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Student Blog

The secret of self-discipline


Written by
Sinneh M.

It can be difficult to make good intentions into a reality when you don't have a plan.

calendar on wall

Self-discipline is an important attribute. Lack of it can cause you to set, but struggle to achieve your goals.

Perhaps the best definition of self-discipline was given by Elbert Hubbard, who said: "Self-discipline is the ability to make yourself do what you should do when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not."

In 2018, when I started implementing my annual plan, it was very challenging moving from one task to the other after a hectic day’s work.

First of all, I applied the principles in the above definition and completed some tasks. Some time after, I felt exhausted and could not move any further. I thought about the principle again, but it no longer helped.

With me being in charge of my life, I said to myself that I had done my best. My entire body was telling me that I could skip the few remaining tasks and finish for the day.

I forced myself into a different mindset, which is the key to self-discipline. The secret was to pretend I was not in control. I pretended that my annual plan, which has been carefully designed to get me to my desired future, was in charge instead. Through this, I discovered a new way of looking at self-discipline that actually worked for me.

The key to making this work lies in how I actually construct my plan. The process is rigorous and very formal and there is a year-end evaluation to track progress. I start it around mid-December and finalise it towards the end of December. I involve my friends and make sure they also do theirs. We all type and print the final plans and have them signed with an effective date, normally 1st January on the upcoming year. However, plans can only be realised if they are translated into daily objectives and this is probably the biggest secret in achieving any plan. Based on the plan, a daily objective sheet is prepared every month, reflecting all the actions to be taken each day if the plan is to be achieved. There are boxes against each activity which should be ticked off each day to indicate accomplishment of the tasks.

The discipline is that every box that is to be ticked should completed, whether or not I feel like completing it. We monitor these sheets to ensure everyone is on track with their goals. Because of the significance given to personal development within my team of friends, there is no room for not having the box for studies ticked off each day, and because of this, I complete in full my study objectives each and every day. This has helped me to mostly cover all my notes on time and provide me sufficient time to complete my coursework with good grades.

We read all sort of quotes on self-discipline, but they often don’t work because subconsciously we still know we have the freedom to act or not act. Unless you have a plan and stick to it, you may never accomplish the goals you have set yourself.

I leave you with my own quote, that “Self-discipline is not what you feel like doing, but what your plan says you should do!’’

This is the principle I have consistently applied in my studies with the University of London and it has yielded me great results!

Sinneh is studying the MSc in Professional Accountancy in Sierra Leone.