Six easy steps to acquire self-discipline (Photo: iStock)

All great achievers in life have one thing in common - self-discipline. This is the ability to control and motivate oneself, stay on track and do what is right. It involves self-control, which is an inner strength and control of self, your actions and reactions.

It gives you the power to stick to your decisions and follow them through, without changing your mind; hence it is one of the most important requirements for achieving goals.

Steve Pavlina, American self-help author, motivational speaker and entrepreneur gives the five pillars of self-discipline as: One, acceptance or the process or fact of being received as adequate, valid or suitable. Two will power or control exerted to do something or restrain impulses.

Third, hard work which is the tendency to work diligently with energy and commitment. Fourth, industrious or working energetically and devotedly. Fifth is persistence, which is the act of continuing with an opinion and cause of action despite difficulty or opposition.

There are many areas in your life where you need to apply self-discipline. First, control your moods by ruling your spirit. A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.

“Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who does not control his temper” (Proverbs 25:28). Second, watch your words and tongue and you will stay out of trouble. “Those who guard their mouths and tongues keep themselves from calamity” (Proverbs 21:23). Third, watch your reactions by keeping a clear mind. Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs.


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A moment of restraint will spare you a lot of regret. “One who is slow to anger is better than the mighty; one who rules his spirit than one who takes a city” (Proverbs 16:32).

Fourth, watch your time by organising your daily schedule. It takes prioritising to be successful because you do not have time to do everything.  If you do not plan your time, others will do it for you.

“Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise. Which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in summer and gathers her food in harvest. How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of hands - so shall your poverty come on you like a prowler and your need like an armed man” (Proverbs 6:6-11).

Fifth, manage your money by saving for the future. The wise have wealth and luxury but fools spend whatever they get.

“I returned and saw under the sun that - the race is not for the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favour to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all” (Ecclesiastes 9:11).

Sixth, maintain your health by controlling your body in a way that is holy and honourable. Check your lifestyle especially what and how much you eat.

“When you sit down to eat with a ruler, consider carefully what is before you; and put a knife on your throat if you are a man given to appetite” (Proverbs 23:1-2).

To cultivate self-discipline, start by admitting that you need help. Apostle Paul says: “For what I am doing, I do not understand. Believe that God will help you. For we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.

Stand on the promises of God, which is the principle of positive reinforcement. For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.

Always decide in advance what you want to do - this way, your feelings will not interfere with your plans.

In addition, enlist a support system by being accountable to someone or a group that you trust to help you adhere to or cultivate self-discipline.

Focus on the reward and do not let anyone or anything derail or distract you. Apostle Paul equates life to a race and admonishes us to train and prepare for this race in such a way that we win the prize by focusing, training and cultivating self-discipline.

Self-discipline increases your self-esteem, energy levels and performance,  frees you from debts, helps you take care of your health/body, keeps you out of trouble, and qualifies you as a vessel to be used by God for his honour and glory.

Benefits of self-control include the ability to establish your inner strength, enable you to withstand temptations, heighten your chances of success, enable you to build strong and better relationships, and make it difficult for you to be offended.