Self-discipline is your conscious control over your actions and behavior to achieve a specific goal.
Often, it needs making yourself do things you know you should do, even when you don’t want to.
Psychology defines self-discipline as conscious control that is oriented towards successful outcomes by overcoming obstacles or impediments (Zimmerman & Kitsantas, 2014).
Self-discipline requires willpower—a limited-resource ability to resist short-term temptations to meet long-term goals.
12 Behaviors That Show A Lack of Self-Discipline
These 12 behaviors indicate that you may lack self-discipline:
Procrastination, the habit of delaying or postponing tasks, clearly indicates a lack of self-discipline. It comes from a tendency to avoid discomfort or a fear of failure.
Procrastinators typically dive into the trap of being busy with unnecessary or pointless tasks, failing to meet deadlines and fulfill responsibilities.
Habitual procrastination can lead to a failure to control impulsive urges, a neglect of long-term goals, and a general lack of willpower.
There are two types of procrastinators:
- Passive procrastinators are procrastinators in the traditional sense, paralyzed by their indecision to act and fail to complete tasks on time.
- Active procrastinators are the “positive” types of procrastinators, who prefer to work under pressure and deliberately decide to procrastinate. Positive procrastinators have higher self-efficacy, are aware of the overall time needed, and show remarkable control over their time usage.
2. Being Always Late.
Being always late is a telling sign of self-indiscipline.
Many doctors and lawyers in private practice are perpetually late. It starts as poor time management, but often turns into a callousness—that others will wait because they have no other option.
An always-late person is sometimes described as a Tidsoptomist, a Swedish term meaning “time optimist.” They are constantly late because they think they have more time than they really do.
Being chronically late suggests that the person:
- disrespects other people’s time priorities,
- inappropriately asserts their self-importance, and
- will not acknowledge or adapt to the needs and expectations of others.
This inability to organize and prioritize time effectively can also result in shoddy or incomplete work. Find out how to stop being always late.
3. Impulsive Decision-Making.
Acting on your immediate desires or feelings is a sign of poor self-control.
Many of us make snap judgments, speak out of turn, and take calls without considering both sides of a choice. Then we end up with bad regrets about poor, avoidable outcomes.
Impulsive people want instant gratification, so their 3-second decisions and actions are more satisfying than waiting for long-term goals.
Quick decisions can be life-savers and even start you on your success path, but constantly acting without restraint or second thoughts is never good enough to get to the finishing line.
Learning how to plan and take risks after considering potential obstacles is crucial for any big success, as well as managing your life and relationships.
This self-control problem can be solved right in childhood (see the science-backed ways to build your child’s willpower).
4. Neglecting Personal Health.
The four most common ways we neglect our health are:
- not eating healthy,
- not exercising regularly,
- not getting enough sleep, and
- not listening to medical advice.
There is always something more important than sleeping early or going for a workout. Most often, this “more important thing” is a reluctance to step out of our comfort zone.
Over the years, this preference for immediate comfort or convenience can make life less enjoyable, both physically and mentally.
Neglecting your body’s basic needs reflects a deeper inability — that you do not love yourself enough.
Not loving yourself enough is willful ignorance to accept that once this only “house” that you live in goes to ruins, it may not be repairable anymore.
“Willful ignorance occurs when someone intentionally avoids information about the negative consequences of their actions. A new meta-analysis found that 40% of people will choose to remain ignorant of how their decisions affect others.”— Kevin Dickinson, Big Think
Personal health is strictly non-negotiable. Make it your top priority today, working hard and staying focused, and you’ll thank yourself for it in the sunset years of your life.
A quick solution is to remind yourself three to six times a day that this is the only body you will ever have.
5. Lack of Clarity and Purpose.
When you lack clarity, you keep doubting yourself, changing your mind, and relying on others to decide for you. You feel anxious and overwhelmed making even small decisions.
When you lack a sense of purpose, you find yourself drifting in “a thousand directions,” struggling to achieve anything meaningful, feeling unfulfilled, and lacking motivation to pursue long-term goals.
Lacking them can make it challenging to take action or stay focused. They also make it difficult to figure out how to use your time and resources, or what to do next.
Clarity and purpose in life help you understand what you should do, why you should do it, and how to stay focused on it. Without them, you can’t afford the self-discipline to succeed.
