Discipline to Achieve Your Goals
Two months into the year and the gyms are finally starting to clear out of all the well-intentioned resolutioners who are constantly starting at the gym and quitting after a short time. It’s not just at the gym, this is the time when people learning to code or a new language will start to fade. Pluralsight has gotten it’s subscription but the use will start to dwindle. Unread books will go on a shelf or into a pile of other unfinished books. This time of year is the chopping block for new year’s resolutions.
Discipline is the act of training someone to follow a set of rules or prescribed behaviors. Self discipline, what we’ll be referring to as discipline, is the “the ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptations to abandon it” according to the Oxford Dictionary. Discipline is what helps us to stay on task when we are tired, overworked, annoyed, or just plain bored.
Discipline is inconvenient, it’s not easy. It requires you to set your priorities and challenges the perspectives you have in life. Achieving big goals requires sacrifice. In order to get the things you want you will have to hold fast through a lot of difficulty. These are not all of the aspects of discipline but just the ones that are most important when looking to achieve your goals. Use the information to help improve your own discipline whether it be for a work, business, or even a personal goal.
As the year progresses we tend to be too busy just getting by to actually accomplish anything. If we aren’t careful things will slowly pile up and take over our time just maintaining and not actually moving foward. When setting goals it is easier to determine what we see as a priority, however as we start working toward those goals priorities shift or we get distracted by minutia along the way.
Prioritizing your goals involves determining what actions or steps are important in accomplishing those goals. Once determined urgency needs to be put into those actions so they get accomplished before the other things. Discipline in going after goals means maintaining the priorities we created when we set the goals. The steps it takes to reach those goals should be important and more urgent than other things.
Once you’ve set your goals as your priority, the next most important aspect of being disciplined in accomplishing them is the attitude you have toward the work involved in getting to the goal. Achieving your goals will take work, there is no other way to put it. You will have to put in effort to get what you want. Your attitude or perspective will influence how well you are able to maintain your discipline.
Depending on your age the term attitude adjuster could mean a really big stick or a really strong drink. You can set your attitude, it is not an uncontrolled emotional state but something that you can set. There is a difference between happiness and joyfulness. The root of the word happiness is hap which relates to chance or luck, it’s what is happening now that affects it. You don’t have to be happy in the moment to enjoy doing something because the joy you take in it is how you choose to respond to what is happening.
There are two types of people in the world the “get to” and the “have to”. The “get to” people look at everything from taking out the trash to speaking in front of a thousand people as something they get to do. The “have to” will look at any task no matter how glamorous or honored as something they have to do. How you perceive the work involved in attaining your goal will affect your discipline when times get tough or when you have to make difficult decisions.
Our culture is built around convenience, being inconvenienced or made uncomfortable is something we avoid. We have stores where we pay extra for the convenience of having our items delivered to us. We get frustrated when our food takes too long at a restaurant. We’ve built a society around comfort and avoiding being inconvenienced.
When ever you are pursuing something challenging or worthwhile it will not always be easy. If it were convenient and easy then it wouldn’t be a challenge. Inconvenience leads to “Hello World” experts, the fledgling developer who instead of pushing through the difficult times and being inconvenienced by it not all being easy decides to start over on a new language.
When you set out to achieve your goals, or when you reevaluate them, you have to ask yourself is this goal worth the inconvenience that will come with going after it. Ask yourself if you value the goal more than your own comfort. If it doesn’t then you should reevaluate that goal.
Sacrifice isn’t a word you often hear related to accomplishing goals, but it is something that is relevant. When you set out to achieve one thing you will have to step away or not do other things. Most times the sacrifice comes in the form or your own comfort and convenience. You have to sacrifice doing the easy fun things in order to challenge yourself to grow.
Other times you have to make hard decisions about how to spend your time or your money. You may have to forgo eating out with coworkers to save up to buy a house or not get the newest games when they come out. When you set your priorities for the goals you have you determined that they would be more important to you than the things you are sacrificing. That is up to a certain point, if you are giving too much it may be time to reevaluate your goals.
Just like losing perspective or letting other things pull us from our priorities we tend to become tired of the work, tired of the extra effort, or just tired in general when working toward our goals. This tiredness comes because we lose focus on what is important to us. When we stay focused on our goals and what is important then the extra work doesn’t seem as difficult.
When this tiredness comes, when we do lose our perspective, when we have trouble remembering the priorities and why they are important, this is when we need discipline the most. This is where being able to do what it takes to move toward our goals is most important. Perseverance is a consistency in our actions moving us toward our goals even when it is difficult, we are tired, we don’t see the point, or we want to just give up and play video games.
Where the discipline comes in, how we get perseverance, is through continuing to do the things we know will move that needle just a little bit forward toward the goal. Even if you can’t move it much or it doesn’t seem like it’s moving at all you are still doing what it takes.
Tricks of the Trade
You over-estimate what you can do in a year, a month, a week, or in a day. But you probably severely under-estimate what you can do in a decade. Remember this when you are considering the importance of your discipline – it’s a tool for the long haul.