Last week we looked at the Unpopular secret behind success and saw that it was not motivation but self-discipline that gets the job done. Self-discipline is the magic power that makes you virtually unstoppable. How do we obtain this magic power? The answer is easy and difficult at the same time.
Launched in 1988, the Nike “Just Do It” campaign was designed to encourage people to exercise by featuring a series of athletes talking about their feelings as they exercised. However, the slogan has since morphed into the Australian vernacular to mean, “stop messing about and just get on with it”.
Incorporating self-discipline in your life is as simple as “just do it”. There are often a whole lot of emotions that either promote self-discipline or sabotages it but the basic act is simple. Just do it.
Self-discipline is the ability to take control of your actions, feeling and emotions in your life. Last week we saw how the secret of successful people is self-discipline in their lives but other benefits include decreased anxiety, increased happiness and resilience. So, how do we apply this ‘magic power’ in our lives?
1. Just do it.
Self-discipline is all about the action, doing what you planned even when you are feeling unmotivated. Count to ten, take a breath and just do it. Acknowledge that you feel unmotivated and then go ahead anyway. Practising this one step many times builds resilience and you will soon find it much easier to conquer the feelings that sabotage your goals.
2. Keep your goals visible.
Write them down, create a vision board or make them a screen saver. The goal is the reward and the reward is the goal. If you want to achieve these goals, then applying self-discipline will make them happen.
3. Start small.
If you are someone who has little self-discipline in your life, don’t try and change everything overnight or you will be doomed to failure. Pick one small goal first and then set out a plan to achieve it. Start with the easy goals and by the time you reach the more challenging ones, they will seem much simpler. Accomplishing small goals with self-discipline shows you how possible it is to reach the big ones.
4. Be kind to yourself – but not too often.
None of us is perfect so it is guaranteed that we will fail now and again. When you fail, don’t beat yourself up about it but don’t make excuses either. Acknowledge the failure, discern if it is something that can be prevented in the future, and then remind yourself of your goals and what you are working towards. If you are continually failing in self-discipline then maybe it is time to re-evaluate your goals to make sure they truly line up with what you want for yourself.
5. Use your successes as motivation.
Give yourself frequent pats on the back and the next time you feel unmotivated, remember how good it felt to win. Shift your focus to the process rather than the end goal. For example, if your goal is to run in a 20km marathon in six months then your plans might begin with running 2km five times a week for the first weeks and then gradually increasing it until running 20km is well within reach. Be pleased with the 2km, knowing the goal is 20km.
6. Remember that we don’t have full control over our life.
We live in a broken world where sickness, strife and disappointment are often the norm. Things happen outside of our control. I’m not mentioning this to discourage you from your goals but when you are setting them, it is important to remember that only God is in full control of what happens. Proverbs 16:3 says “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans” and verse 9 follows with, “In their hearts, humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” Committing our plans to God is the first sensible step in any goal-setting.
I hope you enjoy these school holidays. It could be the perfect time to begin to apply a little more self-discipline in your life and set goals that will bring you happiness and success.
Mike Curtis, Principal