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How to Find and Improve Your Self Discipline
So, the New Year is right around the corner and I don’t know about you; but I need a kick in the butt right now to find my self discipline!
At the beginning of last year I had a ton of self discipline, and possibly encouraged it in those around me as well. I was working full time outside the home, in a call center and with horrible hours (3pm to midnight). But, I wanted to get in shape. So, I joined a gym and, with a friend from work, went to that gym as often as we could; after we got out of work. I lived about an hour away from work, so on nights I went to the gym, I wouldn’t get home til around two in the morning.
Now, as a stay at home mom, and a basically structure-less schedule; I feel like I have less time and less self discipline.
My motivation and discipline to try to stay in shape withered away as the months did this year. And, every once in awhile I would try again; working out at home. Trying to do what I can to work out, whether it be giving my daughters piggy back rides or putting on a work out dvd.
But, these last few months have been the hardest. I don’t know if you are feeling this way as well, but I feel the closer it is to the end of the year; the less self discipline I have, maybe even in hopes that it’ll magically appear again at New Year’s.
Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to leave things up to chance. So, let’s go through a few steps to get our self discipline back now, and not just wait for the New Year.
Step One: What’s Holding You Back?
The first step to gaining our self discipline back is figuring out how or why we lost it in the first place.
For myself, this past year has been pretty chaotic and some pretty big life events occurred that flipped my life upside down. To quickly explain; my family and I moved from one coast of the U.S. to the other and I went from working full time at a call center to being a stay at home mom for my two children.
And, I could spit out about 5 or so other excuses as to why my self discipline has been drained from me this past year; along with why I’ve been lacking motivation. But, that’s simply another thing that has been holding me back; excuses. And, I have a good feeling that you have quite a few excuses holding you back, as well.
We need to dig through those excuses and find our way out of them. I’ve heard that a good way to stop making excuses is to stop saying “I can’t do this because..” and start phrasing it “It’s not important to me”. This little psychological trick is really useful. Let’s try it out.
Now, I try to find the time to workout and exercise, but “I can’t find the time because… I have two very demanding children who don’t give me the time of day to do anything I want”.
Instead of saying that last sentence, I need to find a way through my excuse of feeling like I don’t have enough time; so I should be saying;
Now, I try to find the time to workout and exercise, but “it’s not important to me.”
With wording it this way, I think to myself how untrue that sentence is. Getting in enough exercise is important to me, so I need to start treating it like it is. Instead of trying to find the time, I need to make the time.
Now, you go ahead and try this exercise. See how much of an impact it can really make on you and your habits!
Step Two: Set Goals
The next step in getting a hold of your self discipline is to find out what you actually want to accomplish by using it.
Do you want to eat healthy, get fit, become a better parent, or something else?
It’s important to know what you want to do when you gain your self discipline back, and to actually set goals. Without goals and expectations, we can lose our motivation and self discipline pretty quickly; because, what’s the point. What’s the point of having self discipline if we’re not trying to get somewhere in our life with it. There needs to be an end goal, and then more goals after that; to keep us going, to keep pushing ourselves to be better, and to keep our self discipline strong.
I’m the type of person who thrives on goals and having deadlines; it’s what kept me going through out college. It’s also what kept me motivated my last year of college when I gave birth to my first daughter during the fall semester and stayed strong and kept my grades up the entire year to graduate on time and not even skip a beat. (All while pumping bottles, making homemade baby food, and learning to care for a helpless newborn.)
Unfortunately, what I need my self discipline for now isn’t given a deadline or a specific desired result from a professor, or even another person. The deadline, the goal, and the desired result has to come from me, and your’s has to come from you. We create what we want for ourselves. And, if we don’t, then we have no one to blame but ourselves.
So, set your goals. Give yourself deadlines. And, be a little realistic with what can get done by the deadline. We do, after all, have quite a bit of responsibility. But, then again, don’t be too easy on yourself; you have to push yourself to get better.
Remember, a diamond is made under pressure.