6. Difficulty Delegating or Asking for Help.
Some people insist on doing everything themselves, afraid to ask for help or use the power of delegation.
Some reasons why people hesitate to delegate :
- Lack of self-awareness: An inability to delegate may be driven by a lack of self-awareness — the person may not even be aware of what they can’t do, can’t do well enough, or have been doing it wrong all their life. They don’t have the skills to recognize their limitations.
- Waste of time: Some of them say it would take too much time to explain the task to another person, which is pointless since they could do it in the same amount of time.
- Doubt in the delegated person’s abilities: They feel their team members are not skilled or motivated enough to handle the complexity of the task. Or, they won’t follow the standard operating procedure (SOP) and produce incorrect or shoddy results.
- Fear of losing control: Some people are reluctant to delegate because of fear of losing power and self-importance. They fear that if they give up the task, the person doing it will get all the credit, making them useless and devalued.
- Fear of taking the blame for another’s mistakes: Some feel that if they delegate the task, they will have to take the blame if mistakes happen. To avoid uncertainty and anxiety, they prefer to do it themselves or micromanage the task process to “perfect” the final result.
This behavior can also be due to narcissistic tendencies or a fear of appearing weak. Such people are trapped in the mental frame of,
“No one else can do it better than me. And if I teach them to do it better than me, then what will I be left to do?”
Delegation can save time and allow you to focus on high-impact tasks that would allow personal and professional growth.
My advice: Don’t do a task yourself that you can afford someone else to do for you.
7. An Attitude of Perfectionism.
Perfectionism can result in procrastination and indecisiveness.
Perfectionists set unusually high standards and believe no one else can meet those. They think there is one “right” way to achieve a result, which others don’t know.
They also tend to be self-critical and strive to exceed expectations, making them distrust others to bring the same dedication to the task.
To overcome these challenges, perfectionists can try the following strategies:
- Start small: Begin by delegating small, administrative tasks that require a straightforward process and can be easily taught.
- Share expectations and criteria: Communicate expectations and criteria for success in clear terms, while delegating authority over how the task is accomplished.
- Get comfortable with feedback: Embrace the idea that feedback is essential for growth and improvement, and be open to receiving constructive criticism on delegated tasks.
- Document tasks and reflect on energy levels: Keep a record of tasks and note which tasks give energy and which drain it. This can help identify tasks that would be beneficial to delegate.
Overcoming perfectionist tendencies can lead to embracing of failures and weaknesses, providing growth opportunities.
8. Inability To Set or Stick To Goals.
An inability to set or stick to goals is like navigating without a map; you lack direction and reason.
The absence of goals also hinders your ability to track progress and feel accomplished, reducing motivation and persistence in facing challenges.
This can lead to a scattered, unfocused, and uncoordinated task approach.
Sticking to goals is equally important. If you frequently abandon your goals, it reflects a lack of persistence and commitment, essential components of self-discipline.
This can create a cycle of unfulfilled intentions and missed opportunities, impacting your personal and professional growth, long-term success, and life-satisfaction.
9. Difficulty Maintaining Routines.
Consistency in routines is a key aspect of self-discipline.
A disorganized approach also makes it difficult to prioritize and allocate your time and resources.
Struggling to maintain routines suggests a challenge in forming habits that support goal achievement and personal growth.
10. Trouble Setting and Maintaining Boundaries.
Boundaries are crucial for managing time, energy, and personal values. Difficulty in setting and maintaining them can lead to overcommitment and burnout, indicating poor self-discipline.
11. Overindulgence in Comforts and Distractions.
Engaging excessively in activities that provide immediate pleasure or escape (like binge-watching, excessive gaming, or overeating) often masks an inability to face challenges and stay committed to goals.
12. Neglecting Self-Care and Self-love.
Similar to neglecting personal health, ignoring self-care indicates a lack of self-regulation. It shows an inability to prioritize one’s own needs, which is essential for a disciplined life.
A strong sense of self-discipline is non-negotiable for success and respect from others.
- Outside, a self-disciplined person may seem unhappy, pushing themselves to follow a hard plan or a boring routine.
- Inside, however, they have an organized, efficient, and peaceful life.
√ Also Read: 10 Self-Control Secrets For Maximum Willpower.
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