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Written by Master Dao on Monday, April 26, 2021

How to Become More Disciplined

Do you feel you need more discipline in your life? Not feeling like you are disciplined likely means you are feeling stress and anxiety. It is a common concern and perhaps this article will help you through it.

What Does Being More Disciplined Mean?

We need to first establish what being more disciplined means. To do that, let’s have a look at some common examples of how we use this word in the context of our day-to-day lives.

   > I need to be more disciplined because I am not able to get things done on time.

   > I need to be more disciplined because I do not feel like I'm getting enough done.

   > I need to be more disciplined because I keep forgetting to do some things.

   > I need to be more disciplined because I get distracted by things that are not as important.

   > I need to be more disciplined because I get discouraged when thinking about doing it.

What is in common in the examples above is an unexpected or uncontrollable negative result. In other words, you need to be more organized so that these things don't happen.

There is a discipline of study and practice that deals with the issues of these examples - it’s called Project Management. This discipline arose from times of war and perhaps when you think of examples of highly disciplined people you may think of soldiers. They are trained not to get distracted, to follow orders, and to get things done as directed. At the top of the army chain are highly trained project managers that manage the successful outcomes of their project objectives.

Many people have never studied project management and you’d be surprised to learn that it can be applied to your day-to-day life and teach you how to be organized and get things done. It is so important that perhaps it needs to be part of every education system!

Thus, being more disciplined means being more organized and being able to complete your tasks. Let’s briefly explore Project Management to see how it can be of benefit to us.

The Fundamentals of Project Management

The subject of Project Management is quite broad in scope but at the heart of it is a universal ‘Truth Formula’:

Scope = function of (Cost, Time, and Quality)

From a project context, it means that how much you can do is dependent on how much money you spend, how much time is available, and what the quality objectives are.

Cost Example: If you have more money then you can put more resources into the project and do more things, do them faster, and do them better.

Time Example: If you have more time then you can handle bigger projects, reduce costs, and complete projects with higher quality objectives.

Quality Example: If you increase the quality objectives then you’ll need to reduce the effort, add more time, or reduce the cost.

The best project managers will make their day-to-day project decisions and tradeoffs by using this formula.

Applying Project Management to Our Day-to-Day Lives

The Project Management Truth formula above isn’t very useful for our day-to-day lives, so let’s rephrase this formula for our own purposes and call it a Self-Discipline Truth Formula:

Self-Discipline = function of (Qi, Time, and Willpower)

Here the word ‘Self-Discipline’ is your capability to get things done. And what we can accomplish is dependent on how much energy (Qi) we have, how much time is available, and our ability to focus, persevere and strive.

People who know me personally such as my family, friends, and students will often wonder “How does Master Dao get so much done all the time?” Well here it is - Self-Discipline Truth Formula - the secret behind it all!

The Components of Self-Discipline

The components of the Self-Discipline Truth Formula shows you how to improve your level of discipline in several ways:

Qi - Specifically, this is about maintaining your Net Qi. Net Qi is beyond the scope of this article and we will post a link to describe it more fully another time. For now, think about Net Qi as the amount of energy released in your body minus the energy consumed. Thus if you can maintain a positive Net Qi throughout the day then you’ll have the energy you need to accomplish your tasks.

Time - Think about ‘time’ in terms of your ability to track your tasks and whether the things you want to do are realistically achievable time-wise. In other words, the better you can track what you want and need to do, the more you can do! That’s because you won’t lose sight of what needs to be done - if it’s in your face all the time and you learn to check it regularly throughout the day, then it will become very easy for you to decide how you want to spend your time and whether your current tasks are still achievable.

Also think about whether each task is still relevant. As your needs and desires change, some tasks that used to seem very important may no longer need to be done.

I use a tasklist program that is synced to my computer and phone. I manage my priorities with the software and mark them done or add notes to help me manage them better. As new tasks arise, I can quickly check my task list to determine the priority of the new task and whether the other tasks can still be done in time. I am always reminded of what I need to do whether I’m at home, at school, or out on an errand.

Willpower - This is your ability to overcome your emotions and carry through with a particular task as intended. The Shaolin Virtues of Perseverance, Strive, and Focus will help you to develop willpower. In the future I will write about these virtues in depth and then link it back here. For now, think about these virtues as follows:

Shaolin Virtue of Perseverance - the willpower to continue even though it may be challenging

Shaolin Virtue of Strive - the willpower to improve even though it may be discouraging

Shaolin Virtue of Focus - the willpower to stay focused even though there are distractions

Learn to Be Realistic and Humble

Take the time and reflect upon your levels of energy, willpower, and habits.

If you are not eating, sleeping, or managing your energy levels well, how can you get through all the things you want to?

If you feel that sometimes you are lazy, complacent, or get distracted with entertainment, how will you have time to get things done?

You'll need to determine if your lifestyle suits what you want to do. If not, it's time to admit it and think about how to make those changes and lower your expectations of what you can do for now. Build it up slowly and realistically, and communicate it to the people important around you.

Still Feeling Undisciplined?

If you feel you are able to get things done but still have the feelings that you need to be more disciplined, then it's time to look a little deeper for some answers.

Take the time to meditate and find a quiet place to contemplate. Then ask yourself "Where does the idea that you are undisciplined or need more discipline come from?

It's not easy to find all the answers and it will take time. When you uncover the source(s), it's time to accept the events in your life that lead you to this point so that you can move on, feel happy about where you are at now, and strive for more in the future.


Ultimately you get to decide what level of self-discipline is appropriate for you, and this will likely change as you journey through the events of your life.

In the meantime, you can decide to strive and improve your level of self-discipline today. Consider to:

> Develop a healthier lifestyle. Watch your physique, manage what you eat and drink, and ensure you are well rested.

> Meditate daily to develop your willpower to focus. Reflect on how to develop the other facets of willpower.

> Write down everything you need to do on a piece of paper or with computer/phone software.

> Look at your tasks every day or even several times a day.

> Review the tasks and update their priorities and expectations according to your progress, relevance, energy, and health.

> Consider adjusting your task list as new events unfold throughout the day that require your attention.

After several weeks this will all become a habit and you’ll find it very rewarding. The question is, do you have the willpower to see it through?

Shàolín Chándào perspective: 'Disciplined' and 'undisciplined' are man-made ideas resulting from judgements from others or yourself. Let go of these ideas because they are not real. What is real are your feelings of happiness and peace, so strive for these instead.
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