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How to Develop Self Discipline

  • Published: 2008-02-01 (Revised/Updated 2016-06-13) : Author: Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D.
  • Synopsis: Self discipline is a character trait People with this trait are willing to sacrifice drive themselves hard and be convicted to a passionate cause.

Quote: "Think of a typical day and picture yourself doing a task where you really need to push yourself to get the job done."

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Self-discipline is a character trait. People with this trait are willing to sacrifice, drive themselves hard, and be convicted to a passionate cause.

Think of a typical day and picture yourself doing a task where you really need to push yourself to get the job done. What goes through your mind as you make the extra effort and spend a little more time? To what extent do you think you are self-disciplined

I had an opportunity a few weeks ago to discuss this virtue with a group of 15 people in my community at our public library. I was invited by a newly formed book club, the Gahanna Coalition for Character and Citizenship that met for the first time that night. The group had read my book, "Take Back Your Life!" and asked me to share my perspective of self-discipline with them.

Authors are flattered to be invited to meet those people who read their books. For me, it was especially exciting to have a chance to meet people who lived and worked nearby.

I shared with them a basic premise. We are often motivated to do things based on our avoidance of pain and desire for pleasure. I explained that the drive to avoid physical pain was one of the strongest drives for me early in my recovery from a spinal cord injury. I needed to stabilize my life and manage the pain through medications and physical and occupational therapy.

I also shared with them my dedication to my recovery as a result of what my doctor told me immediately after my injury. He explained that I had a two year window of opportunity in which the most recovery would occur. After that, typically a patient with my level of injury usually does not notice much improvement.

A woman in the book club asked me if my self-discipline would have been different had my doctor not told me that I had a two year window of opportunity to recover from my paralysis. What if I had been told that recovery was not likely? What if I were told that the window was one year instead of two? What if no one ever brought up the subject of my expected recovery and I was left to my own imagination

I believe this frank discussion about a time limit was critically important in my recovery and gave me the hope that someday I would walk again.

I went to therapy three days a week for two years and followed a structured exercise program at home daily. I worked out with a personal trainer at my local gym, and learned adapted sports like skiing and biking. I wanted my life back and I believed that it was up to me to take back my life. I was willing to do whatever it took to restore my body to the way it was prior to my injury. I knew the clock was ticking. Motivation pumped through my veins.

My single-minded focus became my recovery. I immersed myself into daily physical therapy, strength training, stretching and movement. Commitment was intense and so were my workouts.

We need to look at our lives periodically and see where we are falling short of our own expectations. What timelines have we set for ourselves? How much will power are we putting towards our efforts

As we create short term goals, we need to work towards them diligently. Sure it will take self-discipline, but we must be driven by the eventual rewards of our hard work.

Sometimes it is easier to break down a big goal into baby steps. The task can be brought down to a more manageable size on a daily and weekly basis. The laser focus of the motive we had in the first place must be a clear vision in our mind's eye.

Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D. is a speaker and writer. To book her to speak at a conference, or to subscribe to her free monthly inspirational column, go to:

Rosemarie conducts presentations that bring out the best in people, to help them achieve goals, and take charge of their lives. Rosemarie helps her audiences discover their inner strength. Her core message is focused on sharing information, strategies, and life lessons that provide the tools to LIVE LIFE WITH CONVICTION. She is the author of "Take Back Your Life!" and is Ms. Wheelchair Ohio 2004. Rosemarie would like to receive your comments about the impact her article has made on your life. Write her at:

Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D.
1008 Eastchester Dr.
Columbus, OH 43230-6230
Phone (614) 471-6100
Fax (614) 471-5575

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