I am a firm believer in motivation being a complete lie. Okay so it’s not a lie so much at it is fleeting, and therefore totally unreliable. It will never be the sole reason you achieve your goals. In fact, the only thing that will truly get you closer to your goals is self discipline.
Success comes when you consistently do the things you don’t want to do or don’t feel like doing because you are disciplined enough to do them. When you focus on doing the hard, boring, tedious things in life even when the initial excitement and motivation has worn off, you will build the discipline needed to achieve your goals.
That might sound easier said than done. Especially because self discipline does not come naturally to a lot of people. And we are sold on the idea of motivation being the main factor of success. PLUS we live in a society that values instant gratification, so when things take a little longer than we expected and the motivation disappears it is tempting to want to give up.
This post is all about improving self discipline to achieve your goals
These 4 steps I am going to give you will help you stay committed to your goals even after motivation disappears. Commit to implementing these into your routine and you will see results much faster than relying only on motivation to get you there.
How To Build Self Discipline
Step 1: Start with small habits
The first step in building belief in yourself is actually doing the things you say you are going to do. In order to do that, you need to start small. You can’t go from Netflix binging couch potato to marathon runner in 5 seconds. With any sort of change you are making in life, you need to start small and gradually build your way to the big things.
If you are here, you have likely fallen victim to breaking promises to yourself. So you need to start building that trust back up. You will need to start with something small that you know you will do no matter what. For example, you brush your teeth every single day (hopefully). So while you are walking into the bathroom to brush your teeth, say “I am going to brush my teeth.” Tell yourself you are doing that thing each time you are on your way to do it.
I know that probably seems silly because ~duh~ you are going to brush your teeth. BUT, you will start to build belief that you can do the things you say you will do because you are doing it already!
Step 2: Increase the stakes
Now that you have started to build some belief in yourself, you need to increase the stakes a little. Because obviously you already had the habit of brushing your teeth. Decide on something that has a little more risk of you not doing it. Maybe you want to make your bed every morning, but currently only manage to do it twice a week.
You want to find ways to make it nearly impossible for you not to complete the task you are trying to do. For the bed making example, as soon as you wake up you can tell yourself “I am going to make my bed.” Then, as soon as you throw the covers off and roll out of bed, turn around and make it right there.
This prevents you from walking away and forgetting about it and therefore subconsciously supporting the thought that you can’t trust yourself. Instead, identify the habit you are trying to implement and create an exact breakdown of everything it includes and what it will take for you to get there.
Step 3: Add more risk
After you have consistently done the previous habit for at least two weeks, you are ready to add more risk. All along your actions have been proving that you can do the things you tell yourself you will do. So now it’s time to up the anti a little more.
This next habit should be something that you may not already do at all, but that you can easily implement into your current routine. An example could be going to the library to study. To make this new habit easier on yourself, you would need to schedule your library time for a time that you are normally on campus (like right after a class).
Again, right after you get out of class, tell yourself “I am going to the library to study,” then do it! This will further show you that you can do the things you say you will do. Notice how the library was scheduled for a time that you were already on campus. This eliminates some of the risk of you having to drive to the library and leave the comfort of your home.
Step 4: Go for the gold
This is what we have been training for. After you have successfully completed step 3 for a few weeks and feel confident in your ability to complete that habit, even if you don’t have the motivation, you are ready to move on.
Finally, add the biggest thing that you have been telling yourself you’ve been wanting to do but always chicken out of or let yourself down (for me it was consistently going to the gym). Once you have built the belief in yourself while doing the small things, it will be easier for you to do the bigger things.
Again, you will want to create a plan of action. For something like working out, you want to consider how often you will do it and what you will do during your workout. Then you can schedule it on your calendar.
Bonus: Celebrate your success
As you move along in the process of building self discipline, you should celebrate your success. Notice the feelings of pride and happiness you feel when you accomplish what you set out to do. This is the fun part of the process! No matter how small the win, it deserves to be celebrated. You are over here changing your life and that is huge!
This post shared 4 steps on how to build self discipline
Once you have built the habits you’ve been working toward, you will see that you can trust in yourself. It is a journey to get to this point and I don’t want you to get discouraged.
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