It's important to set goals. Setting goals gives us a target, something to reach for physical, mentally and emotionally. However, it's only part of the equation to success.
While setting goals is motivating. Reaching them is rewarding, and that requires action. Without action, distraction and temptation set in to dampen our determination, seemingly pushing our goals further and further away.
If you find yourself consistently sidelined before realising your goals, it's time to examine your store of will power and self-discipline.
Self-discipline is a superpower that exercises our willpower and one of the most important life skills that any of us can develop. This empowering discipline contributes to personal happiness and has even proven to be a better predictor of academic achievement than a person's IQ.
Once developed, self-discipline becomes the driving force behind the success we experience in all our endeavours.
On the other hand, lack of self-discipline is dangerous and subjects our lives to distraction, procrastination, clutter and general overwhelm. In this type of chaotic environment, health issues, financial problems, relationship challenges and other personal issues eventually surface.
Healthy self-discipline screams mental strength, so, developing more of it is no different than developing strength and control in our other muscles. It must be exercised through regular workouts.
And that takes getting out of our comfort zone. We must stop running from the supposed "hard" uncomfortable situations that life presents us and begin viewing them as challenges. It's by pushing through discomfort a little at a time that our superpowers of self-discipline expand, develop and grow.
By exerting force, we create force.
Tips to boost your own reserves of self-discipline
• Start small and build: You can't tackle huge problems all at once and trying to do so will likely intimidate and scare you away. Live in the moment, break large projects into smaller tasks and focus on whatever small actions you can take. Tackling things one small action, one small accomplishment at a time helps build your self-discipline muscle, while trying to take on too much at once leads to frustration and defeat.
Carolyn Hansen: Take charge of your health and wellbeing
• Make a list: You can't accomplish what you are not aware of. Begin your day with a list of tasks that need accomplishing. Making a visual list brings them to your conscious attention. Then do them one by one, crossing them off as you go. Each one you cross through, gives your self-discipline muscle a sweet boost. As a bonus, your self-confidence rises at the same time!
• Exercise consistently: Not surprisingly, the amount of activity our bodies get plays a role in our mental strength as well. It turns out that exercising doesn't just build physical muscles, it builds mental muscles of self-control and self-discipline. It is a powerful key towards developing more of these closely related, superpowers.
These are not dead claims, but are backed up by research. One study that focused on self-control/self-discipline offered participants free gym memberships that included individually tailored exercise programmes built around free weights and resistance training as well as cardio activity.
After two months of participating, tests revealed that the lives of those participating improved across the board, not just in physical strength. Mental strength improved, emotional and impulsive outbursts lessened, and bad habits began to lose favour and fall away. Participants were naturally drawn to healthier foods, developed strong study habits, and procrastination became a thing of the past.
Living a life led by self-discipline is not easy. But, if it was, there would be no reward worth gaining. The rewards for self-discipline are freedom. Self-disciplined people are not dictated and controlled by destiny. They control their own future through proactive, disciplined choices.
Discipline is empowering, and self-discipline is the force that gets us to our destination through persistent, consistent, conscious action.
Every moment affords us the opportunity to engage and empower ourselves with self-discipline or give in to distraction and defeat. Every single temptation, every single distraction that we avoid and overcome improves our ability to overcome the next one. It's a self-perpetuating force that feeds itself once we get the ball rolling.
• Carolyn Hansen is co-owner of Anytime Fitness.