It’s no secret that if you want to make a change, focus and self-discipline is the name of the game.
However, many of us struggle with staying disciplined on the daily, especially when we start to lose motivation. This time around the New Year always brings up themes of change, goals, and persistence, so we wanted to share some of the amazingly valuable tips on how to stay disciplined so that you can finally achieve your goals.
1. Know Your Limitations
We all have weaknesses. Call it a fact of being human! Whether it’s a tendency to procrastinate, a habit of binging on junk food, alcohol, fear of commitment, etc … whatever it is, it’s extremely important that you identify your weaknesses clearly.
In our new Rebirth Program, we call this “accepting your reality.” We know it’s extremely uncomfortable to look at our weaknesses head on and identify them, but it is absolutely crucial if you want to make progress. An analogy we like to give is that of a map: say you want to get from Point A to Point B. How are you going to know the most efficient route (or any route at all) if you don’t identify Point A (where you are now)?
Knowing our weaknesses gives us a path forward from where we are, and also acts as a buffer against allowing those weaknesses to interfere with our progress. For instance, if you’re fully aware that, say, one of your “weaknesses” is not following through on commitments. You’re excited at the beginning, but then as the excitement wears off, you do less and less and end up not seeing results.
Once you identify this tendency, instead of avoiding it, you can spot it when you start to feel it. You can say “Hey, I know what this is. I’m doing that thing again … and this time, I’m not going to give into it, because I know having self-discipline is in my best interest.”
Once you know something about yourself that’s limiting you, it becomes more difficult to fully give in to it.
2. Have An Execution Plan
Without a clear path towards your goal, it becomes difficult and frustrating to continue. A common pitfall (especially with New Year’s resolutions) is making goals too vague AND not creating clear mini-goals and a clear path.
For example: “I want to start going to the gym to lose weight” or “I want to tone up” are vague goals. There’s nothing wrong with them, but they offer no concrete goal marker of path forward.
A more clear goal with an execution plan would be “I am committed to working out X days per week for X amount of time. I will prep food for X amount of days every week, and leave room for one ‘cheat’ meal.”
Doesn’t that feel better? It’s like having a roadmap vs. wandering in the wilderness and hoping to reach your destination!
3. Remove Distractions And Temptations
This one is a biggie. We’re all aware that life gets in the way of even our most well-laid plans; however, you want to do your best to minimize anything that triggers your weaknesses (this is another reason why it’s so important to identify them).
This can look like removing all junk food from the house, rearranging daily tasks to make sure you have time to complete daily goals, and even avoiding negative people that reinforce your weaknesses. That last one sounds harsh, but sometimes, even the most well-meaning friends and family can cause us to slide back into old habits. Explain to them your goals, and if they are not supportive, put a limit on time spent with them.
4. Know This One Thing
This is extremely important and something most people don’t realize:
You will never be 100% motivated 100% of the time.
There is a reason motivation is not called discipline and vice versa. They are not the same.
Often, say at the start of a New Year, we’re extremely motivated. We’re excited to start something new. We’re ready. However, once daily life resumes, we often find we’re not motivated all of the time. Many days we’re excited about our transformation, but on others, we really just don’t feel like sticking to our new habit.
Even we have days like this, where working out or filming a video is just the last thing we want to do – this is where self-discipline comes out to play.
Once you recognize and accept that “Hey, I’m not going to be motivated 24/7, but even when I’m not, I made this promise to myself to keep going and do it anyway.” Remember: you are in control of you.
5. Layer In New Habits
This is another concept we often talk about (check our latest podcast for more): layering in new habits over old habits, or “habit stacking.” This has powerful benefits due to specific neuron connections in our brains. You see, when we develop a habit or do something over and over again, everyday, our brain strengthens a specific neural circuit that makes it easier to do that thing.
So, for instance, say you’re a musician. When you first started playing, you didn’t have a well-defined neural network for what you were doing: you were a beginner, and as such, learning was more difficult.
However, after years of practice, you have strengthened this neural circuit, and now the song you played when you were a beginner seems like a piece of cake to play now. You simply pick up the instrument and your brain taps into the circuit.
Now, when it comes to habit stacking, a term coined by James Clear in Atomic Habits (awesome read, by the way), the reason you want to stack a new habit on top of your established habits is because this integrates the new habit into the already develop circuit.
By linking new habits with old habits, you’ll find it easier to stick to them!
Here are some examples:
“After I have my morning cup of coffee, I will journal for 10 minutes.”
“After I take off my work shoes, I will immediately change into my workout clothes.”
And so on. While you’re creating your execution plan, it’s helpful to figure out which habits you’re going to link up!.