“There is one quality which one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants, and a burning desire to possess it.” ~ Napoleon Hill
Self-Discipline isn’t about self-denial. If you think it is, that’s why it’s not working for you. Self-Discipline isn’t about trying to force yourself to behave according to some arbitrary list of Shoulds and Oughts. It’s certainly not about killing your desire.
On the contrary, it’s about connecting more viscerally and consistently to your desire. I’m not talking about junk food or video games here; those are just surface urges that come and go like the wind. I talking about the things you really deeply desire for your life and those you love.
Self-Discipline is simply the regular practice of choosing what you want most over what you want right now.
The key to making it work? Getting really clear on what you want most ~ for yourself, for your life, for your relationships ~ and keeping that in front of you every day.
So here’s a 3-step process to build more self-discipline into your life.
1. Grab a journal, or just some paper and a pen, and for each area of the Wheel of Life, write your answers to the questions below.
- What kind of person do you most want to be in this area of your life? How would you describe him/her?
- How do you most want to respond when things go wrong in this area, or something ticks you off?
- What do you most want others to say about you when they observe you engaging with this area of your life?
- What do you most want to change about this area of your life?
- What’s one thing you would have to begin doing regularly for that change to happen?
2. Based on your responses, craft a list of one regular action you can begin to take in each of the areas of the Wheel that will move you toward creating what you most desire for that area of your life.
3. Once you have the list of actions, choose only one action from one section of the wheel (this is important!), and commit to putting it into practice. Do not add a second action until the first action has become automatic.
For example: If one of your deep desires is to deepen your relationship with your spouse, and your action step is to touch them and say you love them at least once every day, then make that your only assignment until it becomes so automatic you no longer have to think about it. Then (and only then!) move on to tackle another regular action from your list.
This is the way authentic change happens. We get connected to something we really desire, not out of self-loathing or fear, but out of self-love and love for others. Then we make one change. And once it sticks, we make one more. Before you know it, your entire life looks radically different, and immeasurably better, than you ever thought it could.
(By the way, if you’re trying to make some big changes in your life, and you’d like a little help, drop me a line. I’d love to talk!)