Most of us begin the year enthusiastic and motivated to achieve our goals. We write out or state our new year’s resolutions with excitement to begin. We move forward with our goals diligently throughout the month of January and then February rolls around. By then we have started to fall back on some of our commitments as life “gets” in the way. We lose our drive to keep going the more we “fail” to achieve our goal until eventually we fall back into regular patterns of behaviour. Now, we are disappointed and constantly punish ourselves for not keeping up. That how it goes for me anyway, with some goals.
The reality is that most of us make these grand resolutions without clearing mapping out how we are going to achieve them. Most goals take time to achieve. They are a process that requires time, energy and resources to be chipped away piece by piece. You do not set a goal to learn a new language and magically learn it in one shot. It takes strategy and effort and just because you fall behind does not mean it will not happen.
Today, I want to share some tips that you and I can use to help us keep on track with our goals and succeed in life. As with most things in life, it is not easy but it can be simple if we make the time to plan and put in the effort to execute. When seeking to achieve anything, self-discipline usually as a major role to play.
What is Self-Discipline?
Self–discipline is the ability to push yourself forward, stay motivated, and take action, regardless of how you’re feeling, physically or emotionally.https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/self-discipline.htm
Self-control, an aspect of inhibitory control, is the ability to regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behavior in the face of temptations and impulses. As an executive function, self-control is a cognitive process that is necessary for regulating one’s behavior in order to achieve specific goals.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-control
Why is Self-Discipline Important?
Self-Discipline is a useful skill to have, yes it is a skill that can be developed over time, because it allows you to pursue your goals even when you do not feel like it or when the odds seem against you. It enables you to stay consistent in your behaviour, no matter how tired or fed up you are on the inside. It helps you to produce high quality work, perform well and learn effectively. Self-discipline, more than self-motivation and inspiration, can determine how successful you will be in life.
Self motivation is the ability to drive oneself to take initiative and action to pursue goals and complete tasks. It’s an inner drive to take action — to create and to achieve.https://soulsalt.com/self-motivation/
Inspiration: something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create : a force or influence that inspires someone. : a person, place, experience, etc., that makes someone want to do or create something. : a good idea.https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/inspiration
Inspiration gives you that surge of energy to create or change something, motivation is the drive that gets you started on that change and discipline keeps you moving forward in the face of adversity and distractions.
Self-Discipline in Action.
How To Develop Your Self-Discipline
Set a Goal, Deadline or Challenge
Choose something to focus on. Do you want to spend less time on your phone? Do you want to move your body more often? Do you want to spend quality time with your loved ones? You need to have something to aim for. Once you know what your general focus is, it is time to implement SMART. Get Specific, make your goal Measurable and ensure that it is Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.
Consider this: I want to limit my screen time daily. In order to achieve that, my SMART goal is I will spend 1 hour and 15 minutes on social media everyday: 30 minutes on Instagram, the same on Facebook and 15 minutes on Pinterest.
When breaking an old habit remember to fill in the space created with something else so that you are less likely to fall back into old patterns or pick up another bad habit.
Determine your motivation
What is your why? Why do you what to achieve this goal? What is the driving force behind setting this goal? What is your motivation?
I want to decrease my screen time so I can have more time to read books, to experience the world around me, to give my mind and eyes a break from the screen light and to safe guard my mental health.
Create a plan
Having a strategy makes the goals easier to execute. You know what to do, for how long and when do to it. The key is to make the process of achieving your goal as easy as possible.
Continuing with our screen time scenario: I will be intentional with how I use my phone by doing more in less time. During my time off the screen I will create engaging content. I will post at 9:00 am daily(consider your account insights here) and spend 15 minutes responding to comments, getting to know my new followers and engaging with their posts. Later that day, I will spend another 15 minutes replying to follow-up comments and engaging with my followers. To ensure that I do no go over the time limit, I will set a daily limit reminder on each social media platform.
