As an emerging leader, I’ve no doubt had my share of successes and failures. Whether in the area of health, relationships, business success, finances – I’ve failed, and I’ve succeeded.
And when it came down to what had consistently made the difference? It’s self discipline. Every time things didn’t go as expected, it was likely that I “let go of the gas pedal” on my self discipline.
- When I went back to eating sugar and/or not excising I gained weight.
- When I didn’t follow up with prospects and clients according to my plan, business slowed
- When I stayed on my computer till 3am for weeks in a row, I saw my relationships take a nose dive.
We all have self discipline.
You will agree with me that there are things we know we should be doing and we do them, and then there are those things we we know we should be doing but chose not to do them. Conversely, there are things we no we shouldn’t be doing , yet we go ahead and do them anyway. And there are the ones we know we shouldn’t be doing and do not do them .
If this is the case, and it is, then the issue is not the absence of self discipline; it the weakness of self discipline.
How to Strengthen Your Self-Discipline
While the following ideas may seem simple, I cannot begin to lay emphasis on their effectiveness.
Everyone lacks the necessary discipline at times. We can’t always get ourselves to do the things that we know we should be doing. Then we feel bad about it. Then we beat ourselves up and feel even worse. Don’t let this happen to you! Usually, you won’t feel so bad if you can generally get a handle on your discipline.
Try these ideas to bring your self-discipline back under control:
- Take it easy on yourself. Feeling bad makes most people less capable, not more capable. Everyone slips at times; just recognize that this is one of those times for you. Move on and move forward. Staying with that emotion accomplishes nothing.
- Focus on your motivation for the goal. Why is this goal relevant to you? Imagine how it will feel to accomplish it. Motivation is just about the only way to get yourself to do something you don’t want to do. Ideally, you could find a way to make the activity easy and enjoyable.
- Making it as easy as possible. The smaller the barrier, the more likely you are to perform the activity. For example, if you want to exercise daily, make it super easy at first. Start with just 5 minutes. It’s easy to get started with 5 minutes. Next week you can add 5 more. Also, find a form of exercise that’s convenient for you.
- You’re likely to find that if you can just get over the barrier of getting started, then you’ll go ahead and complete the whole task. So make getting started easy. Set a goal to make just one phone call or clean the garage for only 15 minutes.
- Try to make it enjoyable. Exercise might be far more enjoyable if you join a basketball league instead of run on a treadmill by yourself. Working on the computer might be a lot easier out on your deck with the birds and the trees in the background. Think about a way to perform the activity as enjoyably as possible.
- Stay in the present. We’re great at making ourselves feel bad about things that either happened in the past or haven’t happened yet. Avoid thinking about the unpleasant activity until it’s time. If you sit around and spend an hour dreading something, it makes it a lot harder to actually do it.
- Staying in the present is part of the reason why Buddhist monks are so calm; they spend all day trying to only focus on their current activity. Then they move on to the next thing and repeat. Their goal is to do everything with the same attention and calmness. Using this technique can go a long way toward helping you with discipline.
- Stick with it. You might exercise for a week straight and then fall off the wagon. Start all over again with the first step. You’re not a robot; you can’t realistically expect to be perfect 100% of the time. Set a goal for continuous improvement rather than perfection.
- Seek God’s help. This one has been my greatest weapon. It took me a while to realize that God need to be a part of all aspects of my life, and that in fact, my work as a consultant. coach, blogger and publisher was my ministry. But When I came to that realization, tings changed for me. I no longer trusted myself. All I had to do was believe that God could help me, and trust Him for that help.
A certain amount of discipline is required to do anything worthwhile unless you’re lucky enough to genuinely enjoy all the steps involved. When you get stuck, take it easy on yourself and go back to your source of motivation. Then make the activity as easy and enjoyable as possible. Rinse and repeat.
Regardless of the nature of your goal, the more control you have over yourself, the more successful you can become.