Chapter 6


 “ Not everything that is faced can be changed,

but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”


James Baldwin, Author









Learning Objectives

•      Define self-discipline and cite its benefits.


•      Explain how to control impulses.


•      Describe the process of replacing bad habits with good ones.


•      Define critical thinking and list its seven standards.


•      List the steps in the decision making process

Taking Control of Your Life

•      Self-Discipline  The process of teaching yourself to do what is necessary to reach your goals, without becoming sidetracked by bad habits.


•      Self-discipline helps you to do this by strengthening your ability to:

•    control your destiny

•    persist in the face of setbacks

•    weigh the long-term consequences of your actions

•    make positive changes

•    break bad habits

•    think critically

•    make effective decisions

Elements of Self-Discipline

•      Discipline comes from the Latin verb meaning “to teach.”


•      Persistence  The ability to go on despite opposition, setbacks, and occasional doubts.


•      Self-Determination  Determining the path your life travels.


•      Responsibility  The ability to make independent proactive decisions and to accept the consequences of them.

Success Secret

•      All successful people rely on self-discipline.


Ingredients of Self-Discipline







Controlling Impulses

•      Impulse  A sudden wish or feeling that can lead to unplanned and unwise actions.


•      Acting on impulse occasionally is relatively harmless. When impulses guide your behavior, you do things that are not good for you or others such as:


•     wasting time, disregarding obligations and letting people down

•     overreacting and making comments you wish you could take back later

•     driving dangerously

•     compulsive spending

•     overeating or abusing alcohol and other drugs

•     jumping into unhealthy relationships

Controlling Impulses continued…

•             Thinking Long-Term  It’s easy to trick yourself into believing small, impulsive actions, don’t have long-term consequences.


•              Delaying gratification doesn’t mean punishing yourself.     It means choosing a later, bigger reward.


•             When you feel an impulse coming on:

•            Stop.   Realize you are about to act impulsively. 

•            Think. What will I gain in the short term? What will I lose in the long term?

•            Decide. Given the consequences, is it worth it?


Personal Journal 6.2 Thinking Long-Term

Embracing Change

•      Do You Resist Change?

     Activity 30: Making Positive Changes.


•      What’s Holding You Back?

     Are you making excuses? Remind yourself how much better you will feel once you take action.


•      Hidden Resistance    

Activity 31:  Overcoming Resistance to Change


Success Secret

•      Success requires the courage to change.


Conquering Bad Habits

•      Habit  A behavior that has become automatic through repetition.


•      How do you know when bad habits are causing your problems? Ask yourself whether any of your habits:


•     make you unhappy or feel bad about yourself?

•     drain your energy or stand in the way of your goals?

•     get you into trouble at work or school?

•     hurt or seriously inconvenience others?


Success Secret

•      When your habits have negative consequences, it’s time to change them.

Conquering Bad Habits 2

Lasting change doesn’t happen overnight.

Changing habits involves three major steps:


Step 1  Wanting to change the habit.

     Before you can break a bad habit, you must want to change from within.


Step 2  Understanding the habit.

•     When do I give in to my bad habit?

•     Where do I give in to my bad habit?

•     Who is present when I give in to my bad habit?

•     How do I feel just before I give in to my bad habit?

•     How do I feel just after I give in to my bad habit?


Activity 32: Getting to Know Your Bad Habits

Conquering Bad Habits 3

•      Step 3  Replacing the Habit                          Journal 6.3 Habit Change Chart


•      Relapse is Normal  

     Sometimes you try ten times, and not until the tenth attempt do you succeed. With each attempt, your self-discipline got stronger until you beat the bad habit.


•      For Habit Change, Use Positive Self-Talk 


•     I arrive on time for all my classes.

•     I am proud of myself for arriving on time.


Discipline Your Thinking
Learning To Think Critically

•      Critical Thinking  Active, self-reflective thinking.


•      Benefits of critical thinking are that it helps you solve problems and overcome obstacles.


•      Critical thinking doesn’t come easily.

    Activity 33:  How Critical Is Your Thinking?


Success Secret

•      Think and communicate with a clear purpose.

