Discipline and Pleasure: Where to Start Self-Development and How Not to Quit

Why does a hobby help to work better, is it worth it to fear mistakes, and where, in the end, find time for all these “self-developing practices”. We tell you how to start the path to a better version of yourself and not burn out along the way.

If you think self-development is not for you

Self-development is the process of working on oneself to achieve success in various areas of life. It helps to stand out and increase awareness.

It’s never too late to start. If you think that you have long reached the ceiling of opportunities, and the success of others is unattainable, you may have become a victim of a given attitude. 

This term is used by psychologist Carol Duque. She believes that there are two attitudes that a person lives with: attitudes toward growth and attitudes toward reality. It seems to people from the second category that they were given a set of skills from birth, the quantity and quality of which they cannot change. They are opposed to those for whom the “cards” received during the distribution are only a starting point.

People with a given attitude to the question of how to distinguish an intelligent person are more likely to answer in the past tense. For example: “an intelligent person is one who has read many books.” If, in response, they say that an intelligent person is one who is always developing and learning new things, this is a growth plan.

Both installations are brought up in childhood. If parents praise the child only for the result, for example, correctly stacked cubes, high results of the exam, this hangs on him a label of givenness. Unlike the child in whom diligence and determination were encouraged. 

The desire to learn new things depends on the installation.

Our biology also speaks about the benefits of self-development. Throughout life, the human brain is able to create neural connections. A neuron is a cell that processes and transmits information through electrical and chemical signals. With the help of them, we better process information from the outside world. But new neural connections are created while learning new skills. And the old ones are supported by repeating the learned.

Step 1: Take responsibility for your life

It’s very easy to blame someone else for all the problems: friends, the weather, the evil boss, the bed is too warm. Such thinking is called victim syndrome. The condition is in many respects convenient: the victim person relieves himself of responsibility, which means that he does not feel guilty for failures. The fear of defeat is so great that he prefers to just do nothing to avoid it. And for all unfulfilled dreams and goals, someone else can be blamed.

But in fact, everything happens the other way around. By agreeing to take responsibility for your life, you do not become guilty of what you did or did not do. You have no one to report to. You realize that you yourself decided to lie on the couch, instead of going to work. Or they themselves risked launching a project that did not pay off.

Do not underestimate the benefits of problems. The resolution of even a small snag develops perseverance in us, and also helps to produce dopamine – the “hormone of motivation”. 

Once you solve a difficult problem, you already want to move on, punching walls more difficult. Every effort and victory that follows him motivates to develop. Failures are part of the way. It is better to learn not to shy away from them (this is still impossible), but to accept and correct.

Step 2: Become Disciplined

German business consultant Bodo Schäfer wrote that 72 hours are separated from the idea to the realization of the goal. At this time, the brain is sent a signal that the chosen goal is important to you, and it concentrates all its resources on its achievement. If you don’t even start making notes, after 72 hours the motivation will be exhausted. 

Or an example: you watch a movie where the hero through blood, sweat and tears goes to the goal and reaches it. And now you are already fired up by his determination and are sure that at seven in the morning you will get up for a run. But in the morning the alarm rings, and emotions are already working in the opposite direction.

To achieve results, motivation for 72 hours and for one evening should flow into discipline. In the case of a run, you will need to bring yourself reasonable arguments that will explain why you should get up so early for a run in cold and rain. Find a photo of your ideal body and put on the screen saver of your smartphone, think about a champion marathon runner who inspired you with his success. Or hang over the bed a list of benefits that a jog will give you.

In addition, a checklist can be a useful discipline maintenance technique. Daily shading of circles gives dopamine recharge. You can download ready-made checklists or come up with your own.

If you do not know what arguments can lift you from the couch to the path to self-development, focus on your environment – physical and psychological. Note what is bothering you and what can be fixed. Ask yourself three questions:

  • what bothers me
  • what can i fix
  • do i really want to fix this?

Answers to them will help you better understand what areas of life you want to improve, what new hobbies to find, what habits to get rid of. Even better if you answer questions in writing.

Step 3: Fall in love with books

Reading is often on the list of abandoned classes after leaving school and university. Adult life creates the illusion that evenings with a book in their hands remained in carefree times that were long gone.

