Anything Worthwhile Takes Effort, and Self-Discipline When I speak of self-discipline, I don’t mean from a punishment perspective. That you punish yourself for not achieving a goal or accomplishing a task. We don’t need to foster a sense of self-loathing or hurting ourselves if we don’t meet up to unrealistic goals. I’m talking about a healthy discipline combined with realistic resolutions.
The consequences of choices show up eventually on their own. If you live a life consuming processed foods and surrounding yourself with chemicals it’s just a matter of time before you begin to experience signs of chemical exposure. If you never exercise or eat fruits and vegetables, your physique and energy levels will speak volumes to yourself about the status quo.
The real goal we all want to accomplish by setting resolutions is to improve the status quo, right? Those resolutions are different for everyone, but the element of self-discipline is true for all of us. Whether you are trying to quit smoking or read more books this year, resolutions require effort. Our own effort, our self-discipline.
Self-discipline is an art It’s not something that you perfect one year and then never revisit again in your life. It is adjusted, refined, appreciated over time for it’s full essence. Practicing at it’s full potential can have a huge impact on our lives, ideally for the better. Do you want your life to get better? Of course you do. Do you have the self-discipline to make it happen? That’s up to you. When you develop confidence in your Self-Discipline, you’ll be able to make any resolution stick because you have the guts, the stamina and the confidence to do what it takes to meet your goals regardless of how you feel tomorrow or the day after. Self-discipline doesn’t shift with your emotions, your bank account or your wardrobe. It’s your core essence, your full being and it should not be compromised. When it is, you risk missing your goals, your resolutions and track to a better you. Walk through these steps to find out how well you are practicing the art of Self-Discipline. Now, let’s go!
1. Live with a Sense of Transfer-Ability focus on what you have already accomplished. Think about the good things you have done and you’ll get a boost in your confidence about what you have already done. This can be professional and personal. It all matters because it’s all part of who you are. When you have the determination to achieve greatness in one area of your life, it can transfer to another when you put your mind to it. Don’t focus on your weaknesses (although it’s important to be aware of them, don’t dwell on them) but remember the great things you have done: personal, professional and community service. It all matters in the big picture.
2. Know the Enemy Study your Self and understand your weaknesses and your strengths so you can define goals that will move you ahead and prepare you for inevitable discouragement at some time. When you know your strong points and your vulnerabilities, you’ll be able to outline clear, realistic goals that will challenge you but not be unattainable. It’s important to clearly define what your goals are so you can set a plan in motion to keep moving in the right direction. If you want to lose weight, define how much you’d like, either in pounds or to reach a certain size. If you want to read more books, make a list of 10-20 books you want to be your priority for the year so you don’t become distracted or your goal becomes insignificant. If you want to understand your Self better, pick up a FREE copy of my e-book, the 7 Habits of Healthy People in the column to the right. It’s filled with insight and encouragement to discover the real YOU. You’ll find a better sense of who you are, what’s important to you and where you are headed.
3. Train Your Self This can be easier than you think, mostly because you can begin small. Small changes encourage big changes. They also give you the confidence to carry out the big changes. Train yourself with small habits, goals and discipline. Look at your weak spots. If you want to give up drinking coffee, don’t hang out around a Starbucks. If you drink several cups a day, cut back 1 cup a day for a week. I used to drink almost a pot of coffee a day. I haven’t done caffeine for over 15 years now and I don’t miss it a bit. But I do remember quitting, and it wasn’t easy the first few weeks. But once I was out of the woods, I never looked back because I replaced it with good habits. If you feel good about your take-out coffee, think about what it really is that makes you happy: the atmosphere? the Sandalwood scented cups? or really the caffeine? Can a cup of coffee be sexy? It’s easier to train yourself of new habits when you understand your Self better. When you understand your vulnerabilities, it will be easier to replace those with habits with ones that will help move you towards your Resolutions.
4. Procrastinate Not with the important things like paying your bills or finishing a work project. When you procrastinate with impulsive behavior, you are actually practicing Self Control. We all know self-control is essential to keeping resolutions, but how do you strengthen it? Start small. It can be as simple as denying yourself a piece of candy, cake, you fill in the blank. Something small that really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. No one will notice but you, which is the most important part. When you do things to get the attention of others, your EGO gets in the way and totally distorts your perception of self-control. When your EGO leads, you are trying to control others, not your SELF. This is not an art, it is a weakness and it’s manipulation. Leading with your EGO will always result in long term disappointment and dissatisfaction. It takes you away from what’s important to the real you. If you are always performing for an audience, what happens when the audience goes away?
Focus on self-control when no one is watching and you’ll build the SELF-Confidence you need to stick with your resolutions. Is there a TV show or sporting event you really wanted to watch? What would happen if you chose to miss it? Would your world fall apart? Probably not, and you would have the satisfaction knowing that you had the Self-Discipline to take it or leave it. Afraid? Don’t be, it’s usually the first feeling you’ll get when you choose to give up something you think is important to you. When you take the step to leave it, you’ll see more clearly what is really important to you. Hopefully it’s your resolutions, and you’ve just taken a huge step towards keeping them. This doesn’t mean you have to give up those little things like a piece of candy forever. It’s just an exercise in Self-Discipline. Practice self-control with small things and you’ll have the confidence to stick it out with your resolutions.
5. Eat a piece of Candy Take a weekend away, celebrate your accomplishments in some way, even a small way. Obviously I don’t want to encourage eating candy, but if it is appropriate for the situation, go ahead. Just don’t eat the whole bag to celebrate. That wouldn’t be helpful for anyone. I know I did list candy as something on my list of Health Busters I avoid, but life happens. Yes, I have eaten candy. And I probably will again. A lot of it is Gluten-Free, and they come in small packages. Not much harm done. As you consider your Resolutions this year, don’t forget to carve out grace for life. Stop and smell the roses, eat a piece of candy, play with a kid. Making new habits is important, how you carry them out is part of the process, the art of Self-Discipline.
January is the month many people make resolutions for the New Year. It’s a good time to reflect on the past year and look ahead to making change for the better. But real life change happens when the resolutions are part of evolving new habits that become a part of you.