The idea of ‘discipline’ can be both empowering and dreadful. We need it for forming new routines, getting rid of bad habits and staying on top of our lives. Below are six easy yet effective steps to develop more discipline in our lives.
1. Aim to achieve small milestones in immediate future
It’s hard to force oneself to keep doing something when it feels like there’s no end in sight. Break up a big goal you may have into smaller ones and set the deadline to some time in the near future to create a sense of urgency. For instance, instead of aiming to finish a book in a month, aim to read 10 to 12 pages a day. Instead of trying to lose 10 kilos in six months, aim to eat healthy every day, cut down on sugary and junk food, sleep 7-8 hours daily, stay hydrated and exercise for at least 150 minutes a week.
2. Stay motivated by remembering the purpose and outcome
Doing difficult or tedious things often feels less painful when we remember why we’re doing it and the result we want to achieve. List down your goals or create a vision board of your dreams and refer to it regularly. Visualize the destination you want to reach and more importantly, the obstacles you’ll face on the journey there. When you feel low on motivation, read or watch interviews of people who succeeded in the area you want to flourish in and recall that they were once at where you are today (i.e. the starting point or midway to the summit).
3. Celebrate effort and progress regularly
It’s dangerous to get attached to results as we might not get what we want in the form we want or at the time we want it. A good way to go about staying motivated and thus disciplined is to regularly celebrate effort and progress. The key is to acknowledge the hard work, which is within one’s choice and control, and the advances made thanks to that effort. Progress doesn’t have to be being closer to the goal, it can be in the form of increased knowledge and know-how thanks to previous failed attempts.
4. Set frequent reminders so we don’t stay distracted
Sometimes we don’t stay disciplined, not because we don’t want to, but because we are distracted and forget to. It’s easy to get sucked into an addictive TV series, hours of internet surfing or a busy social life. To combat this, set reminder alarms on your phone. For instance, in my endeavor to be more positive, present and grateful, I’ve set alarms that go off during the day to remind me to meditate for a minute, focus on positive and constructive thoughts and to give thanks for the good things that happened that day.
5. Get inspired by being around disciplined people
We’re the average of the five people we spend the most time with. It’s easy to create excuses on why we need not do something that’s good or important for us when the people close to us tells us that it’s alright to cut ourselves some slack. Surround yourself with people who live by standards you aspire to. When I was trying to get my finances in shape, I got my brother, who has always been prudent with money, to hold me accountable over the course of six months. That helped me tremendously in developing good spending practices and saving habits and I can’t be more thankful.
6. Develop a system of trigger goals
More often than not, we procrastinate simply because we can’t see the next steps we need to take. Spend some time to create a systematic way around achieving your goals. Use trigger goals to make it a no brainer for you to exercise discipline. For instance, my trigger goals for myself are each morning when I wake up I’ll drink a glass of lemon water, each afternoon during lunch I’ll aim for some movement (i.e. yoga, pilates, a stroll, etc) and each night before sleeping I’ll plan and prepare for the next day.
Which areas of your life do you struggle with being disciplined? How would you apply the above tips into your life? Share with us your thoughts and comments below.