Researchers have found that many things can influence our ability to be disciplined or self-controlled when we’re completing tasks, including our perceptions of difficulty, personal beliefs about willpower, incentives that are received, feedback on task performance, and even changes in mood.

Set Yourself Up for Success

So what should we conclude from this?  Willpower and discipline are, by definition, hard work!  There are certain conditions that can make it harder for us to choose the right behaviors that we know will help us reach our goals.  So set yourself up for success!  

  • Prioritize your most important tasks, and choose things that are less appealing earlier in the day or when you’re in a good mood when you have more reserves of discipline remaining.  
  • Consider your personal beliefs about the difficulty of your goal tasks and your ability to complete them, and if those things are holding you back, challenge them!  Set goals you really believe you can accomplish, and have confidence that you can follow through and carry out your plan.  
  • Decide ahead of time on external incentives that you can use to reward yourself – not just for reaching a goal, but for times when you exercise discipline and make right choices along the way.  

Discipline itself is something to be proud of!  So celebrate and commend yourself for choosing the behaviors that will help you reach your goals.