. The exhilaration of achievement will make you feel good.
  • Build desired self-discipline habits. Start small. Repeat desired habits daily. Instead of promising a full 45-minute work out every day, commit to a 5-minute walk around the block. But ensure the workout is exercised every day. This is easy to do because it’s small.
  • Set short and long-term goals. Write these down. Ensure they’re specific and measurable. Develop a plan indicating how you will attain these. Track your progress towards goal attainment. It’s harder to get distracted when you can see the results. And your subconscious mind will find less ways to lie to you or help you cover up the truth. Every morning, create daily goals, identify the most important task that needs to be done during the day. Act.
    Ensure your goal is consistent with your purpose. Intend to achieve these. “I intend to lose 10 pounds by February 15, 2019.” “I’m enrolling in a computer programming class offered by Institution X on January 22, 2019.” Visualize your goals. See yourself completing the computer programming course with competence and confidence.
  • Make choices in advance. If your goal is to pay attention at meetings, choose to leave your phone at your desk. You can’t play with it if it’s not there. If you want to become more self-disciplined about food, ask the waitress to box up half your meal before she puts It in front of you or choose to always eat just half of the sandwich.
    If you want to get on top of your emails, decide how many emails you’ll respond to before doing something else. Just decide before the situation presents itself and you’ll find it a lot easier to remain steadfast.
  • Make lists. Start your day with a list of daily tasks you need to accomplish. Everything from emails to grocery shopping can go on the list.
  • Use technology Some technology tools can help build self-discipline. Additionally, you can set timers hat limit the amount of time you spend playing a game, or on your favorite time-wasting website. Fitbit, for example, motivates people to reach health and fitness goals by tracking their workout activities, exercise, sleep, weight and more.
  • Plan and practice. When you make decisions in advance, you reduce temptations. If you want to stay sober and professional at the office holiday party, decide in advance that you will limit alcohol intake. If you want to eat healthily, grocery shop when you’re full.
    Identify ways to make the things you struggle with less available. For instance, if snacking on salty carbs is a disaster for your diet, don’t buy the potato chips.

If you know you may have a challenging time talking with your boss about a particular topic, plan what to say in advance. Then, schedule the discussion for the time of day when you both have the most stamina and self-discipline.

You will not make yourself perfectly disciplined overnight, but, if you focus on the forgoing, and keep mind, body and spirit in top working order, you’re on your way to success.

Living a self-disciplined life gives you feelings of accomplishment and confidence. You’ll gain a sense of purpose, inner peace, and greater control over your personal and professional life. Questers Dare to Change Your Job and Life by Carole Kanchier, offers additional ways of strengthening self discipline at work.