Reflections on Self-Discipline and 4 Ways to Muster It

We know what self-discipline is, and how important it is for success in life. I remember starting on my journey toward fitness and wellness many years ago and kept failing because I was afraid of the complexity of the subject and the inconvenience it would put me through. Eventually, I ended up the ostrich with its head in the sand and. The problems came gradually. I lost my fitness. I lost my energy. I tried as much as I could to muster up physiological energy, but the problem was that I had nothing to withdraw from my inner physiological bank account.

By 2008, I had difficulty breathing while on stage. It was a horrible feeling. It became worse when by 2009 I learnt that my late father was diagnosed with diabetes and I with high cholesterol. The irony was that while I was willing to give up excess sugar, a clear cause of problems where diabetes was concerned, I had no clue how to work on cholesterol. So I ended up consuming less overall fats (which counterintuitively was bad for me) and did not study the different fatty acids we know as Omega-6 and Omega-3 (and of course I won’t mention Omega-9 or 5).

To get myself on track to exercise, I had to force myself to follow a schedule. I was having problems with my knees (yes at 35 years, ridiculous). Little did I know that I was getting a lot of things wrong where my fitness was concerned. So although I started to enjoy the feeling of exercise, it never really felt right and I stopped shortly after in 2013, going back to the minimal amount I needed to pass my tests.

Self-discipline is a tough one. I can’t say that I always have self-discipline. In fact in all my coaching programs, I keep emphasizing that you need to learn to translate your self-discipline into habit so that you won’t have to worry about mustering that energy.

I knew NLP for about 12 years now. But I remember being enamored more by the power it gave me to influence and communicate rather than to create results in my Life Stratoscope (10 core areas of your life). So I started to hack that area slowly. I read up about things to do with the mind and spirit and learnt that I was connected to a greater macrocosm of vibration and energy. I had to find the compelling reasons why discipline was essential, so that I could dive deep into it and be at peace with myself rather than fighting it everytime.

I won’t say I immediately found it. I found it over time, with the universe giving me different pieces of the puzzle to put together. I was quite amused when I found out my answer. I say my answer, because this works well for me. I believe everyone needs to be on a quest to seek out their own answers.

So the answer was simple.

As with many things in life, we see no need through younger eyes, and see with regret through older ones. I knew that if I did not ground myself in my health, I would eventually suffer terribly. By this time, in 2014, my dad had been diagnosed with cancer, and would not be able to witness his 79th birthday. With health, I would extend my life, the value of the life I could offer, continue to experience life and learn (one of my joys), and live without much physical suffering. And the irony is that in order to prevent physical suffering, I would have to endure the suffering myself.

In 2015, I bought a gym membership. I probably went there twice in the entire year.

In 2016, I started on a new journey. It was one where I would be opening new doorways into the interconnectedness of our life and the causes we put into our future effects – sometimes known as karma.

In 2017, I had a little bit of a renewal, finding new ways to grow my body, even though at my peak, I bloomed to 85kg for someone 1.75m tall.

Through the years of 2013 to 2019, some of the worst punishing moments happened in my life. Divorce, business failure, being emotionally imbalanced. Many of these things for me were some of the best things that happened in my life. And one of the realizations was the idea of self-discipline.

#1: Choose to be disciplined and embrace it.

I came to discover that one’s ability to be discipline first begins with choosing discipline. If you decided to commit to being disciplined, you have to first learn to be disciplined in producing results in certain areas. I remember starting out with learning. But then, I also realized that learning is easy, and learning does not always produce a result beyond you. I began to produce other kinds of results, and I realize that the best way to build discipline is to first build physical discipline. It is a doorway to test your mental and emotional resilience and pain threshold. As I grew in my investment in working out and improving my body fat percentage and strength, I was less obsessed with the numbers, but involved in the process. Get the form right. Get the mind-muscle connection. Sense the burn and hold it there as much as I can. It was not easy, but it was worth it.

#2: Decide what you want to achieve, then work on the small parts that lead you there.

