It’s easy to be disciplined when there is no distraction and no discomfort. However, life is full of surprises, and nothing remains the same.
After all, change is the only constant. Thus, it’s safe to say that everyone encounters self-discipline issue from time to time and to various degrees.
And like any other skills, staying disciplined requires continuous practice, so you don’t lose the muscle. I bet you’re already a disciplined person, but in some areas, you still need improvements. Like all of us.
The following are ten steps to help you to remain motivated and stay on track in achieving goals despite distraction and discomfort. Train your “discipline muscle” with small things and small increments every day, just like when you’re weight training at the gym.
1. Stay committed
Pick a measurable goal and stay committed to it. Instill within you an unshakeable belief that the plan will work out well. This mindset is the most important foundation to achieve anything significant, so it’s imperative to have and nurture.
2. Keep thrusting forward despite distraction and (minor) discomfort
Ignore any distraction or discomfort coming your way. Distract yourself. Don’t stop just because of something is distracting you or making you feel uncomfortable. The more you can stay focused and endure it, the higher your resistance. Thus the better quality of output you can produce.
3. Believe that any discomfort shall eventually pass, and success is imminent
When experiencing any discomfort, either a minor or a major one, like an illness or a personal tragedy, continue believing that everything will eventually be all right. Endure them and be patient. It will pass and, whenever you’re ready, your hard work in working toward goals will soon be bearing fruits.
4. Follow the steps of successful people
Read biographies of distinguished people, talk to inspiring individuals you know in person, and listen to podcast interviews with your success idols. Learn their steps and how they solve problems. Most likely, they’re self-disciplined individuals, as it’s almost impossible to be successful without this trait. Thus, whenever you feel less disciplined, grab that book, phone, or iPod and start getting inspired.
5. Remind yourself of intrinsic motivation
If your motivation to do something is simply because it’s the “trendy” thing to do, most likely it wouldn’t last long. Find within you an intrinsic reason on why it’s something you must do. Does this activity make you a better person? In what way? How is it going to change your relationship with other people? Does it make you happy?
6. Enjoy the activity, be grateful
Be happy whenever you’re doing this activity and be grateful because you’re in a shape good enough to be able to perform it. This would switch your brain to think that it’s a positive and high-value activity, which is key for endurance and long-term commitment.
7. Remind yourself that today is a fabulous day
Even when there have been several less-than-perfect incidents, say to yourself that today is a great day, because it could have been worse. This ritual would reinforce you and train your mind to maintain positivity, which is key to stay disciplined.
8. Do the difficult things first, create mental compass
If possible, do the difficult things first. It may not be possible, such as in a chronological activity, in which certain things must be done first before the others. When you’ve accomplished the difficult things first, the subsequent ones would feel easier because they truly are. This would create a positive experience for your body and mind.
9. Recognize burnout
Being burnt out is when you can no longer work on anything because your physical and mental capacity can no longer take the pressure. Perhaps you’ve been training yourself at the gym for weeks without any break, perhaps you’ve been working yourself out for months without any holiday, or perhaps you’ve been pushing yourself at work to finish that project. Sometimes whenever we’ve used our body and mind too much, we’d need a good long break so that we can remain healthy and functional. Taking a break doesn’t mean you’re not disciplined. It means you need a break.
10. Ending negative self-talk
Criticizing is the easiest thing to do, as it merely looks for bad or weak spots. Giving constructive criticism, however, requires more than seeing one’s weaknesses, but providing solutions to them. If you see something that can be improved, tell yourself what you need to do. And stick with it. Don’t just say to yourself, “You’re overweight,” without any follow-ups. Having negative self-talks is easy. The hard part is using it for improving yourself.
Having self-discipline is a necessity for success and it’s a skill that can be trained. Stay on track by controlling your mind and recognizing what your body and mind are telling you. At last, remain convinced and believe that things will eventually go your way. It’s a promise you make to yourself and the Universe, and it shall come true. Guaranteed.
In the corporate world, she serves as Digital Strategist for Oberlo (part of Shopify).