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  • Writer's pictureKristi Ryan

Self-Discipline: How to Keep Yourself on Track When Making Changes in Your Life

Discipline can sound like such a harsh word as it usually carries quite a negative connotation. Maybe you equate discipline with being punished or having limited freedoms. You may see self-discipline as being boring and living with limitations. You may feel if you practice self-discipline, you will never get to do anything fun ever again.

But self-discipline is extremely foundational in eliciting growth and life-long change. It is an integral part of the transformation process and necessary in order to eliminate old habits and make new habits stick.

Self-discipline allows you to realize greater reward for your hard work in the long run. And it's so worth it once you recognize you have accomplished what you have set out to do. Ultimately it grants you freedom and empowerment in your life as well as the ability to keep growing in the same way.

Transformation is not easy. Especially when you are trying to break old habits and patterns that you have been forming for yourself, mostly subconsciously, over your lifetime. Habits are fixed into your mindset and beliefs. Until you change a fixed mindset and limiting beliefs, it is very unlikely that you will be able to fully access permanent changes.

Working on this aspect of yourself and using self-discipline to change your behaviors is crucial if you really want to approach your health and live your life in a different way.

How to Make Self-Discipline a Part of Your Transformation

When you embark on a journey of transformation, it can be helpful to first understand the process that you will need to go through. Step one is realizing that there is something that you want to change, and it takes that first idea or desire to get the ball rolling. Then you make that idea more concrete by visualizing your goals and your future self, maybe writing about it and perhaps telling somebody about it.

Once you have realized and visualized this change, then you start making a plan and coming up with a strategy to accomplish your goals. Using your plan, you start acquiring knowledge and information and learning the new skills that will start moving you in the right direction.

Putting your new skills and knowledge into action is the next step to solidifying what you have learned and further moving you closer to your desired transformation. When you establish your new skills with action over and over you will achieve habit change and growth. After about 90 days of consistently applying the self-discipline of your new habits to your life you will have achieved successful transformation.

Each of these steps to transformation requires focus and awareness by you managing yourself and your choices. This is self-discipline. It is the little voice in your head that is keeping your best interests in mind. It is the counterbalance to that other little voice in your head that says "I know I should (or shouldn't) do this or that 'unhealthy thing' but... okay, just this one time. I'll do the 'right' thing later". That voice is the enemy of your self-discipline voice. It's enticing because it appeals to your short-sighted, instant gratification side of you that isn't programmed to think about your health and your future. But you have probably exercised it so much over your lifetime that it has become stronger than your self-discipline voice. It overpowers the self-discipline voice that you haven't exercised as much.

It's not your fault. It goes back to the unconscious conditioning of your subconscious mind. This is all biological as the neurological pathways in your brain have been established over time with very powerful connections that become extremely difficult to change. It becomes more and more difficult to break bad habits, especially those that involve your diet and lifestyle. They are so ingrained that they leave little wiggle room when it comes to growth and transformation. It's not easy to make these kinds of changes but it can be done if approached in a systematic and disciplined manner.

This is where mindfulness and awareness come in to play in order for you to be able to consciously enact and pay attention to your self-discipline voice. It can be a process that takes many tries and lots of practice to actually make real, long-lasting changes.

Self-discipline builds the foundation of your transformation allowing you to recognize the options as well as the outcomes of your choices while eventually overriding those subconscious pathways that were established long ago.

Here are a few tips that can be helpful in supporting your self-discipline:

  1. Sit down with a pen and paper in a quiet place, take a few deep breaths with your eyes closed and then brainstorm any changes you would like to make in your life. Where do you see yourself in a year from now? Be specific. Choose your top 3 most important changes that you want to work toward and come up with your reasons WHY you want to make the changes. Use your most important and biggest WHY as your motivation when working towards making your changes and accomplishing your goals.

  2. Think about the changes that you would like to make and then find or make up your own affirmations that support you to stay on track. Post them where you will see them regularly and repeat them to yourself several times daily. Make sure to really feel and mean your affirmations are you saying them. This changes your energy and focus putting you in a space to receive what you put out into the universe especially when you truly, deeply feel what you are saying.

  3. Find somebody who you see as a guide, a muse or your 'hero' to give you motivation when you feel like your self-discipline is fading. Maybe somebody who has accomplished 'the impossible', your favorite motivational speaker or maybe an author or character that you connect with.

  4. Create a vision board with your goals, your affirmations, and your WHY and put it somewhere that you can see especially when you are feeling weak, and your self-discipline is waning.

  5. Reverse engineer your goals to break them down into smaller steps that will ultimately get you to where you desire to be. And then come up with a weekly plan that you schedule in advance. Cross off the items when you accomplish them to give you a sense of completion and keep you on track. This can be way more manageable. You are more likely to keep following your long-term plan when you are seeing progress over the short-term.

I hope these tips help you create a self-discipline practice if you are trying to stay on track to accomplish goals and make a transformation. Put them to use and see what kind of changes you can see in your life!


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