Ambition is different than achievement. You need ambition to set a target. You need achievement to get you there. I find that the best way that NLP has helped me would be to utilize clear processes. We call these behavioral units TOTEs in NLP. I’ve made it a point to constantly work on my work and life systems by thinking about what I’m doing to a point where I can do it over and over. For instance, I have a writing strategy that propels me to write without having to think and get writer’s block. It’s served me for quite a long time, and now I have it down to a system. The greater reason for having my thoughts in words is so that I can arrive at being a go-to repository of knowledge that others can access and learn from. This is also why people come for my coaching programs. They don’t have the vocabulary from NLP that makes them excellent modelers. In fact, most people are copiers, not modelers. Most people who have studied NLP understand the concept, but have not really done modeling. I model my good and bad habits all the time, so that I can make a clear list of what I am actually doing. I even have digital references to refer to whenever I want to get clear on my behavioral output in business. This is the fundamental basis for ensuring you have a well-oiled work machine, and waste as little time as you can in creating the results you want.

Just like my physique, I did not build this overnight. The result is over 500 hours of video content. The effort was a constant fight inside my head for the last 18 months. I still fight this inner voice that tells me that I have nothing good to contribute and people won’t value what I offer.

#3: Narrow your focus on what you can do instead of obsessing with what you can’t change.

In NLP, we learn how to build the competency of emotional state change. Whenever you get taken away from self-discipline, it’s usually not because you are poor at doing. Rather, you might be unaware of the interruptions that chip away ceaselessly at your willpower. After all, a blinking light on your phone could shift you out of the appropriate state that would have gotten you what you want. While writing this article, I was aware of several distractions. Notifications from my phone. Random thoughts that got me to search a term or situation online. Inner dialog that made me feel differently about my writing than when I first began. Instead of distraction, I chose to narrow my focus. Literally, practicing the right state, sitting in the right posture and holding the right thoughts in my head enabled me to complete this reflective piece. In a sense, I have had to battle myself constantly in order to produce the results that I wanted.

If you are in a battle, fight the good fight!

#4: When you need a break, give yourself one without beating yourself up.

This is a big one for most people. If you have a good work ethic, you need good work rhythm too. Imagine no variation in a musical movement. Then it would be soulless. You need to apply the same thinking to whatever you do. You might be worried, but worry doesn’t support achievement most of the time. You might be frustrated, but this is often counterproductive, likened to taking a mild poison just so that you can boost your heart rate.

Self-care is very important in ensuring you are able to walk the talk and if you are a leader, you probably already know how crucial this is. I remember in 2019 when my father was barely months away from dying, I was in my NS ICT after an overseas trip to learn from Jon and Missy Butcher about their LifeBook approach to reflection for whole life success. My mind was all over the place because there were so many things to catch up on. I had to struggle to keep pace, and the plans I presented were wrong. It was embarrassing to see how far away I could have been in terms of crafting a support plan. Fortunately, the team was forgiving and making adjustments to the plan was not a very difficult thing. I had to cut myself some slack.

These days, I work with rhythm. When it is winter, I am using the time to prepare for my spring. And when it is spring, I do what spring requires me to do and I do it as best as possible. I’ve a long way to go, but like I mentioned, arriving at the destination is a moment in time. The process and journey is something that is more important, and keeping an eye on your journey is far better than realizing you are lost when you arrive at your supposed destination!


I came down to 68kg at one point. Now I’m back in the 71-72 range as I continue to build my physique up. It’s not an easy journey, and I’m still on it. I often start the workout cursing because I know I’m going to have to beat myself up in the gym. Given my goals, I start with 5 sets of at least 5 to 8 workouts now rather than 3 sets. If I do 4 sets I actually have an easy day! I estimate I will continue to do resistance training for as long as I can. I’m studying self-discipline in some areas better than others.

Keeping track of the smaller things in life are far more challenging for someone like me whose tendency is to think about the abstractions. So, in a sense, writing, content production and training is a go-between where I exercise some of these capacities.

The discipline to keep up with NS commitments is not always easy, and I honestly have two minds about it. One part of me says that I’m just insignificant in the bigger scheme of things, and that I should have just left in 2014 when I could have spared myself from more callups and more duty. The other part of me says that this is a great opportunity to sharpen myself.

I plan to stand and hold the space for any of my dilemmas and challenges. I’ll give myself the opportunity to do what has a nett positive on the world that matters to me. And as long as I hone that priority as a focus, I believe the spirit of self-discipline will always manifest itself to support the goals I aim for.

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See also  Foster Flowing Habit, Not Gritty Discipline

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