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Mastering others is strength, Mastering yourself is true power

By Njambie Mungai | September 3rd 2012

By Njambie Mungai

If I had a penny for all the times I swore I would finish a task or project, I would probably be giving Gina Rinehart a run for her money and arrogant advice.

Many are the times when I will start an exercise regime and even exhaust myself going hard at it. Sadly, this endevour would last less than a week. I would then start learning a new programming language with a lot of zeal…only to reach chapter 4 and forget about it all together.

I have even decided to write an article a day, well that is yet to happen because every time I open the laptop, the internet suddenly becomes the most interesting thing on the planet. There are the times I have stepped into the office all geared ready to address the tasks of the day only to be pulled into a trending topic on Twitter or some stories on CNN that are too interesting to be read later.

Yep, you guessed it! I lack self discipline; in fact I‘am in dire need of mastering this art. They say that admitting is the first step in the process of recovery, so I guess I am on the right track. For many, myself included, the visual that comes to mind when self discipline is mentioned is that of a monk or a martial arts student deep in meditation in the Himalayas or Tibet.

Or endless days of hardships, starvation, incredible focus...in short we visualize self discipline as a lot of hard work. Apparently it’s not that hard...yea I just found that out.

Self discipline is the ability to overcome immediate self gratification or satisfaction for a greater cause. In simpler terms, it is the ability to stop yourself from cramming that black forest cake in your mouth when you are on a diet. It is the ability to avoid hitting that snooze button when the alarm blares off. Or the sheer willpower to avoid social media when you need to get a project done, among many others.

In order to be successful at whatever you want, self discipline is a major pillar of success. The lucky one who masters this art of self discipline is able to overcome common vices like procrastination and laziness. It also means that perseverance becomes a great strength. It might make you feel better knowing that self discipline is a skill, not a trait. No one is born with self discipline running through their veins. And the best part, it is never too late to develop this skill.

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Now that you have decided to learn self discipline, am sure you are wondering where to start. First things first, you need to have a goal or a cause. Whether it’s eating healthy, keeping fit, waking up early, sticking to a project to the end or just keeping a promise.

Write down your goal. There is nothing more powerful than a written goal because it reminds you over and over again of what you are working towards. Stick that paper somewhere you can see it often. Recite it like a mantra so that you know where you are headed. Include your friends or family in your mission. The good ones will help keep you grounded. If you tell them you will be going to the gym twice a week, they will give you the nudge and you will also be motivated not to look like you are giving up.

Learn to fight that extremely persuasive voice inside of you. That voice that will tell you to sleep for 5 more minutes, watch TV for a bit longer, that voice that will tell you that you have all day to get it done. Sometimes it will ask you why you are bothering, since last time was not very successful. It is still the same voice that will tell you that you are not good enough and what is the point of it all. That is the voice you need to learn to shut down. It is important to remember that you will not always win against this voice at first, but with time, your victories will increase.

Start on the tasks at hand immediately. If it’s a report that needs to be done, fire up the computer and open up the editor. Once there, start typing a sentence. Slowly push yourself to type a paragraph. By then you will be into writing the report that you won’t even realize you beat that small voice that was pulling you back. If it’s gardening, put your gumboots on and get the shovel. If it’s going to the gym, change into your workout clothes and start walking towards the gym. Get started on your goal.

Start small. Due to initial motivation and inspiration, you would like to start big. You want to do 100 pull ups every day, save 20,000Kshs a month or start drinking the 8 glasses of water every day. Sadly because of the intensity of these goals, you are bound to lose motivation after a short while. Start small instead, by doing 20 pull ups a day or saving 5,000Kshs a month and 2 glasses of water a day. Then once you are able to maintain this habit, gradually increase the pace. It is these little victories that give you the motivation to keep going.

Learn to deal with failure. I know this sounds like a buzz kill, but you need to realize that you will fail in a number of attempts. This does not mean that you are a failure; it just means that you were not successful on that one. Most successful people had more failures than successes, only that they did not let the failures define them. So learn to move on and have a better approach when attempting to reach a goal. Do not let fear of failure get in the way of trying to achieve a goal.

Avoid comparing yourself to others. This is bound to derail you from your tracks. Comparing yourself to your friend who is already living in a swanky, well furnished apartment while you are trying to save up to move in to a basic apartment is good enough reason for you to buy things that are not necessary and will mess up your budget. It might even leave you knee deep in debt as you will have taken a loan to bring yourself to a level you can’t afford yet. Your petite friends probably have a fast metabolism and don't have to work out, so you need to stay focused on you…go at your own pace.

Document your progress. Make a note of how far you have come, any major milestones and even include any challenges you may have faced. From that you will see what you did wrong or right, what you might want to do differently and whether the goal is still worth pursuing.

The most important thing to remember about self discipline is to start small. Do not expect to transform your life overnight by setting a lot of goals and expect to achieve them all at once. Self Discipline is like a muscle, it gets stronger with training. Start with a few simple tasks then raise the bar when those simple tasks are achieved. It might take a while but the rewards are priceless.

So save that Kshs 100  a week, do 5 pull ups a day, eat half a bar of chocolate instead of a full one, finish one in the many reports you have. The journey of a thousand miles starts with one step. Then enjoy the freedom that comes with being self disciplined. While I am off to master the art of not touching the snooze button every morning, I hope that your journey will also be as successful as it is enlightening.

Njambie Mungai
Runs her blog at  http://njambiemungai.com/wordpress/



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