Self-discipline is what turns plans into reality

“If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.”

Scottish Proverb

Everyone is an expert at wishing for exactly what they want. The student who refuses to study until a day to the exam wishes for an A. The man who refuses to exercise wishes for a muscular figure. Some people go a step further to write down what they wish for. It’s called a New years’ resolution. After that, nothing changes because nothing happens.

For most people, what stops them from acting on their plans is not a lack of interest or a willingness to change. It is a lack of self-discipline. It takes great mental power to be able to say “No” to lying down at home instead of going to the gym.

A definition of self-discipline

More than talent, it is self-discipline that determines who is able to turn their plans into reality. Nowhere is the power of self-discipline seen than in the field of music. It takes 10,000 hours of practice to learn to play an instrument at a professional level. The amateur musicians who become masters of their chosen instruments are those who have the self-discipline to do two hours of dedicated practice each day for a decade.

Long before talent becomes a limiting factor in your goal, self-discipline would have weeded out a vast majority of people. Our self-discipline is often put to the test by two things:

  1. Resistance – Resistance is the internal voice that reminds you it’s easier to do nothing than to try something new and fail.
  2. Distraction – Distraction is your getting a sudden urge to check your whatsapp messages instead of focusing on the task at hand.

Fortunately, self-discipline is a skill that can be improved. Make a commitment to identifying what resistance you are likely to encounter as you try to change your life. Also identify the things that distract you the most when you’d rather focus. Just by being aware of them, you would be placing yourself in a better position to say “No.” It gets easier the more you do it.

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