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Young man doing push ups looking determinedWhat is self discipline and where can I buy a big jar of it?  Is it in the same aisle as the elbow grease?

It’s the ability to exercise control over our own behaviour.  This includes our thoughts as well as our actions.

How well we are able to exercise control over ourselves is closely related to self esteem.  To obey ourselves, we must first respect ourselves. 

We need to think our own decisions are worth following.

We also need to have the necessary confidence in our own ability to follow through on our decisions. 

And of course, we must make worthwhile decisions for ourselves to begin with.

So, the place to start when we want to build self-discipline, is with our thoughts.

Whims, cravings, excuses, the desire for instant gratification, destructive or negative habits and other obstacles can be overcome.  Our way of thinking, like everything else we do, tends to be habitual, and habits can be very easy to control if handled correctly.

To direct our thoughts in a more rational and constructive direction, we need to first recognise when they are not going that way.  Feelings are like a big flashing sign to let us know what’s going on with our thoughts.

If you’re not feeling great, what are you thinking about?  Are you shifting responsibility for your problems onto others?  Are you being judgemental, rating yourself or others?  Are you exaggerating and being a drama queen about something that’s annoying you?  Are you thinking with shoulds and musts?  Are you making excuses?  Are you ignoring simple truths that are staring you in the face?  Do you blame any lack of self-discipline on – well- anything you can think of?  Guess where it really comes from?

Pull yourself up and get real.  What’s bothering you?  What do you want to happen?  Have you already made a decision relating to this thing?  If you follow the decision will it work out the way you want it to?

If you remind yourself of your well thought out, logical, practical, sensible decision, which you know will lead to the result you want, it can be quite easy to change your thought habits to ones which will lead to you feeling like no self-discipline is required at all – you want to do it, you’re naturally motivated.  If you’re happy with your own decision, all you need to do is remind yourself that you’re worthy – that your decisions are worth following, that you deserve the outcome you desire, and that you’re capable of doing it.

If this doesn’t happen, look at it as another flashing signpost.  You might find that if you look at it, it’s screaming to you that you’re not really happy with the decision you made in the first place, and that’s why you’ve found it difficult to carry out.  It might be because the decision was about pleasing somebody else and not yourself (improperly motivated), or that the details have not been fully fleshed out and thought through and it’s too vague, or that the reasons why you want to do it have not been identified clearly enough, or that you don’t have the required time or resources available at the moment.

Being put off doing something because it’s about pleasing someone else, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad decision though.  It might just mean you need to take ownership of it.  The idea of, for example, cleaning up after each meal, doesn’t belong to your mother.  It’s not necessary to rebel against it, just make it your own idea and do it for your own reasons.  It’s not about what people will think about the state of your home, it’s about how easy and pleasant things are for you, in your own home.  It’s not about what other people think about how you look, it’s about you feel in yourself.

Take one item at a time, whatever is bugging you the most.  Perhaps it’s to do with getting up on time, taking regular exercise, your eating habits, keeping your kitchen clean, or how you deal with your children.  Set aside some time to think the issue through and write down your thoughts. 

What is the outcome you want?  Say it rationally, without any complaining or judgmental language. 

List the reasons why you want to achieve this thing.  Going into detail about the exact benefits you will gain will bring clarity to the idea and allow you to better imagine the successful outcome.  Knowing why is very important to your motivation.

Now, can you also list some reasons why you don’t want to achieve this thing?  That’s a bit of a scary one, and can be quite difficult.  You might not come up with anything, but you might find some enlightening surprises.

Do you deserve the good outcome that will be derived from carrying out this decision?  Are you good enough?  Are you worth it? 

What are the possible ways you can achieve this?  Make two columns on the paper:  what helps, what doesn’t help. 

What reasons do you have to feel confident in your ability?  You’ve managed it before?  You are capable?  You know how to do it?  You’re smart?  Have you set it up in a way that is realistic and achievable?  Are you setting yourself up to succeed, or do you need to break it down to something smaller to start with?

See if you can come out of this process with a fully thought out decision you feel confident with.  You know it’s the best thing for you, that you’ll feel better for it, and that it can reasonably be done.

The only self-discipline now required to carry out this decision, is to direct your thoughts in positive ways, towards respecting yourself, having faith in yourself, knowing that you are worthy of the good outcome you seek, and having confidence in your ability.

Being self-disciplined is not all about denying yourself pleasure.  If you see it that way, you’re doomed to fail before you start.  The achievement of something you wanted to achieve is a pleasure in itself, or should be, and you need to recognise that.  It’s a pleasure you deserve, and that you’re worthy of.  See yourself as worth more than the short term gratification of giving in.  If you really respect yourself, you’ll feel worthy of the bigger prize.

