12/12/2007

Developing Die-Hard Discipline

Your biggest obstacle
Before you incorporate a new ritual or routine into your life, you should be prepared mentally on how to overcome those obstacles that will seek to destroy your new habit. Think ahead to what you will do when you "do not feel" like doing what you are supposed to do. For example, I wanted to incorporate an evening routine that included, among other things, time set aside to tend to my external appearance. My biggest hindrance would manifest itself as laziness. Often I would become sleepy before I could implement my new ritual and promised myself that I would be able to complete the tasks the following night when I was not so tired. That pattern repeated itself until I finally found a solution. The solution to my situation was to start my ritual hours before bed-time so I would not have to be concerned with sleepiness as a hindrance to my new habit. By singling out my obstacle and finding a way to resolve it, I was able to maintain my nightly routine without issue.

Holding yourself accountable
I am sure that you are well aware of the fact that we are more likely to do something if we know that we will have to give an account for its completion. You can chose to use either an internal or an external means of holding yourself accountable depending on your level of discipline.

If you are more of an externally motivated individual, here are some ways to hold yourself accountable for increasing your discipline:

-Tell a close friend or family member of your intentions to change your lifestyle. Let them know the specific actions you will take to make sure that you reach your goals. Have that person contact you weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly so you can provide updates on your progress. Knowing that you will be asked to give an account for your actions will serve as an effective way to increase your discipline.

-Take positive action in anticipation of reaching your goals. For example, you can give away most of your clothes in your current size because you want to make sure that you reach your goal of dropping 2 dress sizes. Another example would be to schedule a speech presentation in front of a group of people as an accountability tool for you overcoming your fear of speaking. For every goal that you have, think of some action that you can take right now to force you to maintain discipline to reach that goal.

If you are internally motivated you can build discipline by using these tips:


-Create an accountability log which lists the actions that you should be making daily. Use that log to document every time you keep your promise to yourself of accomplishing some task. That log will also serve as a record of the times that you do not maintain your discipline.

-Use Jerry Seinfeld's productivity tip. Jerry Seinfeld, the famous millionaire comedian, kept a one page yearly calender on his wall as his accountability tool. Everyday that he worked on his comedy material he would X out that day with a red marker. Soon he created a chain days marked with a red X. His new goal would then be to "not break the chain." The longer the chain, the harder he tried to maintain the chain. This is one of my favorite methods of developing die-hard discipline.

Remember the dangling carrot
All of us are aware of the analogy of dangling a carrot in front of a horse. The carrot is of such value to the horse that he will continue to move towards it no matter how far he has to walk for it. The trick to keeping the horse moving is to place the carrot close enough to the horse's line of sight to motivate him. Whatever it is you want to have, you must always keep the image of it in front of you. You must be able to see it so closely that you can almost reach out and touch it. But, unlike the dangling carrot, what you desire can can actually be obtained if you keep working at it. If you do not keep your goal before you at all times, you will begin to lose sight of why you are maintaining your discipline day after day even if "you do not feel" like it.

These are some simple but very effective steps that you can implement right away. Remember that discipline is simply the ability to do what you have to do, when you have do it, every time you have to do it. Use these tips to elevate your self-discipline to the next level.

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