Ironic. That’s how I would describe the fact that the second post of my self-discipline series almost didn’t get published. I sat down to write earlier, but nothing was flowing, and the day nearly passed me by before I realized I hadn’t published anything. That is essentially how our goals get away from us. We start something, fall short, and never cycle back. Well, until now.
The road to self-discipline, like all other roads in life, isn’t a walk in the park. At the same time, the process of sticking to our goals doesn’t have to be as unpromising as people make it. I’ve found three key elements to setting goals that have improved my self-discipline:
1. The Holistic Approach: I’ve grown to focus on alignment over the past couple of years especially when I saw the correlation between my personal, spiritual, and business growth. For that reason, when I think about the new year, I set goals in every category of my life: financial, spiritual, physical, professional, and personal. In an interview, the authors of The Wait talked about how disciplining yourself in one area often strengthens your ability to handle other parts of your life. Over time, you start to see your life align as you become the person needed for the next level.
Tip: Make a plan for how you will commit to these goals on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to keep it realistic and implementable.
2. A Protected Sacrifice: The abridged audio of Think and Grow Rich says that we must write out our goal with a deadline, a plan, and what we will sacrifice to achieve the goal. While it’s easy to get caught up in the bliss of how we’ll feel in the end, we also need to be grounded in what kept us from reaching this goal before. That obstacle is where the sacrifice lies and while “sacrifice” isn’t a pretty word to think about, it’s an effective item to plan for ahead of time.
My first-year teaching part time, I barely wrote consistently because I didn’t make the time. After reflecting on the year, I established a particular day for blogging. During this time, I would decline all other tasks and requests until my blog was complete. I carved out time in my week and committed myself to protecting it. I had to sacrifice the freedom of Mondays and discipline myself to a writing schedule. Sacrifices are necessary to consider, and they only work when they are realistically set and respected.
3. Accountability & Forgiveness: The journey is almost always better when someone is along for the ride, but there are plenty of endeavors I prefer to do alone. This is why accountability is two-fold. On one hand, you need a way to keep yourself on track. I use a self-care tracker to evaluate my hits and misses on a weekly and monthly basis, so I can make the necessary adjustments. I also have people- sister circles, writing groups, workout chats, financial advisors- who hold me accountable for hitting certain benchmarks.
Accountability comes into play when our goals exist outside of our head: written out in a visible place, posted, or shared with a friend. This helps in the long run when your excitement for the goal is long gone, or when life gets in the way. Sometimes you may need a week off, or have to focus on other things, but when that is over, get back to it. Be gentle with yourself, but stick to it! After all, I stuck to completing this blog before the day was out.