If there’s one thing you can work on that will completely change your life for the better, it’s taking action on your goals. Plenty of people have goals but not everyone is willing to put in the work that it takes to accomplish those goals.
In order to take consistent action, you need to develop self-discipline. It’s a little different than motivation. Motivation means you take action when you feel like it. Discipline on the other hand, means you take action whether you feel like it or not. And that, is the key to success.
The following are some tips on how to be a more disciplined person.
1. Today, Not Someday
If your aim is to be more self-disciplined, don’t push taking action to a future date. If possible, start right away. See it as your first challenge. See it as a test of your commitment to your goals an dreams.
Far too often, people will say “someday” or “next year” when referring to when they plan on taking action. Pushing the start date to some time in the future is just another way of saying you’re fearful failing. You can call it procrastination but we only procrastinate because we assume taking action will be more painful than not taking action.
You’re going to have to decide whether or not your really want to accomplish your goals. If you do, you need to start as soon as possible. By delaying, you’re sending a message to your brain that this goal you’re after isn’t that important after all.
If you don’t make your dreams a priority, it’s not going to happen.
2. Why Must You Take Action?
Without strong reasons to take action, developing strong self-discipline will be a challenge. When the decision to go back to sleep or watch another show on TV or video on Youtube instead of working on your goal is easy to make, you’re going to constantly be struggling.
What is the true purpose of your goal? Why do you want to develop the discipline to achieve that goal? Dig deeper than just money or a promotion. Most of our goals come down to an emotion. Be it love, respect, the sense of power or whatever, it’s a certain feeling that you’re after.
Many people want to make tons of money. Why? Having a bank account with a large number means nothing. Feeling free means something. Feeling powerful means something. Feeling accepted and love means something.
If you have strong enough reasons, reasons that move you emotionally, to accomplish your goals, it makes taking action far easier. When things get tough, these reasons are what will help you to keep pushing toward your goal.
If you have weak reasons, the smallest setbacks can make you quit.
3. Plan for Setbacks in Advance
Speaking of setbacks, here’s something you need to realize: Setbacks are inevitable.
Instead of getting caught off guard by them, know that they’re coming so you can handle them. Think of what can go wrong and deal with them in advance if possible.
For instance, if you’re trying to discipline yourself to go to the gym every day, what excuses can come up to stop you from following through?
Will having to get out of a warm bed stop you? Will not seeing the scale going in the right direction stop you? Will the soreness stop you? Will the temptation to eat junk food stop you?
Whatever the excuses that has stopped you in the past, figure out what you’re going to do to overcome them when they arise.
Setbacks have caused countless dreams to die. Regret, frustration, depression… these feelings can be the result of failing to overcome setbacks. Far too many people gave up on their dreams because of setbacks. Don’t be one of them.
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4. Out of Sight, Out of Mind
When you’re trying to discipline yourself, the biggest challenge you’ll have is the urge to go back to your old habits. A great tip is to get rid of anything that will trigger that urge.
For example, you want to get things done but always end up wasting time surfing the net on your cellphone. The solution would be to put your cellphone at least 20 feet away from you where you can’t see it.
Or say you want to stop eating junk food. It’s a lot easier when you don’t have any junk food in the house. Hopefully, having to go to the store to buy some will be a big enough obstacle to stop you from eating junk food.
This is part of the planning for setbacks tip. You need to think about these things and come up with a solution in advance so when these things come up, you’ll more easily be able to handle them.
Self-discipline is hard enough on it’s own. There’s no reason for you to make it even harder. Set yourself up for success.
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5. Know That It Gets Easier
The good news is although it’s going to be mentally tough to develop self-discipline, it does get easier over time.
The more action you take consistently, the strong the habit of taking action will become. When your actions turn into habits, you won’t even need much discipline.
The challenge, of course, is taking action long enough to go from struggling to take action to taking action without really thinking about it.
Your life won’t change until you do. In order to change, you must take consistent action. In order to take consistent action, you must have strong enough reasons to do so. When you take consistent action, you are self-disciplined. And when you do that for a long enough time, taking action will be easier.
From there, your life will change.
Here are 5 more tips on self-discipline from Forbes.