Of all the necessary ingredients for success- perseverance, strength, imagination, relationships- perhaps the most important is discipline.
This means to go through with what you say or think regardless of whether you want to or not. Without discipline, savings, wanting to losing weight, wanting to quit smoking, doing exercise- whatever goal you have, becomes more difficult and at times impossible.
To develop discipline in your life, it’s recommended to have in mind and follow these 7 steps:
1. Establish the Goal
Establish, write down all the areas in your life that require discipline, like diets, finances, relationships, etc. What are the consequences of a lack of discipline: overweight, health problems, economic problems, family conflicts, etc. Think about how this affects your life, robbing you of your happiness and mental state. Now visualize how your life would be without all these problems.
2. Write it Down
Write down what steps you must take in order to have discipline in this area. For example, “I should create a budget of all my monthly expenses and take a day of the week to pay my payments and fix my checking account.”
3. Create Your Plan
Create your “plan of action.” This consists of step by step on how to actualize this area of your life from now on. It’s important to not go overboard at the beginning; be realistic. If by now you can’t exercise more than once a month, then don’t propose to do one hour of aerobics every day. Your goals should be accessible and reachable so that you can go forward with them. Discipline is like a muscle you should exercise day by day so your mind and body will stay strong.
4. Control Addictions
Learn to control the addiction towards instant gratification, which is the enemy of discipline. “It’s too early, I’ll start the diet tomorrow,”… “one little snack won’t ruin my diet,” “This offer is way too good to let pass,” “I’ll start exercising next month.” All these excuses ruin your resolution and drive you farther from your goal.
5. Follow the Plan
Follow your plan for 48 days straight, which is the amount of time it takes to set a habit, according to experts. If you fail before the first four weeks, don’t worry, start over. Remember you are working to create and fortify a habit.
6. Be Positive
Listen only to the positive voice inside your head. If you were never able to keep up that diet or stick to your plan, then maybe there was a negative voice inside that always brought you down or made you believe that failure is inevitable. Recognize that voice is only a negative thought in your mind trying to discourage you and take you back to your comfort zone.
7. Keep Track
Write in a journal where you track your progress. It is important that you see any deviation from your plans as an area of opportunity that requires attention, not as a defeat. If you eat a sweet, it doesn’t mean that your diet is ruined forever; accept the failure and start your plan over again. Like the Japanese say, “If you fall seven times, stand eight.” At the end of the day, discipline is nothing but consistency.