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Author:NeuroGym Team

What is discipline, and how can you make it work for you?

Discipline is basically the “adult in the room” in our brains. If you have a lot of work to do but it’s really nice out, discipline is what helps you resist the urge to go outside and to get your work done instead.

Discipline takes a lot of practice to achieve, and if you have bad habits you’ve been reinforcing for years, it’s even harder.

Striking a Balance

Self-mastery is about achieving a balance between two types of discipline. Have you ever wondered why so many people are disciplined in one area but not others—disciplined with regards to their careers but not their personal lives, or vice versa?

If you ever watched the popular medical drama House, you know what we’re talking about! The main character, Dr. House, was a genius doctor who could diagnose anything, but he was also rude, unkempt, had outbursts of anger, and got in trouble constantly. Dr. House displayed high levels of external discipline, but not self-discipline—and he certainly hadn’t achieved self-mastery!

Self-mastery helps you develop the right mindset to stay fully in control of yourself, both at work and in your personal life, to move towards any goal you’ve set yourself, and to overcome the obstacles in your way.

External and Self-Discipline: What’s the Difference?

Self-discipline is the first step to self-mastery. It involves being in control of yourself in your personal life, and ensuring that you stay on top of your physical and mental health in order to develop more fully on a personal level. People display self-discipline by:

  • Eating healthy food in healthy portions
  • Sticking to a bedtime
  • Maintaining good personal hygiene
  • Avoiding burnout
  • Drinking lots of water
  • Keeping a clean house
  • And any other kind of self-care that requires willpower

By contrast, people who are externally disciplined have such a strong determination to succeed, they focus on their goals over all else. Traits of external discipline include:

  • Setting and meeting reasonable goals at work
  • Getting to work on time every day
  • Advocating for themselves to their bosses
  • Voluntarily taking overtime
  • Being productive

Achieving both external and self-discipline is known as self-mastery. But why is achieving self-mastery more beneficial to your career goals than external discipline alone?

The Benefits of Self-Mastery

It Lets You Fully Harness Your Inner Power

Self-mastery is about choosing what you’re going to do next on your way to your goal, instead of letting your habits and impulses take the wheel. Your brain has incredible power, and it’s there for you to use if you can take control of it.

It Makes You Stronger (Mentally!)

Inner strength is one of the most sought-after qualities in our society. People who are mentally strong can get back on the horse after falling off, do things they don’t want to do but need to, and confront harsh truths when they need to instead of avoiding them.

Of course, everyone procrastinates occasionally, but having the inner strength to resist procrastination can help you avoid time crunches and deadline panic, as well as freeing up more time to do things you enjoy!

It Emphasizes Self-Care

Our “hustle culture” lauds people who sacrifice their personal lives for career success, but you can’t keep it up forever. That isn’t self-mastery!

You can only work so much before you need to take time to relax, recharge, and have a little fun. While everyone has a deadline to meet every now and then, a person who never takes a break will eventually crash—and hard—and need to spend more time in recovery.

Three Innercises for Self-Mastery

You can achieve self-mastery in your own life using Innercise™. These brain exercises are short and simple enough that anyone can do them, anytime, anywhere! Developed by leading brain and behavior expert John Assaraf and backed up by the latest in neuroscience, Innercise™ is a science-backed way to turn your mindset and habits around.

Here, we’ve included three amazing Innercises™ that can help you take control of your brainpower. It’s really hard to change old habits and overcome a negative mindset, but with Innercise™, you can make your brainpower work for you!

These Innercises™ are paraphrased from John Assaraf’s bestselling book, Innercise: The New Science to Unlock Your Brain’s Inner Power.  If you want to read more before you buy, head to the link in the title for a sneak preview!

Want even MORE advice on how taking control of your brainpower can skyrocket YOUR career success? Book your spot at this weekend’s live Brain-A-Thon training event NOW!

