Discipline has long been considered a valuable quality in our society. From early childhood we are taught to follow rules, adhere to schedules and meet external expectations. Discipline, when enforced, can certainly help maintain order and structure. But there is another form of discipline that is often overlooked but has incredible power: self-discipline.
Let’s explore the differences between discipline and self-discipline.
The difference between discipline and self-discipline
Discipline, as we commonly understand it, means following rules and regulations set by others. This often means following the expectations that others place on us. It can be both positive, involving rewards for compliance, and negative, involving punishments for non-compliance.
Self-discipline, on the other hand, is an entirely different matter. It is an inner quality driven by your own values, goals and ambitions. It is the ability to control your own behavior, make responsible choices, and be committed to your path forward toward your own goals, even when there are no external consequences.
Self-discipline is based on self-control, willpower, and the ability to resist temptation or distraction. That is, do what is good for yourself.
Why self-discipline is more important than discipline
- Your own intrinsic motivation
Self-discipline is rooted in what really matters to you. It is driven by your desires, not someone else’s. When you are motivated, you are more likely to put in the effort required to achieve your goals.
- Long-term success
External discipline may ensure short-term compliance, but it often wanes when the external pressure is removed. However, self-discipline is maintained in the long run because it is rooted in one’s own will to achieve something. It is the secret to achieving lasting success.
- Freedom and self-determination
Self-discipline empowers you to make choices that align with your values. It gives you the freedom to design your life, rather than being limited by someone else’s rules.
In the face of challenges, self-discipline keeps you going. It helps you persevere when the going gets tough because you’re not just following orders; you strive for a meaningful purpose.
Cultivate your self-discipline
Now that we understand the power of self-discipline, how can we cultivate it?
- Set clear goals
Define what is really important to you. Set clear, achievable goals that align with your values and desires. Feel free to write them down and look at them often so that they are in your mind and align with where you want to go.
- Create a routine
Establish daily routines and habits that support your goals. Tie a small behavioral change to something you already do, for example as part of your morning routine. Deeply understanding the meaning of consistency is often the key to building self-discipline.
- Practice self-control
Learn to understand your impulses and avoid distractions. This may mean saying no to short-term gratification in favor of long-term rewards. Feel how you feel about having been able to resist in order to turn the behavior of abstaining into something that feels good.
- Maintain responsibility
Share your goals with a friend or mentor who can help keep you accountable if you feel it will help. Accountability can strengthen your commitment.
- Learn from setbacks
Don’t be discouraged by occasional failures. Instead, treat them as opportunities to learn and grow stronger. Accepting setbacks and quickly rebounding is key to staying resilient.
While discipline has its benefits in maintaining some sort of order, self-discipline is the true key to unlocking your full potential. It is the inner drive that propels you toward your goals and sustains your efforts through thick and thin.
By cultivating self-discipline, you get to decide and shape your own life and the freedom to pursue your passions.
So distinguish between discipline and self-discipline and let the latter be your guiding force on the path to success and fulfillment.