The “Brave New World” of the 21st Century requires a “Brave New Discipleship” strategy.

Self-Discipline: the key to personal freedom! Part 3

Posted on: December 19, 2017


Breakthrough Olympic Gold-medalist Jesse Owns said, “We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes self-discipline.”

President Theodore Roosevelt reinforced that idea when he said, “With self-discipline, most anything is possible.”

Self-discipline is doing the right thing when it would be easier not to, and without it, we are vulnerable to circumstances and people, as well as our own lack of vision for our life.

Two weeks ago, we looked at the fact that self-discipline is the key to personal freedom. Last week, we observed that self-discipline guards us against disaster and helps us achieve our potential.

This week, we want to look at ways we can increase our self-discipline. We would all like to have more self-discipline, but the trick is, “how to get it!”  Here are 5 well-researched and time-tested methods.

  1. Set a goal and envision the future

Don’t concentrate on willpower, concentrate on the ‘prize.’ Lack of discipline is really a lack of vision.” So wrote Rory Vardin, author of the New York Times bestseller, Take the Stairs: Seven Steps to Achieving True Success.

Unless we see clearly where we want to go, we will have no idea what the intermediate steps are to get there or have the motivation and the discipline to get there. Plus, when the brain has a goal, it will begin to see information, resources, and opportunities that it didn’t see before, moving us toward our goal.

  1. Take appropriate steps toward the goal

Once we have set the goal in our mind and visualized the change we want, we must then figure out what intermediate steps are needed to reach the goal and achieve the vision.

To do this, there are three sub-steps to take:

  1. Get help figuring out your plan, if necessary; books, courses, the internet, counselors, friends, etc.
  2. Set realistic goals. Unrealistic goals guarantee failure. Counselors and friends can help determine if goals are unrealistic.
  3. Take extreme ownership of the process. This means no excuses for the past. Own up to it. And no excuses for failure in the future. If we try one thing and it doesn’t work, we change the plan and try again. If that doesn’t work, we change the plan and try again. If that doesn’t work, we change the plan and try again, and again, until we find the one that works. What we can’t do is say, “I tried that and it didn’t work,” and then quit. If it didn’t work, we try something else. We use failure as a friend. We treat is as a learning experience to guide us to a better choice. We use it to make us stronger. We don’t take “no” for answer.   (Extreme Ownership, Jocko Willibank)

3.    Create a supportive environment

Our environment is a key element of success for building greater self-discipline. As we structure our environment to make it easier to do the right thing (we stock apples and peanut butter in the fridge) and harder to do the wrong thing (we don’t stock ice cream in the freezer), then our environment will make it easier to make right choices.

Also, we must be aware that self-discipline is a resource that can be depleted. When we are tired, or sick, or frustrated or tempted, we can burn through the reserve of self-discipline we have very quickly and run out. So we don’t want to unnecessarily expose ourselves to things that require self-discipline so that we will not run out of it when we need it.

So, we guard our environment to protect ourselves from tempting or frustrating companions, tempting or frustrating circumstances, tempting or frustrating activities, and tempting or frustrating surroundings.

Now, the reality is, we cannot always protect ourselves from tempting or frustrating things, but when we can, we need to do so.

And clutter is a major enemy. Research shows that clutter in our surroundings encourages clutter in our minds.

Research shows that creating the optimal environment is more than half the battle in nurturing self-discipline. (The Science of Self-discipline, Peter Hollins)

  1. Get an accountability partner(s)

The people around us have a major effect on us. So we have to be alert to two things.

First, we have to be alert to choose our friends wisely. Our actions are significantly influenced by the people we choose to be around.

Sometimes, it’s not only the people we surround ourselves with, but it’s also where we go to be with those people. So we must also stay away from places that strip us of willpower.

Then, we may need to get an accountability partner or partners. These might be people who are trying to achieve the same goal we are. Or they might just be helpful individuals who can encourage us along the way. (The Science of Self-discipline, Peter Hollins)

  1. Repeat the truth until it changes you.

Finally, and this is a powerful final point, we must renew our minds with repetition of truth and ideas that support self-discipline.

If something is important, it needs to be repeated over and over again. This repetition does two things. First, it creates deep neurological pathways in the brain allowing us to “own” that truth on a conscious level.

Second it drives that information into the subconscious, where the subconscious links it to other things that we know, and where the brain begins to see things it didn’t see before. This creates powerful changes in our attitudes, values and behavior.

The trick is to take principles and information about cultivating self-discipline through your brain over and over again. A first step would be to review these 5 steps daily until you own them deeply.  If you don’t have the discipline to do that, then work with a spiritual accountability partner who will help you. Do this every day for as long as it takes to see the progress you want. (Switch On Your Brain, Dr. Caroline Leaf)


In addition to these 5 “wisdom” principles for increasing our self-discipline, we also look to the Scripture, the Lord and prayer, and any other sources we can find, knowing that all truth is God’s truth:

  • We absorb what Scripture has to say about discipline (Proverbs 25:28)
  • We pray for discipline (Philippians 2:12-13)
  • We engage in general mental-renewal strategies.

Attending a strong Bible teaching church, reading helpful books, listening to helpful audio-books, attending classes or seminars either online or in person, watching inspiring movies, spending time in nature, spending time with enriching friends, are all additional things that will take nurturing thoughts through our minds, renewing our minds and transforming our lives.

As we submit our hearts to the Scripture, to truth, and to the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and as we use wisdom principles to increase our self-discipline, the Lord will build into our lives self-discipline, a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)

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