FM 10-7 Discipline: Field Manual

Self-discipline is the ability to give yourself a command and execute it. In other words, it is the ability to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, whether you feel like it or not.

In the first place, self-discipline demands decision. Be careful of making decisions based off feelings. Because feelings are simply changing emotional states. To emphasize, self-control (self-discipline) includes controlling your emotional state.

The Decision Train, by Peter Voogd, shows the right way to make decisions.

Right Way: Decisions to ACTIONS to Feelings
Wrong Way: Feelings to Actions to Decisions

In fact, most people do not even make conscious decisions. In other words, most people are controlled by their feelings. In contrast, self-disciplined people make conscious decisions in alignment with objectives and long-term goals.

In the following quote from the book, 6 Months To 6 Figures, Peter Voogd illustrates this point perfectly.

“Successful people decide what they’re going to do, they take action regardless of how they feel, and as an end result, feel exceptional because they followed through on their commitment.”

Similarly, self-discipline requires you have integrity. That is to say, you follow a consistent set of standards (values, beliefs and principles), which support your self-ideal.

Self-Discipline And Character

The person you are today is the sum total of all your choices and decisions in life up to this date. Each time you have made the right decision and acted consistently with that decision, you have strengthened your character.

In contrast, each time you have made the wrong decision and acted inconsistent to what your know is right, you have weakened your character.

The most important virtue you can have is integrity. When your level of integrity is high, you are more honest with yourself. As a result, you are more likely to live consistently with all values that you admire and respect.

It takes consistent willpower to always do the right thing in every situation.

“Guard your integrity as a sacred thing; nothing at last is sacred except the Integrity of your own mind.” -Emerson

What It Is and How It Works

What is Discipline?

Generally, let’s define discipline as the practice of training yourself and others to follow a code of behavior using positive feedback. Similar words to discipline are control, direction, order and strictness.

Similarly, self-discipline is your ability to do what you must do, when you must do it, whether you feel like it or not.

Two other definitions of self-discipline are self-mastery and self-control.

a. Self-mastery helps you achieve success by mastering your emotions, intentions and inclinations.
b. Self-control is your ability to control your actions. Likewise, controlling what you think and believe

The ability to discipline yourself ensures actions and behaviors are consistent with self-ideal. Not to mention, self-discipline is the mark of a superior person.

Common Misconceptions About Discipline

One of the most important things about discipline is that it comes from positive roots. In fact, its root comes from Latin disciplina, meaning instruction, knowledge.

It’s negative meaning comes from the Middle English meaning of “mortification by scourging oneself.” Obviously, this religious intent has no place in modern scientific thinking.

For this reason, in this scientific guide we will concentrate on the positive aspects of discipline.

How to Get Disciplined and Take Controlled Action

Many people struggle with the self-discipline needed to achieve their goals because they do not have a clear process. For this reason, energy is wasted which decreases motivation and willpower. If you want to increase self-control, then you need to schedule and follow strict routines.

Set and Keep Your Schedule

One important process to mastering self-control is setting and keeping a schedule. If you don’t set and keep a consistent schedule, then it’s difficult to improve self-discipline. Because lack of focus drains mental energy through decision fatigue.

Decision fatigue “refers to the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision making.”

To clarify, every choice you make (even unconscious ones) use valuable mental energy. To increase discipline for maximum success, we want to remove as many daily decisions as possible.

An article on motivation by James Clear describes the importance of setting a schedule on decision-making. In it he says:

“Setting a schedule for yourself seems simple, but it puts your decision-making on autopilot by giving your goals a time and a place to live. It makes it more likely that you will follow through regardless of your motivation levels.”

Setting a daily schedule is one of many important processes to increasing self-control.

Be Disciplined (Even When You Don’t Want To)

Everyone fights to maintain self-control. But, the most disciplined succeed because they set up and follow models, which make their actions automatic.

What are the major components of your life? In other words, what parts of your life can you turn into systems (processes, routines, models).
For example, starting your day with a morning routine that aligns with your goals assures you start the day with a success mindset. As a result, with consistent practice self-discipline will become a habit.

Make Discipline a Constant Practice

Your habits define you. If you want to understand someone, then look at their habits. In fact, negative habits result in negative outcomes. In contrast, positive habits result in positive outcomes.

Self-control requires many positive habits. Consequently, you can’t have a few positive habits and increase self-disciple. Increasing it takes constant practice of many positive processes (programs, habits).

Key Point: Stay disciplined for the long-term. We want to make strict self-control a long-term habit. For this reason, we must practice using the right processes to achieve our objectives.

How to Stay Disciplined by Using Strategies

A strategy is a plan of action to achieve a major aim. In other words, we want a master plan, program or procedure to stay disciplined.

First, make the decision to increase self-control. Commit to increase self-discipline. If you make a true decision, then you eliminate all alternatives to your decision. The truly powerful individuals are decisive and disciplined. In fact, they expect to control their outcomes.

Second, expect to reach self-mastery. Positive expectation sends positive signals to your brain that increase motivation and willpower. Expect to succeed and you will. Expect to increase discipline and you will. Expect good things to happen and they will.

Third, set and follow routines daily. Be consistent. Clearly, you want to create routines that support achieving your goals. Positive routines develop positive habits, which bring positive results.

By taking strategic action consistently, you will be on the path to reach peak discipline. When you reach this point your sense of control will keep you on the highest path.

How to Reach Peak Discipline

Peak discipline is the mark of self-mastery. Of course, self-mastery is the result of hours of practice. Consequently, to achieve peak self-control you will need to consistently monitor yourself.

To clarify, in order to reach a peak state of performance, it is important to measure progress and monitor feedback. By doing both we can track if we are improving or not.

Furthermore, measuring progress and monitoring feedback allows you to build more efficient systems, which in turn helps you reach peak discipline.

What to Do When Discipline Weakens

Personal excellence requires constant growth and progress. It is defined by your ability to find solutions to life situations. Because positive and negative influences will always exist, discipline requires positive repetition.

“We are what we repeatedly do; excellence then is not an act but a habit.” – Aristotle

Plainly, self-control and self-mastery demand persistent practice. The following principles will aid in maintaining mental control.

1. Expect to achieve self-mastery.
Make the decision to master control. In fact, you must want to achieve personal excellence. Because success requires it!

2. Set the highest standards; model the elite.
Model the masters. Become obsessive about peak performance. Obviously, if you want to increase discipline, then set high standards and act on them.

3. Program a strong self-belief and success mindset.
To succeed, you must believe you can. For this reason, protect your state of mind like a precious jewel. Make your self-talk positive and growth oriented.

4. Focus on what brings the most positive results.
Use the 80/20 Rule – Pareto Principle. Assuming 80% of effects come from 20% of causes in any situation, then focus on the 20% causes you can influence.

5. Adapt and never give up.
Because you will win and you will fail. Change is constant. Therefore, your ability to adapt drives progression. Of course, never give up on self-discipline and personal excellence.