Essentially self-discipline is the ability to get yourself to take action regardless of your emotional state. Self-disciple is a habit to be applied to your life day-by-day. Self-discipline requires you to connect today’s efforts with tomorrow’s results. The quality of your life depends on the choices you make. Sometimes it is necessary to make sacrifices today to meet success later on. A truly successful life requires hard work, perseverance, acceptance and will-power. The efforts you put into living today to the fullest will determine where your future lies. Every action you take today will have a ripple effect. Steve Pavlina says “Just as it takes muscle to build muscle; it takes self-discipline to build self-discipline. He goes on to say “Self-discipline is like a muscle. The more you train it, the stronger you become. The less you train it, the weaker you become.”
At the beginning of a new year it is inspiring and fun to set goals and imagine what your life will look like if your wishes come true. Along with goal setting, it is also important to decide what action to take to carry out your goals, and to do it! Intentions are powerful but you must also be clear on what you need to do differently to turn your goals into reality. Learn to complete a task and focus on doing one thing at a time. At the same time be kind to yourself, and give up on the need to do things perfectly. When you fall back into old ways of doing things, find an easy re-entry spot. Maybe your goal was to keep your desk more organized and you've successfully stuck to your new year’s resolution for the first four days of January. Now you notice the piles of paperwork piling up and a messy corner of your desk filled with sticky-notes, mail, pens and paper clips. Take small steps, such as spending 3 minutes before your lunch break throwing away one unneeded piece of paper. Over time, you will develop a new habit that will stick, you will strengthen your self-discipline muscle. Self-disciple and not breaking your promise to yourself are key ingredients for turning your wishes into reality.
Jenny, an author and mother of a daughter with Down’s Syndrome has come for Morita Coaching for three months and is learning valuable skills to move towards turning her heartfelt dreams into reality. Jenny, like many of us, felt disappointed in her ability to keep her promise and commitment to herself. At the beginning of each year, Jenny set 5 goals to carry out. By the end of November each year, Jenny had not made much progress. She began to realize that her lack of commitment to herself and lack of activity led her down the path of failure. Jenny noticed that not keeping her word to herself was the root of her feelings of inadequacy and incompetence. Not keeping her promise to herself didn’t match her highest values of respect, integrity and honesty. When Jenny broke a promise with her friends, she felt upset. Now it was time for Jenny to honor her commitment to herself the same way she honored her commitment to others. Jenny noticed that when self-discipline was lacking in her daily routine, it similarly created a negative flow effect and her life became chaotic in more areas than one. She began to notice that she ate poorly, didn’t get adequate sleep, didn’t exercise or pay her bills on time. With coaching, Jenny began to find great worth in letting her values pull her forward. Achieving the right mix of honoring herself and her values, together with self-discipline helped Jenny meet her goals and live out her greatest potential.
You may notice that you are constantly breaking promises to yourself, just as Jenny did, and not keeping up with the goals you set for yourself. It is important to distinguish the difference between the emotions you feel when you don’t honor your commitment to get up at 5am and go for a run, or keep your desk clutter-free, or eat a salad for lunch. Become aware of the feelings of disappointment you feel when you disregard your promise to yourself and don’t honor your highest values.
A wonderful quote by David Reynolds, the author of Constructive Living is “Every moment a fresh one.” This is such a potent reminder that wherever life finds you at any given moment, you have the power to choose to act in ways that support your goals. No need to plan; no need to analyze; just do it! When you slack off for a few days, you can always begin anew. As you practice self-discipline and awareness, you will begin to live your life more in-tune with your values and ideals.
When life challenges you, remember be firm, but gentle with yourself and remember there is power in just doing it and sticking to your plans. Take one step at a time, and gradually pick up the pace. Over time you will develop more skills in self-discipline; you will develop more of your self-discipline muscle, as well as be able to enjoy some of the results of your efforts while enjoying a productive and satisfying 2013.
“Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is power” – Lao Tzu