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Self-Discipline: How to Get It and Why You Need It

Determined woman on track

Ah, the new year. Every January seems to be the perfect time to focus on a fresh start. It seems like the ideal place in our lives for a "tune-up" - to stop and look at bad habits we’d like to break and good habits we’d like to develop. Many of us make (and a few of us keep) New Year’s resolutions. This New Year hits different. As we usher in 2021, it seems to be less “New Year, New Me” and more “New Year, New Circumstances”.

Still, there may be room for working on ourselves. For a lot of us, the stress and uncertainty of 2020 left us with some habits we’d like to break. For others, we know more than ever what it’s like to dig deep, grit our teeth and accomplish the seemingly impossible.

Even those who were spared the harshest blows of the pandemic-dominated year were dealt a heap of excess stress caused by a change in routine and extra responsibilities. Oftentimes homes served as workplaces and classrooms instead of a respite from them. Many of us put aside focusing on things like counting calories, counting steps or counting the hours of sleep we got and just counted our blessings we got through another day. The idea of organizing our closets or scrutinizing our budgets may have taken a back seat focusing on the day-to-day physical and mental health of our families. The crutches we used to cope when things got tough seemed more than justified even if they may have been unhealthy.

What does this all mean for those resolutions we might make? A recent article in the New York Times said “This Year, Try Downsizing Your Resolutions”. The article recommends writing down one or two attainable goals and breaking them down into bitesize bits. That sounds like just the kind of baby steps we might need. No matter the size or number of your goals, the linchpin remains self-discipline. Ancient philosophers, world leaders, business experts, coaches, athletes and many others tell us that self-discipline is the single greatest factor in determining success. Author and entrepreneur John Maxwell said it well, “Success doesn’t just happen. You have to be intentional about it, and that takes discipline.”

We’ve put together a few tips and tricks to help get your self-discipline game going. They were originally featured in our episode Self-Discipline 101.

Hopefully, you’ve watched at least one episode of the game show Who Wants to Be A Millionaire and have an idea of what it means to use a lifeline to help you when you need it most. Making positive life changes and making it to the million-dollar prize both require a few lifelines along the way to get the best results. We have some advice when it comes to making those upgrades to your life. Before you even get to the lifelines, go ahead and set an attainable goal with a realistic deadline that you can focus on. Write down your goal and post it in an easy to spot location so that you are reminded to stay on track.

First Lifeline - Ask the Audience:

You already have your goal in mind and in view. Now, you need to “ask the audience” or even Google, Siri or Alexa for some tips and life hacks on how to succeed. For example, if you plan to lose weight, you need to research things like how many daily calories are required for a healthy male or female per day, how much sugar is really in each can of soda, and what really happens when we skip breakfast.

Second Lifeline – 50/50:

This time, you get to remove some of the wrong decisions. On the show, you are left with one right answer and one wrong answer. In life, you can go ahead and remove one bad habit and replace it with one good habit. It’s easier for the brain to replace an old habit with a new, go-to habit, rather than quitting entirely. Do you struggle with distractions caused by electronics and/or social media? What if you tried meditation or drawing or coloring books for adults as your way to unwind for a few minutes instead of reaching for your phone or tablet?

Third Lifeline – Phone a Friend:

What better way to get support than to call on a friend? Make sure to choose wisely. You want a knowledgeable friend who can offer guidance, hold you accountable, and help lift you up as you begin to make healthy changes. If you’re a shopaholic who wants to quit, you might not want your BFF to invite you out for afternoon fun at the mall.

Final Lifeline – Ask an Expert:

There are times when you need to seek the advice of a professional. Whether you need a dietitian, nutritionist, therapist, professional organizer, or life coach, we encourage you to ask for help and work with them to visualize and realize your ultimate success.

We’re rooting for you as you use self-discipline to start new, life-changing routines. We’ll also root for you to win the million dollars if we ever see you on a popular game show!

More practical steps along with stories of our personal successes and failures are featured in this episode. Click on this podcast to give you that extra boost to win at life!

Link to Imagine Yourself Podcast episode on self discipline on Apple podcasts

Link to Imagine Yourself Podcast episode on self discipline on Spotify

Link to Imagine Yourself Podcast episode on self discipline on Google Podcasts




Success Self Discipline quote


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