Mastering Self-Discipline

In preaching, they say the best sermons are the sermons we preach to ourselves. This is like that. I have not mastered the art of self-discipline. I’m totally a work in progress. This post comes about as a note to self to dial in some of the self-disciplinary measures as two things happen:

  1. I’m reaching the end of my jump training program.
  2. The holidays approach.

It pays to have some defined practices for establishing discipline. Really, having a plan helps success in nearly every endeavor. The following practices provide a plan for exerting self-discipline in the face of the holiday season (and life in general).

  1. Give myself some easy wins. The more I succeed at self-discipline, the more I believe I am disciplined. Self-discipline begets self-discipline. It helps to identify and pick off some low-lying fruit. So I don’t need to swear off all sweets right away. I just need to stop dipping my fingers in the candy bowl on my co-workers desk. Refraining from that for a couple days will provide some really positive momentum.
  2. Take care of myself. For me, that means eating often and healthily. The cheat to passing up on the free cupcakes in the breakroom is to already be full. So keep a steady stream of healthy snacks around, and keep grazing on things that it doesn’t matter if you graze on.
  3. Use a plan of rewards. Heading to the office hoping that no one brings in candy is not an effective plan for self-discipline. I need an idea of what to do when someone does bring in that candy. For me, I need to reward myself for not dipping into the candy bowl that sits next to my desk all day. What might that be? It might be that if I refuse the candy all morning, I can walk down to the ‘Bucks in the afternoon for a cup of coffee–which, because I drink it black, holds a lot fewer calories.
  4. Don’t beat myself up. I haven’t been very disciplined lately. Out of courtesy to myself, I’m not going to recount my discrepancies. Instead, I’m embracing today as the next opportunity to own this thing. Yesterday is past, today is new. Let’s get moving today and forget what was yesterday.
  5. Do it for someone else. I may get a bit cranky with the world when I realize I’m eating poorly and/or missing workouts. It’s hard to like the people around us when we don’t like ourselves very much. Acknowledging that I’m a bear to my loved ones when I don’t do the things that make me feel good about myself, I’ve come to realize that they benefit when I practice some self-discipline. My mood is better and I’m ready to engage with them more. So this self-discipline thing isn’t just about me. That acknowledgement provides some extra incentive.

I suppose that discipline is a kind of strength. Which means it builds in increments. It also means we have to flex it to get it. So where are you going to flex some discipline today?

Published by RyanDunn

Ryan Dunn has a bunch of certificates on his desk. A few are awards for content production and marketing. Another marks his ordination as a minister. One says he’s earned a BA in English from the University of Iowa. The certificate next to that says he earned an MA in Christian Practice from Duke (with honors!). Ryan is most proud, though, of the things he’s created: The Compass Podcast, some deep content on, a series of practical spiritual advice videos, a long-lasting marriage, and fantastic little boy. (He enjoyed A LOT of help on all of those projects, especially the last two.)

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