Step Three: Schedule It
The third step is to schedule in the activities, or tasks, that need to be completed for you to reach your goal. As silly as it may sound, I’m serious. Go ahead, grab your planner, or the calendar on your phone, and schedule in what needs to get done. Don’t blow this step off, and don’t blow off your schedule.
If you want to become fit; schedule in time to exercise everyday, or at least a couple days a week. If you want to eat healthier; schedule in time to meal plan and meal prep so you can actually stick with it. If you want to start becoming a better parent; schedule in time to spend time with each child individually, or time to come up with ways to handle difficult situations. (That way, when the difficult situation with your child arises, you’ll already know what to do and you won’t simply react to their behavior.)
Depending on what your goal is, will determine how much time your need to dedicate to accomplish it. It could be 2 hours once a week, or 2 hours a day. It’s up to you.
Step Four: Do it
Once you schedule what needs to get done; do it.
There’s no way around this one. This step is what strengthens our self discipline.
The more you stick to your schedule and do what you planned in the last step; the stronger your self discipline will become, and the closer to your goal you will get!!
This is not the step to slack off in. You slack here and you will know it, and you will probably become disappointed in yourself. This is the time to rid yourself of all of those excuses. Excuses can not exist when you get this far. If they try to peek out at you, find a way to not let them.
You have kids and you don’t think that they will leave you alone for enough time to reach your goals; include them.
Include them and help them find their self discipline if they’re old enough. If they aren’t old enough to understand that, then include them by letting them exercise with you, or meal plan/ prep with you. Can’t get to the gym because you have kids; have a dance party with them for half an hour. (Chances are you’ll have twice as much fun and burn almost, if not more, calories. It’s a win-win.)
Step Five: Be patient and don’t lose motivation!
Sometimes goals don’t get accomplished as soon as we would wish, and not from lack of trying or effort, but from something else out of our control. Maybe we wanted to be able to fit into one of our Christmas dresses that we bought a few years ago, and we don’t fit in it by Christmas, or New Years. We shouldn’t lose hope, and we shouldn’t lose our motivation or self discipline because of this. In fact, we should use this set back to strengthen our self discipline and maybe even work harder.
We can’t always control how, or where, our body loses weight or gains muscle. A lot of that is dependent on genetics, completely out of our control. But, if we continue to work hard, be patient, and accept ourselves; then we can finally get to our goals, or get to know our bodies well enough to know what a realistic, and healthy, goal would be for ourselves.
This step is so important for many other goals that require self discipline, as well.
Think of becoming a better parent; if you’re a parent then you already know how patient you might have to be, and not just with your kids, but with yourself, too.
Or, say your goal is to finally keep your home clean. Not only do you have to reign in your self discipline, but you also have to encourage everyone else in your home to have some discipline, as well. This requires you to be on the top of your game when it comes to picking up after yourself, enough grace to go around, and patience for when you have to constantly repeat yourself to get your children to take care of their toys that they brought out of the play room…again, too. (Or, for getting your husband to put his dirty clothes in the hamper…not on the floor next to it.)
Step Six: Reap the rewards
Finally, after losing the excuses, setting goals, scheduling goal smashing activities/ tasks, actually completing those tasks, and being patient with yourself; you can finally start reaping the rewards of your hard work and self discipline. Depending on your goals, this may take days, weeks, months, or even a few years. However long it takes, you should be proud of yourself for actually sticking with it to the end.
Use this motivation of completing your goal to encourage more goals to sprout up and strengthen your self discipline. Don’t let these rewards slip, either. Many things that require your discipline to accomplish can quickly disappear if you stop working at them. If you work at them long enough, though, they will become habits and you won’t even have to think about them anymore. What needs to get done to keep your hard earned results in place will just become a part of your life, your everyday routine.
These steps can work with any goal you have in mind; the overall goal of this step by step guide is to help you find and strengthen your self discipline so you can accomplish whatever goal you decide on!
If you need a quick workbook to help you plan out your goals (and eat healthy- because I’m a little bit of a health nut) then you can sign up to get my workbook How to have a Healthy and Productive Day!!