Standards of Critical Thinking

•      The key to thinking critically is to hold yourself to high standards.


•      The Foundation for Critical Thinking specifies seven standards for excellent critical thinking.


•      Whenever you think, speak, or write, you should try to follow each standard.


Success Secret

•      Look at critical thinking as a learning process.

Critical Thinking continued…

•             Clarity  It is the foundation of critical thinking.

        A thought or statement is clear if it is plainly worded and easily understood.


•            Unclear: Students need to indicate which classes on the sign-up sheet they would like to take due to the fact that the December 13 deadline is approaching.


•            Why It’s Unclear: The sentence is too wordy and long-winded. It makes a simple statement into a complicated mess.


•            Clear: Students need to sign up for classes before     December 13.


•             Precision  Exactness.

•            Imprecise: Too much TV makes kids more violent.


•            Why It’s Imprecise: The statement does not specify what kinds of programs make children more violent.


•            Precise: Children who are exposed to gratuitous violence on TV are more inclined to become aggressive.


•             Accuracy  Factual Truth. Ask yourself:

•            Is this really true?

•            Is it possible to check whether this is true? (If not, the statement is probably not accurate.)

•            What is this based on?

•            How reliable is the source of this information?


4. Relevance  A fact or idea is relevant if it has a direct connection to the subject being discussed.  Ask yourself:

•     Is this connected to the issue?

•     Is this being introduced to change the subject, criticize others, or shift the blame?


5. Depth  A thought has depth if it digs below the surface to consider the substance of the issue.


•     Shallow: Building more prisons will solve our drug problem.

•     Why It’s Shallow: This is a superficial solution to a difficult problem.

•     Deep: Building more prisons will allow more drug dealers to be imprisoned, but it won’t address the causes of drug addiction.


6. Breadth  The degree to which a statement considers other arguments and points of view.


•     Narrow: I don’t know why people like Mike’s guitar playing—it’s terrible.


•     Why It’s Narrow: This statement assumes that there is only one correct point of view on Mike’s guitar playing.


•     Broad: Mike’s guitar playing appeals to metal fans, but it doesn’t appeal to me.


7. Logic  The process of drawing the correct conclusions from the facts and providing valid explanations from your conclusions.


•     Illogical: All of our students are above average.


•     Why It’s Illogical: It is statistically impossible for a majority of people to  be above average when compared to each other.


•     Logical: All of our students have special talent in a certain area.


Activity 34: Developing Your Critical Thinking


Success Secret

•      Remember that your point of view is only one of many.

Becoming a Better Decision Maker

•      Decision  A reasoned choice among several options or possible courses of action.


•      Good decisions matter because no positive change happens without making decisions.


•      Handling Mistakes  Everyone makes mistakes. Mistakes can be valuable tools for you to learn when you view them in a healthy light.


Success Secret

•      When you make a major decision, you are creating a new future for yourself.

Steps in the Decision-Making Process

•      Step 1 Define the Decision

     Framing Effect  Decision-making bias that results from the way a decision, question or problem is worded.


•      When you are faced with a decision, take care to frame the decision in different ways so that you don’t exclude any possible options.

•     Should I accept this new job?

•     Should I settle for this new job?

•     Should I reject this new job?

•     Should I continue my job search?

•     Should I remain unemployed?


•      Step 2 List All Possible Options

     Don’t be satisfied with one or two options; brainstorm until you have a wide range of possible courses of action from which to choose.


•      Step 3 Gather Information

     The more information you can gather, the easier it will be to generate options and then evaluate them.


•      Step 4 Assess the Consequences

     Look into the future and try to gauge the possible outcomes of each course of action.


     Personal Journal 6.4  Pros and Cons


•      Step 5 Choose One Option

     Once you’ve made your choice, remember you’ve done everything in your power to choose the right course.


•      Step 6 Act

     A decision only has value if you act on it. Don’t let fear of regret scare you away from making a decision.


•      Step 7 Evaluate Your Progress  Ask yourself:

     Did I overlook information that would be helpful in the future?

     What can I learn from the experience to help me make a better decision the next time around?


     Activity 35: Using the Decision-Making Process