It often feels like we have two “selves” that present us with completely different desires. One part of our self feels motivated and inspired. This piece of us has visions of succeeding in our career, having healthy eating habits, spending money responsibly, working out regularly, and completing tasks on time.
The other piece of us loves sleeping in, enjoys reaching for that extra cookie, wants to skip the gym to go out for wine, spends money at the whim, and is a pro at making up excuses as to why you should do important tasks later. It’s impulsive, conceit, and driven by urges.
The Higher Self
The higher self is the part of you that governs your well-being, goals, and long-term success. This self has desires that serve your best interest. Some of the features of the higher self include:
- Strives for health and happiness
- Cares about fulfilling important tasks
- Will sacrifice short-term pleasure for long-term success
- Sets goals and aspirations
- Acts as a voice of reason
The Lower Self
The lower self is the part of you that governs your survival and short-term gratification. This part of your self wants to grant you the greatest fulfillment right now in this moment. A few features of the lower self include:
- Will procrastinate to avoid unpleasant tasks
- Will cave in to urges to activate the pleasure centre of the brain
- Wants you to have the least pain and most pleasure in the moment
- Acts as a voice of survival and instinct
Train Yourself Through Discomfort
Due to the differences between our two selves or two brain functions, fostering habits of self-discipline help you align with the higher brain instead of the lower brain.
Self-discipline is a practice that involves choosing discomfort or taxing responsibilities in the moment to reap long-term benefits in the future. Dismissing the survival brain and continuing to perform a task that you may otherwise avoid, can grant you the best success in your health, happiness, career, and future.
How to Master Self-Discipline in 6 Steps
1. Set your Intention to Practice Self-Discipline.
You have decided that you don’t want to hurt yourself anymore. Skipping the gym to sleep in, caving on urges for baked goods, or procrastinating on your work until the night before are all activities that fail to serve you. These decisions involve doing what is easiest in the moment and experiencing consequences later. Set an intention to align with your higher self as often as you can.
2. Set a Task to Focus On.
Our to-do lists can become overwhelming. Instead of writing a novel about all the things you should be doing, focus on one thing. Choose one huge priority, maybe the thing you have been dreading the most. Ask yourself why this is important to you and decide to discipline yourself to get it done.
3. Set a Timer for 10 Minutes.
Start small. 10 minutes is a great introductory time frame to get a task started. Beginning with a manageable goal will allow your lower brain to run out of excuses as to why you can’t give it a shot. When sitting down and committing to 10 minutes feels easy, set your timer for 12 minutes next time, and then later 15 minutes.
4. Do the Task or Do Nothing.
A trick to getting a task done is by deciding you have two choices. You can do the task at hand or you can do nothing. No procrastinating on your phone, no getting up and abandoning your post, you can either do it or sit down and do nothing.
This act of sitting and doing nothing for 10 minutes may end up feeling more painful than the task itself. Soon you’ll find yourself pushing through the discomfort and starting the workout or giving the meditation a shot or writing a few paragraphs of the essay.
5. Take a 5 Minute Break.
When the timer goes off, give yourself a 5 minutes break. Even if you feel like you’re in the zone, having regular breaks will allow you to see your productivity as easy and effective in 10 minutes bursts. You can look forward to getting back into it when your5 minute timer is up.
Get back into it! Re-enter your zone after the 5 minute timer is done.
This is How You Get Sh*t Done
Do you want to achieve your goals? Do you want to be successful, happy, healthy, or all of the above? Giving up on your dreams moment-to-moment for the easier option is not the road to success. You have to push through discomfort, give up temporary pleasure, struggle through a lack of motivation, and keep going to get sh*t done. Motivation is fleeting, self-discipline is sustainable.