By N.K.A. Ballal, Retd. Sr. Vice-President, ITDC
One walks into a dinner engagement. After the dinner is over, you notice a young man or a woman pick up their plates and politely ask their hostess if they can wash and keep back their dinner plates. How do you react? Wow, what an upbringing? Is this something in-born and genetic? Of course not. It is something taught, observed and inculcated, that is, self-discipline. It’s no rocket science.
There are many important qualities that can contribute to a person’s achievements and happiness, but there is only one that begets sustainable, long-term success in all aspects of life: self-discipline. Whether in terms of your diet, fitness, work ethics or relationships, self-discipline is the number one trait needed to accomplish goals, lead a healthy lifestyle and ultimately be happy and make others around you happy too.
When I was in service, I had a reputation of not coming late even for a morning shift at 6am, come rain or shine. The same trait continued all through my service. It became a habit and I could not think of going late even for a train journey or a movie? How did I develop this? No magic, a small stint of NCC in my school days did the trick. Automatically all people connected with you like your better -half, children, colleagues, subordinates also fall in line and develop this habit.
Self-discipline is required in all aspects of one’s life even while doing things like consuming liquor. A person with self-discipline will never get drunk even if he or she has to consume liquor. They do it in moderation to keep company or decorum.
People with high self-control are happier than those without. These people spent less time debating whether to indulge in behaviours detrimental to their health and are able to make positive decisions more easily. The self-disciplined did not allow their choices to be dictated by impulses or feelings. Instead, they made informed, rational decisions on a daily basis without feeling overly stressed or upset.
Despite what many may think, self-discipline is a LEARNED BEHAVIOUR. It requires practice and repetition in your day-to-day life. To improve your own self-discipline, test out these 5 proven methods for gaining better control. This regimen will help you establish good habits, break bad ones and improve your control by making simple changes to your everyday routine. Improved self-discipline will allow you to live a freer life by helping you to make healthy choices, not emotional ones. Give it a shot.
- Remove temptations: Self-control is often easiest when abiding by the old saying, “Out of sight, out of mind.” Removing all temptations and distractions from your environment is a crucial first step when working to improve your self-discipline. If you are trying to have better control of your eating, toss the junk food. Eat healthy food as much as possible. Easier said than done.
If you want to improve your focus while working, turn off your cell phone and remove the clutter from your desk. If by chance you have to turn off your facebook, do it.
- Eat regularly and healthily: Studies have shown that low blood sugar often weakens a person’s resolve. When you’re hungry, your ability to concentrate suffers as your brain is not functioning to its highest potential. Hunger makes it difficult to focus on the tasks at hand, not to mention making you grumpy and pessimistic. In order to stay on track, make sure that you are well fuelled throughout the day with healthy snacks and meals every few hours. In service, I personally made sure to always have some roasted chana on hand. Eating often regulates your blood sugar levels and improves your decision-making skills and concentration.
- Don’t wait for it to “feel right”: Improving your self-discipline means by changing up your normal routine which can be uncomfortable and awkward. When a behaviour becomes habit, we stop using our decision-making skills and instead function on auto-pilot. Therefore, breaking a bad habit and building a new habit not only requires us to make active decisions, it will feel wrong. Your brain will resist the change in favour of what it has been programmed to do. The solution? Keep on trying. It will happen.
- Schedule breaks, treats and rewards for yourself: Self- discipline does not mean your new regimen needs to be entirely hard core. In fact, giving yourself zero wiggle room often results in failures, disappointments and giving into your old ways. While practicing self-control, schedule specific breaks, treats and rewards for yourself.
Dieting? Designate Saturday as masala dosa day. Trying to lose weight? Treat yourself with a fancy massage after a month of gym trips. Working on controlling your spending? Allow yourself a Rs. 500 splurge at the mall on Sunday (Leave the credit card at home and bring cash only).
- Forgive yourself and move forward: Instituting a new way of thinking won’t always go according to plan. You will have ups and downs, fabulous successes and flat out failures. The key is to keep moving forward. When you have a setback, acknowledge what caused it and move on. It is easy to get wrapped up in guilt, anger or frustration, but these emotions will not help build improve self-discipline. Instead, use the hiccups in your plan as learning experiences for the future. Forgive yourself and get back in the saddle ASAP. The longer you’re off your game, the harder it is to keep going in a positive direction.
To conclude, SELF-DISCIPLINE STARTS FROM YOUR OWN HOME. Who are the biggest copycats in the world. It’s your own children. For every child their parents are the role models and they copy the mannerisms, discipline etc. So it is important that parents change themselves and ensure that the children are taught self-discipline from their very young formative age. Every parent want their wards to be a first ranker and know in their hearts that it is not possible. However, if one inculcates self-discipline to their wards, the result can be seen all through their lives. The harsh truth is that if you live a bindaas life, you cannot expect your children to be self-disciplined. A self-disciplined child can survive in this harsh world, even if he or she is not a first ranker. Sports, martial arts or a stint in ncc does help. Do you agree?