Self-Discipline. The Most Valuable Trait

By Tomiwa Adeyemo, Staff Writer. 

There are three words I’m certain we’ve all said or thought before.

Three words that have kept us up all night, words that we usually end up regretting the next morning and cause us to think to ourselves: “What the hell was I thinking last night?” Those words?

“One more episode.”

“One more episode,” was the exact phrase that had just crossed my mind as I hit the “X” button on my PlayStation to tune in to my sixth straight episode of the Hulu show Vikings. By the way, it’s a show I highly recommend, particularly if you’re a fan of Game of Thrones. At the point when I hit the button, I had been lounging in my chair for almost three hundred minutes straight watching the show. This was despite the fact that for a majority of those minutes, there was a tiny voice at the back of my mind screaming at me to get up and be more productive. Ignoring the voice, I immersed myself in the show, hoping the incessant throb of guilt would eventually dissipate. Newsflash: It did not. That in my experience is the funny thing about procrastination. It’s almost always accompanied with guilt, no matter how brief or fleeting. In my case, that guilt is what drives me to tell myself after each bout of procrastination: “I need to be more disciplined.” This time however, was more serious than others, and so I decided to google the phrase self-discipline. Let’s just say I got more than I bargained for.

I was watching Hulu but you get the point. Courtesy of A life of productivity

It turns out that self-discipline is one of the most important traits any individual could have.  It’s not an exaggeration to say the more self-disciplined you are, the more likely you are to succeed at anything you put your mind to. This of course isn’t a ground-breaking discovery. The importance of self-discipline is not a secret, it’s embodied in the story of every top actor, actress or athlete. Let’s talk about the athletes. Some prime examples are LeBron James, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Floyd Mayweather, Steph Curry and Tom Brady. One of the core reasons these athletes are at the apex of their respective sports is admittedly because they’re obsessed, yes. However, its one thing to be obsessed and another to channel that obsession into a routine of self-discipline that eventually manifests itself in success on the field. It’s another thing to show up day after day to practice, shooting a hundred three pointers each practice, such as Steph Curry.  It’s another thing to spend hour after hour practicing to correct a single mistake made in a game so it never happens again, such as Cristiano Ronaldo. And finally, it’s an entirely different (and to be frank amazing) thing to adopt one of the most restrictive and regimented diets in the world so you can still perform as a top-notch quarterback at 41 years of age. Now that’s discipline. We often talk about hard work but discipline; the ability to avoid acting on impulse, choosing to forego instant gratification and make productive choices is just as (if not more) important as hard work.

So, the question we’ve all been waiting for: how does one become more self-disciplined? There are a variety of ways out there to accomplish this, but I found what I think could be a detailed in a three-step process.

Step 1: Overwhelmingly it seem that Step 1 is to find a motivation. We all need to find that something that pushes us out of bed each morning on both good and bad days. For the aforementioned athletes, this is the drive to excel at their sport. For we mere mortals, that motivation can be found by constantly reminding ourselves of our long-term dreams and goals of what we would like to accomplish in our lives.

Step 2: Realize the importance and impact of the choices we make. When we procrastinate, we’re picking between two options, often choosing the less productive option. Self-discipline, just like procrastination, is about choice. Only this time we’re choosing to make a more productive choice. We CHOOSE to work on that project instead of watching yet another episode of Netflix. We CHOOSE to load up on unhealthy food instead of picking something not as tasty but much healthier. Discipline means realizing that we have the power of choice and consistently making the effort to pick the better, more productive choice.

Step 3: Patience. Good things come to those who wait. Discipline is a matter of relentlessly making the right choices, decision after decision, day after day and eventually, year after year.

To conclude, the value of self-discipline extends far beyond becoming a better athlete or getting better grades. Self-discipline is also required to become a better individual overall. How? Well we all have vices. Anger. Greed. Gluttony. Pride. These are just some of the basics. Particularly relevant to our society are Social media addiction, alcohol, drugs and the notoriously underestimated vice of pornography. Overcoming these vices requires self-discipline which would make us better individuals overall and more valuable contributors to the growth of our society.

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