Distractions are everywhere so it is important to remove any temptations that can hinder you from pursuing your goals. You have to create an environment that will increase your chances of success. Eliminating or reducing distractions will make it easier on you, especially on days that your resistance is low.
I will turn off notifications on the social media platforms so I am not tempted to respond beyond the time set.
When trying to build any habit or improve any skill it is crucial to start with little steps. Remember you are training a muscle to perform in a new way so baby steps are necessary to avoid injury or major set-backs. You do not want to take up a challenge that is so great that you feel unmotivated and afraid to begin. Neither do you want a goal that is so easy that you get bored and do not put in any effort. The right balance has to be found.
Be gentle with yourself
You will “fail” that is simply part of the process. Just pick yourself back up and start again. Understand that you are human and mistakes are a natural part of any new process. Reflect on and analyse why it did not work today and then try again tomorrow. Stop pressuring yourself and it will be more enjoyable.
The more you repeat, the easier it becomes and the stronger you become.
When trying to build any habit or develop any skill, having some sort of accountability system is important. Not everyone requires an external accountability partner though. Some peoples are great at holding their self accountable but having that external source can be beneficial. When choosing an accountability partner ensure that that person or persons are invested in your growth and success. You do not want someone who is trying to undermine your success. Make sure you trust this person to help you and can motivate you effectively when you need the push.
Rewards or punishment
Are you more motivated to accomplish a task when you receive a reward for achieving a step or by the fear of punishment for not fulfilling the task. Everyone is motivated by different things so understanding your drive will help you create an effective system. Think about your past experiences and how you responded to either a reward or punishment. Once you have figured out what works for you, consider what type of reward will motivate you or what form of punishment will deter you from slacking off.
See various meanings for punishment, reward and reinforcement under the heading, Definitions.
Choose your goals wisely
You do not want to waste your self-discipline trying to achieve a goal that does not matter to you or goes against your natural tendencies. For example, while I was in school and preparing for a test, I was always cramming. No matter what I did I could not get myself to stick to studying months in advance. The think is I work well under pressure and I was already retaining the information during class. By understanding this about myself, I simply set aside time a week or a few days before the test to study. As a result I was about to leverage my self-discipline to my advantage.
If you are forcing yourself to complete a task because you think that is what you are suppose to do then, get rid of that thought. Revaluate the situation and try to understand what works best for you. It is perfectly okay to outsource tasks that you are no good at.
Nourish your body
I know that when I am hungry or I do not feel my best, I am more likely to give in to temptations and choose the easy way out by falling back into old patterns. Therefore, eating on time and choosing healthy foods is necessary for helping you remain focused and disciplined. Which in turn helps you to achieve your goals and succeed in life.
We all have goals that we what to achieve and having self-discipline is essential for succeeding. The question is whether you are willing to put in the effort and make the time to build that skill. Consider how self-discipline can make an area of your life more successful and how important that goal is to you.
Thank you for reading.
Love generously, Inspire daily, Learn constantly
Reward: something that is given in return for good or evil done or received or that is offered or given for some service or attainment.https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/reward
Punishment: suffering, pain, or loss that serves as retribution.https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/punishment
Reinforcement: the process of encouraging or establishing a belief or pattern of behaviour.Oxford dictionary
Positive reinforcement means giving something to the subject when they perform the desired action so they associate the action with the reward and do it more often. The reward is a reinforcing stimulushttps://examples.yourdictionary.com/examples-of-positive-reinforcement.html
negative reinforcement: taking away an undesirable stimulus to increase a behavior. positive punishment: adding an undesirable stimulus to stop or decrease a behavior. positive reinforcement: adding a desirable stimulus to increase a behavior.https://courses.lumenlearning.com/waymaker-psychology/chapter/operant-conditioning/
Negative punishment, it is where you take away something positive to decrease an undesirable or bad behavior.https://examples.yourdictionary.com/negative-punishment-examples-and-scenarios.html