Although today publishers offer an uncountable number of works on almost any subject. Books help you learn a new skill, find a good habit, get inspired for change. And reading increases vocabulary, which makes a person more charismatic.

Some cite the fact that books are too expensive and heavy to carry with them. Others say there is no time left for reading.

Arithmetic is ready to argue with the second argument. On average, books print 300 pages. If you divide them into 30 days, you get 10. Only 10 pages per day, which will take a maximum of 15 minutes of time, and once a month one book is already published. These are 12 books a year and 120 for 10 years. And with the help of speed reading, the work can be mastered in a week.  

Electronic devices or audio format will not carry heavy books. Book download services often offer discounts and trial periods. Paper copies are sold in online stores, which is often cheaper than going to a used bookstore. Bookcrossing communities, flea markets, and good old city libraries will also help you save money.

Step 4: Find daily rituals


Sport does not only temper the body. It helps the brain fight stress and fatigue, promotes the production of serotonin (the “hormone of happiness”) and increases the flow of oxygen to the head. Regular training, especially with cardio-loading, triggers the creation of new neurons in the hippocampus – the area of ​​the brain that is responsible for memory and learning.

It is not necessary to become an Olympic champion. It is enough to choose the kind of sport that you like and set up a feasible load. If you do not want to go to the gym, fifteen minutes of morning exercise or yoga at home will be enough. The important thing is not how many squats you can perform in one approach, but the regularity of training.

Writing practice

Writer and journalist Julia Cameron proposed her own system for developing creative potential, which she called “written practice.” According to her, daily recording increases the level of self-awareness, helps in solving problems and making decisions, and sometimes acts as a psychological introspection.

Cameron advises performing the technique in the morning, as this is the same ritual of cleansing as washing and going to the toilet. But he does not insist. You can write everything that bothers and the way you like it. To live anxiety, resentment, crisis. Confess your weaknesses and tell secrets that there is no one to entrust. Paper can endure everything, and the meaning of technology is in the process of unloading the brain.


From 1958 to 1978, physiologist Robert Ruth-Bernstein and his colleagues four times interviewed scientists about their work habits and hobbies in their free time. Then they studied the contribution of these scientists to science by their citation. The results identified a clear link between success and having a hobby. And above all, the result was shown by those scientists who were fond of music, as well as with hobbies that require visual thinking, and with the ability to learn from mistakes.

A hobby helps to defocus the brain, to give it a break between solving important problems. Especially if it is based on the work of fine motor skills: knitting, puzzles, sculpting, embroidery. In a word, those hobbies that do not require full brain concentration and can be immersed in a certain meditative state.

Step 5: Learn to relax

The ability to relax is a real skill, which is becoming more and more difficult to master in a world that repeats the mantra “sleep for wimps.” Without a balance between productivity and relaxation, there is every chance to reach burnout. And it will cost health and time more than a 15-minute rest between tasks.

To maintain this balance, you can follow the focus-defocus method.

When we focus on study, work, education, we focus. Consciousness becomes like a lantern that highlights certain areas of life. 

In order not to overwork, consciousness sometimes needs to switch to the spotlight mode, which highlights everything at once – a defocus. We feel this state when we practice our favorite hobby or sport, meet friends, meditate or walk. It is useful to even just dream in between cases. Take a nap if the daily routine allows. Or lie down for fifteen minutes on the couch, but only if the smartphone and laptop remain on the sidelines. 

Defocusing helps you find inspiration even in your mistakes. You seem to look at them from the side, noting that you can fix, what to learn.

If you find it difficult to take yourself on vacation, try including it on your schedule. You can write it in a diary: “a walk in the park, empty chatter with friends on a bench.” Add also time when you will not touch gadgets. At least half an hour a day. Our brain does not rest watching social networks, but only bury itself even harder in an endless stream of information.

The ability to distract and enjoy life is also self-development.

You can also read:

How To Manage A Difficult Project

Podcast Creation: 3 Powerful Easy Steps to Build a Winning Podcast

Ultra Learning: 5 Steps To Master Any Skill

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