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Willpower and self-discipline is essential to a happy and successful life according to a growing body of research.
Fortunately, there are ways you can increase your self-discipline and willpower.
In the book Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, Roy F. Baumeister shares research on willpower and how it can be increased and improved.
Below are 10 ways to increase self-discipline.
1. Limit Choices To Reduce Decision Fatigue
The more decisions we make during the day, the more we experience decision fatigue.
Decision fatigue is the deterioration of your ability to make good decisions.
This is why it’s much harder to make the decision to work out or work on your side hustle after work than before work.
The more decisions you make throughout the day, the harder self-discipline is. It becomes harder to not give into temptation and immediate gratification.
Limiting your choices can reduce decision fatigue.
Ways you can restrict your decisions:
- What you wear (colors, styles, etc.)
- What you eat
- What you drink
- How you spend your time
- What you buy
- What you do
- What you consume and input into your mind
You can also reduce the number of decision you have to make in the morning (when most people have the most energy) by planning and making decisions the night before.
How you can plan and decide the night before:
- Planning out your outfit
- Planning out your meals
- Planning what you’re going to do
- Setting up routines and habits
You can also plan these things with a weekly review.
2. Implement Forcing Functions
Forcing functions are things you can set in place to make it easier for you to take action or make it harder for you to do certain things like procrastinate.
They, in a way, “force” you to take action on your goals so that you have less of a choice in the moment.
This also helps reduce decision fatigue by taking the ability to make a decision out of the equation.
3. Eat Well and Regularly
How strong your willpower and self-discipline is depends on glucose.
When you’re low on glucose, your willpower is weaker so you’re less likely to have self-discipline.
One of the best ways to get glucose throughout the day is by eating.
But before you go for the sugary drinks, candies, and snacks, keep in mind that with high sugar foods, you’re more likely to crash which leaves you short on glucose and therefore self-control and discipline.
You can keep your glucose levels high and steady by eating healthy foods like vegetables, nuts, raw fruits, cheese, fish, meat, and healthy fats.
4. Get Enough Quality Sleep
When you’re tired and sleep deprived, your brain is being deprived of glucose which as I mentioned is essential for self-discipline and willpower.
Sleep deprivation has many other negative effects on the brain which weakens self-discipline as well as decision making.
Research has found that people who aren’t getting enough sleep tend to make poor decision, especially unethical ones.
So to increase your discipline and make better decisions, make sure you’re prioritizing sleep and getting enough of it.
5. Prioritize Your Goal
Willpower is a finite source, which means that it gets used up.
The more goals you have, the more willpower you have to use.
Setting too many goals is a big mistake you can make when you want to stick to your goals.
6. Create Habits
Brainstorm ways that little habits can improve your self-discipline and make it easier to reach your goals.
When implementing a new habit, make sure you start small. If you’re having a hard time still, make it smaller until it’s so easy and small you can’t say no.
Remember that consistency is key.
7. Think About Your Future Self
We tend to think about our future selves as complete and total strangers. This is called present bias. It makes us favor ourselves in the moment and forget about how we’ll feel and act in the future.
When we think more long-term and consider our future selves, we tend to make better decisions and have increased self-discipline for our long-term goals.
Short-term thinking reduces your self-discipline and makes it easier to give in to temptation and immediate gratification like procrastination.
8. Limit Temptations and Distractions
Try not to think about a white bear for one minute.
Done? How did you do? Did you go for a whole minute without thinking about a white bear?
It’s unlikely that were able to.
You more you have to restrain yourself, the harder it is to be self-disciplined.
Self-discipline doesn’t have to be hard or feel like torture. It doesn’t have to be a test either.
You can be more disciplined by taking temptations out of the picture and eliminating distractions.
The more your brain has to fight temptations and distractions, the more likely it is to give into temptations and distractions.
9. Practice Self-Awareness
The more you are aware of your behavior, the more likely you are to act with intention and self-discipline.
There is a major link between self-awareness and self-control.
Being aware of our behaviors can make us more in control of our behaviors.
The same goes for tracking, monitoring, and measuring your behavior and goal progress.
10. Stay Organized
Your environment not only affects how you feel. It also affects your behavior.
If your space is cluttered and disorganized, you’re going to have a hard time being disciplined and practicing self-control.
Research also confirms this. In one experiment, researchers found that people in a messy room were less likely to have self-control than people in a clean room.
Another found that people were more likely to give into immediate gratification just using a messy website!
This is why I make sure my website has a clean and organized layout. 🙂
Self-discipline is not something that you gain overnight.
It takes time.
If you’re practicing becoming more self-disciplined, don’t expect to always be perfect.
And don’t get discouraged if you struggle at first or have moments where you lack self-discipline after what seemed like a streak of strong self-discipline.
Developing self-discipline and willpower takes practice, time, and effort, but it is so worth it.