Innercise #1: New Habit Formation

Self-mastery requires you to form healthy habits, but it’s hard to pit a new habit you want to make permanent against a bad habit you’ve had for years. In his book, John Assaraf recommends working through the new habit formation Innercise™ for at least seven days to entrench a new habit in your psyche.

When you set your intention to change your habit, answer these questions:

  1. What new habit do you want to take up? Pick something small you can start doing over the next day or two.
    1. For example, you may decide you’re going to bring a packed lunch to work instead of hitting the drive-through!
  2. Can you “stack” this new habit to an existing positive habit to make it easier to follow?
    1. In our lunch example, maybe you already cook yourself dinner in the evening. You can stack packing a lunch to this by making an extra serving of your dinner to heat up the next day!
  3. You’re going to start this habit today or tomorrow. What’s one way to make it easier on yourself?
    1. With our lunch example, a great tactic would be to pick a dinner you like that is appealing to reheat, or that doesn’t need to be heated at all. Unappetizing reheated food is the surest way to find yourself slipping out of your new, good habit!

At the end of the day, write down one thing you did to achieve your new habit. Did you decline your coworker’s offer to pick something up for you when they grabbed fast food for lunch? Write it down!

After doing this for seven days, look back on the sentences you wrote and feel that sense of achievement! Now, all you have to do is keep going.

If you want to go deeper, think of obstacles you might encounter or excuses you might make that would set you back. How will you overcome them when they arise?

Innercise #2: Kill the ANTs!

People with a positive, but realistic outlook on life do better than others in their careers. This is the right mindset for self-mastery as it also helps improve your overall mental health. If you’re a habitual pessimist, try this short Innercise™ to turn your mindset around!

A lot of negativity in our mindset is not directed at the outside world, but at ourselves. When negative self-talk becomes a habit, John Assaraf calls them ANTs: Automatic Negative Thoughts. In order to achieve the right mindset for self-mastery, you need to kill the ANTs—here’s how!

  1. When you experience an ANT, jot it down on a notepad right away.
  2. Look at the negative thought laid out in front of you, and think critically about it. Is it actually true? What evidence is there to support it?
  3. If the thought is false, jot down some evidence showing why it’s wrong.
  4. Write down some positive affirmations that negate the ANT.

Anytime you have an ANT, refer back to this list to help you replace your ANTs with APTs: Automatic Positive Thoughts!

Innercise #3: The STT Process 

People with self-mastery can set goals and see them through much easier than people without. One of the most useful Innercises™ in John Assaraf’s book is the STT Process: A neuroscience-backed way to plan how you’re going to achieve the career success you’ve been dreaming of!

In order to reach your goal according to the STT template, you need a strategy, a tactic, and a timeline.

  • A strategy is how you plan to achieve your goal: “To get this writing project in on time, I am going to write 3,000 words a day until the deadline.”
  • A tactic is one way you’re going to put that plan into place. Be as specific as possible: “I’m going to go to the library in the morning and not leave until I write 3,000 words.”
  • Your timeline also needs to be as specific as possible: “I will go to the library tomorrow at 9 a.m.”

If you stumble while putting your plan into action, don’t get down on yourself. Instead, ask yourself, what’s one thing I can do to get back on track? “I didn’t write 3,000 words before I had to leave to get lunch; I’ll come back and finish afterwards.”

Final Thoughts

Everyone has goals, and no one will be able to achieve all of their goals in their lifetime. But by following these three Innercises™, you’ll be putting yourself on the road to self-mastery and success. Once you get in the habit of Innercising™ every day, it’ll become even easier for you, as your neuro-muscles grow stronger and stronger every time you work them out!

Looking to learn more about how changing your brain can help you change the course of your life? Sign up for this week’s live virtual Brain-A-Thon! Don’t wait! Book your spot now!

About The Author

NeuroGym Team

NeuroGym Team: NeuroGym’s Team of experts consists of neuroscientists, researchers, and staff who are enthusiasts in their fields. The team is committed to making a difference in the lives of others by sharing the latest scientific findings to help you change your life by understanding and using the mindset, skill set and action set to change your brain.

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