Tried and Tested Executive Self-Discipline Techniques

In-between work itself, worrying about personal issues, resisting the temptation to hit the snack station, checking emails, trawling through your latest business subscriptions and scrolling through endless social media streams, staying on task is a constant struggle. Throw the Olympics into the mix, and it’s downright impossible to concentrate.

Unfortunately, while self-discipline isn’t always easy to master, it is a key factor of long term happiness, and success. Not just from a business perspective, but also in terms of fitness, relationships and overall goals. Sceptical? In 2013, a high profile study by Wilhelm Hoffman revealed that people with high self-control are significantly happier than those without. The key reason being that the former group is far better at managing goal conflicts. Ultimately, they spend less time stressing over whether or not to indulge behaviours that they know are unproductive, and therefore the ability to make positive decisions is far easier. While some people use the excuse that they’re just no good at self-control, the reality is that it’s a learned behaviour. It calls for practice, repetition and constant integration into your day to day life.

So how can you step up and take control of your mindset? Here’s a handful of tried and tested ways to inaugurate good habits, break bad ones and ultimately, master the art of self-control.

Remove temptations and distractions

When it comes to self-discipline, the age old saying “out of sight, out of mind” has never been more relevant. Make an effort to clear your immediate working environment of temptations and distractions, whether it’s clutter, magazines, snacks or even your smartphone.

Eat smart

Research has proven that low blood sugar can jeopardise concentration, and therefore weaken resolve. Keep your brain functioning at its full potential by nourishing your body with healthy foods, and plenty of water.

Create habits

In his iconic book The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg explains that habitual behaviours originate in a part of the brain known as basal ganglia, while decisions take place in the prefrontal cortex. When behaviours crystallise as habits, the brain stops tapping into its decision making segment, and instead operates on auto pilot. So, if you train your brain to automatically function in high-focus mode, staying on task is markedly easier.

Forgive yourself

No matter how determined you are, there are always going to be times when your focus slips. When this inevitably happens, try not to be too hard on yourself. Intense guilt, anger, and frustration will only hinder your progress, and are no help when it comes to mastering the art of self-discipline. Instead, use your experiences to learn and grow, with a positive outlook always at the front of mind.

Buy a book

While we’ve tried to cover all bases, this is a wildly brief overview of the art of self-control. Delve deeper by investing in a book like The Willpower Instinct, based on Stanford University psychologist Kelly McGonigal’s hugely popular course “The Science of Willpower.”


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