Achieving Your Goals Through Self-Discipline
By Joe Love
Most of us look forward to talking with old friends and hearing the progress they’ve made in their personal and professional lives. While we’re happy to hear about their accomplishments, we often use those achievements as a yardstick for measuring our own success in attaining goals.
If one of these encounters leaves you with feelings of regret or lack of accomplishment, maybe it’s time to take a second look at why you gave up on your New Year’s Day resolution to exercise regularly, or didn’t get the promotion you were up for. Frequently, our disappointments stem from a common denominator; a lack of self-discipline.
Through the quiet power of self-discipline, even the most challenging goals become attainable, but even the most disciplined person needs to establish a set of goals before that reserve of willpower can be put to good use. You must make a detailed plan with realistic deadlines and stick to them.
Your goals must be realistic because if you have unreasonable expectations of what you can accomplish, you’ll create stress and anxiety that will get in the way of everything you do. For example, it’s virtually impossible to lose 10 pounds in one week and remain healthy.
If you’re going to achieve a goal you must develop the ability to clearly focus on your goal. We’re often distracted by the amount of time and effort required to achieve the end result. Rewards for our efforts, monetary or otherwise, seldom come quickly. This is why you must develop the self-discipline to stick with your plan until you achieve your goal
One of the best ways to combat the mental fatigue of that often comes with goal achievement is to set up a number of short-term goals. It’s usually easier to take several small steps than it is to take one giant leap.
Lapses in concentration are not uncommon when you’re working toward a long-range goal. For example, even if you didn’t get the promotion this time, conscientious and diligent work will not go unnoticed for long. Or in the case of a dieter, one large pizza with everything on it today does not undo two weeks of careful eating.
Perhaps the most critical part of goal achievement is “future thinking.” This is the ability to always be able to look past the moment of temptation or disappointment to the following day and week. When you are able to keep you sights on the long-term goal it makes the momentary sacrifice seem insignificant.
Using your imagination to visualize what you want is another important way to develop the self-discipline you need for goal achievement. The key to visualization is to make it as vivid and specific as you possibly can. You need to have a clear vision of how your life will look and feel once you’ve achieved your goal.
When you learn to discipline your imagination to clearly picture how different your life will be once you’ve achieved your goal previously intangible goals will begin to take shape. For example, seeing, feeling and experiencing that vacation in your mind will spark the willpower to put in those long hours at the office.
Perhaps the most important aspect of using self-discipline to attain goals is developing a strong self-image. A strong self-image goes a long way in helping you succeed in all aspects of your life. When you have a strong belief in yourself any obstacle or temptation can be overcome in the pursuit of your goals.
Taking responsibility for your life and your actions is a vital element in developing self-discipline. By realizing that you are in control of your life, you can find your own direction and develop a set of personal goals. That’s when you begin building the foundation of self-confidence that you must have if you’re going to achieve your goals. You can control your own behavior, but you first have to believe that you can.
Refusing to acknowledge personal responsibility for your own life creates a major roadblock to goal achievement. If you’re consistently passing blame on to others, such as family members, friends, or co-workers, you’re simply masking the lack of discipline that accounts for failure. The solution is to refuse to accept excuses for your own failures, and to work diligently to change your bad habits.
Of course, some situations will always arise that are beyond your control. Blaming yourself for unforeseen events won’t change the outcome, so it’s important to know when to let yourself off the hook. When unforeseen events do occur, you should distance yourself from the problem and focus blame on the external circumstances that created the difficulties. Don’t blame yourself for lacking the intelligence or competence. Take responsibility for only those problems for which you personally can control.
If you’re patient and diligent in applying self-discipline to your daily routine, you will achieve any realistic goal that you set for yourself. Maintain a clear focus on what you want to achieve, and imagine yourself having achieved your goal. Never allow yourself to be deterred by the difficulties that inevitably arise along the way.
When you develop an unwavering sense of self-confidence and plenty of willpower, your realistic goals, both short and long-term, will always be within your reach.