Five Common Mistakes that Ruin Self-Discipline

22.09.2016 |

Episode #9 of the course The fundamentals of self-discipline by Martin Meadows.


Welcome to the ninth lesson of the course!

Today I’ll reveal the most common mistakes that ruin self-discipline. As I already mentioned yesterday, prevention is better than cure, and it’s no different if you want to build more self-control.

1. The first common mistake people make is relying on their willpower instead of planning for temptations. Instead of relying on your willpower alone, plan for temptations and put roadblocks in their way.

If you’re on a diet, don’t keep unhealthy food in your cupboard. Give it away or discard it so you won’t have to deal with the temptation to eat it.

2. The second common mistake is the false hope syndrome in which you have unrealistic expectations about the speed, amount, ease, and consequences of the changes you’ll make in your life. People who fall victim to this syndrome frequently try to change themselves, only to fail each and every time because they’ve set impossible goals.

No matter how self-disciplined you are, if you have unrealistic expectations, you’ll fail. Consequently, it’s important to be aware of this phenomenon and always research what kind of results you can realistically achieve. If you take things step by step instead of trying to reach for the moon right away, you’ll save yourself a lot of discouragement.

3. The third common pitfall to look out for is underestimating the impact of stress. An Australian study on students shows that students who were stressed because of their exams neglected healthy habits like maintaining a proper diet, getting enough sleep, and exercising. They also smoked more, consumed more caffeine, struggled with controlling their emotions, and paid less attention to household chores, self-care habits, commitments, and spending.

Stress affects how much self-control you have. If you fail to take care of your mental health, your self-discipline will deteriorate. Prevent this situation by introducing stress-reducing habits in your life. Each day, spend at least thirty minutes doing relaxing activities. Meet with friends. Read a book. Listen to music. Meditate. Exercise. Cuddle. Take a walk in the woods.

4. The fourth common mistake to avoid is neglecting the sustainability of your changes. You might be tempted to introduce several extreme changes in your life and expect them all to stick for however long you want.

The truth is that everybody—including the most self-disciplined people in the world—need to take regular breaks and let go from time to time. If you don’t think about the sustainability of your resolutions, you won’t develop long-term self-discipline.

To avoid this pitfall, account for some leeway in your goals. If you want to lose weight, schedule some cheat meals or cheat days from time to time to give yourself a psychological break. If you’re working on a business, don’t forget about taking a day or two off each week to recharge your batteries. If you want to start exercising more, don’t run yourself into the ground because you’ll only grow to hate physical activity, and you definitely won’t build a lasting habit.

5. The last stumbling block to avoid is waiting for perfect conditions. Whenever I hear a person say, “I’ll start next week/month/year,” ninety-nine percent of the time, I know they’re doomed to fail.

No amount of knowledge about self-discipline will help you if you don’t get proactive. You’ll never be one hundred percent ready to start a diet, build a business, learn a new skill, become a better parent or spouse, start saving money, or look for a new job. Start as soon as possible or acknowledge the fact you don’t desire your goals enough.

This concludes some of the most common mistakes to avoid. Be on the lookout for them! Tomorrow, we’ll wrap up the course with some key takeaways.

Talk soon,


Recommended book

“The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play” by Neil Fiore


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