Next time you have a ‘failure’ at being self-disciplined, big or small, see it as a chance to have a look at what is going on with your thinking.  First of all, forget about criticizing yourself.  It won’t help in the slightest, it just reinforces negative habits.  Self criticism can be hard to recognize, because we don’t all think in words that can be identified.  It can be just a feeling, and the actual words to identify the thought are buried so far back we don’t see them, but they’re still there.  They tend to be along the lines of “I can’t do it”, “here I am failing again” and that kind of thing.

Set yourself up for a small success instead, to keep things moving positively.  Ask yourself what you can do now that will be worthwhile, and get on with it.  Let yourself enjoy the satisfaction of doing this easier thing which is still worthwhile.  While you’re doing it, or when you have a moment to think, assess what it was that was hindering you from doing the other thing.  How can you make it easier to achieve it next time?  What different thoughts and preparation can you do to enable you to do it next time?  How can you make it easy?

Easy?  Yes, why not.  Should self-discipline mean we need to struggle and suffer, do things the hard way, experience pain and suffering, make sacrifices and all that?  Not unless you’re cutting off your own arm to free yourself from certain death or something like that.  Why shouldn’t getting out of bed be easy, with dressing gown and slippers in easy reach, the heater on a timer, or whatever you can do to make it easier.

Look at self-discipline as you making your own life easier and better and more pleasurable, not as a chore or something to be suffered and endured.  It’s about you liking and respecting yourself, making and carrying out your OWN decisions, and taking full responsibility for your own life.  Enjoy it!

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"I am grateful to Yvette for the changes that she has facilitated in me. I feel that my learning from Yvette will stay with me for the rest of my life, and has brought me to a brighter, positive more confident and happy place in my family and work life."

Anshula Ohri, Toronto,

"Before I met Yvette I had many opportunities in front of me but I was feeling overwhelmed and I had no confidence in making the decisions.  I was feeling stuck and confusedd.  My career has progressed in a positive direction and I am now functioning better in physical and emotional health.  Thank you Yvette for your help.  This was one of the best decisions I have ever made."


Sarah Grudzien,
Melbourne, Australia

"The coaching with Yvette was very beneficial. In just a few weeks I had achieved so much. I am so thankful. I found Yvette to be very patient, professional and reassuring. I would definately recommend NLP now that I have seen the difference it has made to my life. I have left the past in the past and I am happier within myself."

Western Australia

"Your belief in me gave me the confidence to work out ways of improvement, knowing how important it is that these answers be found by me within me to enable them to be so powerful and successful. I loved the CD you sent as your voice is so easy to listen to and reassuring as it imparts great words of wisdom and strengthens the concepts taught within your life coaching sessions. These life skills are amazing!"

Lynne from Lowood,
Queensland, Australia

"I consider myself very fortunate having chosen Yvette for coaching.  It has turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made. I started from a place where I was stuck in procrastination and everything seemed so overwhelming that I didn't really know where to start.  I love the freedom and empowerment I now feel.  Yvette's methods are personalised and very effective.  I have looked forward to every coaching sesssion."

Melbourne, Australia

"Yvette is a great coach who inspires you to overcome the obstacles that she finds in working with you.  She is highly motivated and has worked hard to increase her knowledge in many areas that in turn help her clients.  Yvette draws on her own real life experience adn studies to help those of us who have to juggle many responsibilities and mangage the conflicts in thinking that come from that.  I am looking forward to working with Yvette again in the near future"

Liz Jarvis, CSI Business Solutions, 
NSW, Australia

"Through my coaching experience with Yvette I was able to shift my awareness onto my value system as opposed to staring at my circumstances each day and feeling pulled in a hole.  It's powerful because I want meaning, I want to live up to my values and what's right and good for me!  So, I truly learned the value of letting go and receiving the abundance of knowledge for every situation that gives life, love and meaning to who I am and what I can do, with this fearless self awareness."

New York, USA

"Yvette.  Many thanks for a wonderful experience... Our sessions were productive, really interesting adn I so looked forward to them each week with anticipation of what I can learn about myself and my behaviours.  Every session seemed to flow right on topic of what was present in my relaity at the time and your effortless guiding of my strategies never ceased to amaze me.  I highly recommend you as a life coach and thank you again for the experience."

M Shears, 
Melbourne, Australia

"I really questioned my future career ambitions and thanks to Yvette I changed direction from something I felt I had to do, to something I know I will love to do.  I was stuck on this topic for quite some time and Yvette really helped me shed light on this.  I changed the MBA I signed up for and feel excited about my careeer and all the opportunities in the future."

Sabine Mascarenhas, 
Wollongong, Australia