Discipline not so easy… 3 tips to help.

I do realize that discipline doesn’t come easy for many of us. For a multitude of reasons, you may not be strong enough to keep on track when you are trying to use your will to reach a goal… that’s okay. You’re not alone. And indeed it isn’t that easy either…

Here are 3 tips I use myself when discipline becomes more challenging. Of course, you will be required to put in a little effort but I promise it won’t be so bad…

Tip #1 – Use Baby Steps
Whenever you put your mind to reach a goal, break it down in such tiny steps that it won’t look like you’re taking a leap each time you try to move forward. Here’s a story to demonstrate (and make you laugh).

A few years ago, I was told I don’t drink nearly enough water in a day. I actually don’t drink water at all. I hate water! I consider my morning coffee (I only drink one a day) to be my water intake. I know, I know… It’s awful isn’t it? Well, I was told to drink 8 cups a day. So I filled a big jug of water and tried to finish it in one day, with the intention of filling it again the next. Needless to say, the jug went back in the cupboard that same night! Forget that! I tried to drown my system and my brain said “Are you out of your mind??”

Had I tried one cup in the morning after brushing my teeth for a week or more, making this an easy habit to implement in my routine, followed by another cup after brushing my teeth in the evening the next week, I would have accomplished 25% of my goal with little effort. I would have also been ready to slowly tackle the other 75% in the following weeks. Instead, I killed all my chances by making the effort too big and too difficult to handle. I still hate water and coffee is still my water intake… I got traumatized by the experience!!

Tip #2 – Be consistent
By using Baby Steps, you will be able to move forward slowly but surely towards your goal. The change won’t be drastic and that is a good thing. It helps you ease into the new routine. Cold turkey isn’t easy nor is it advisable for everyone.

Here is the important part: because the Baby Step technique spreads your goal completion over a longer period of time, it is important to be consistent in your efforts along the way, moving from one Baby Step to the next as the milestones are achieved.

You can also be consistent in motivating yourself for each milestone you complete. If I use my water drinking goal, for each cup I add in my routine and stick to, I can reward myself with a treat at the end of the week, such as with a Starbucks coffee instead of the regular cafeteria one.  You will want to stay consistent simply to get your expected reward. Makes you feel like a kid again!

Habits are created when you stick to your new behavior for 21 days. Use this guideline to keep consistency and continue with your Baby Steps until you are comfortable with moving on to the next.

Tip #3 – Focus on the importance of the outcome
When you first decided to reach your goal and you realized you need discipline to reach it, you knew why you needed to make that decision. Basically, you were looking to attain an outcome. Remember it. Visualize it. Why did you want it so much? How important was it and is it to you?

You have to match the desire for the outcome with the need to put in effort for it. When it gets tough, you will have to remind yourself of the importance of the outcome. Use your Journal to write the details and read them as often as required.  Focus on the outcome to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It will help you persevere.

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These are just a few tips to get you used to the idea of moving forward with discipline in the achievement of your goals. Of course, it isn’t always easy. Even for the seasoned ones like me, there are times when I raise the white flag and give in to temptation or to laziness. When there is no real harm done and you can get back on track quickly, things get back to normal as if nothing ever happened… Your Baby Steps, your consistency and your focus on outcome will help you use discipline for success and happiness.

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2 Responses to “Discipline not so easy… 3 tips to help.”

  1. Peter Wright says:

    You are absolutely correct about being able to replace an old habit with a new one in 21 days, here is how I experienced it myself.

    2 years ago, I injured my left shoulder, it took a year of physiotherapy for it to recover. During that period it was extremely painful to put on a coat or jacket as I had been doing for over 50 years.

    Because I am right-handed, by inserting my right arm in the sleeve first then the left, a 50 year old habit!

    I discovered that by putting my left arm in the sleeve first, it was much less painful so I resolved to do it that way. At first, almost every day out of habit,I started with the right, felt the pain then stopped and started again with the left.

    After the first week, I was starting with the left more often, in almost exactly 21 days, the new system became a habit and I no longer had to think about it. The action was automatic.

    • Carmen Marie says:

      Same applied to my writing a post a day and to my difficult diet… it’s absolutely true Peter, that before long we can get used to the new habit and we don’t even look back.

      I can think of other examples such as removing bread from my diet if I want to lose weight, drinking a glass of water every morning, doing some stretches as soon as I get out of bed… these are simple Baby steps to start with that we can implement before tackling the bigger steps to reach the ultimate goal!

      I think the effort alone scares or bothers some of us… it’s a hurdle to overcome… maybe these tips will make it a tad easier.

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