The 3 Tips I Use to Stay Disciplined

If the life I dream about was simply based on how intricately I could daydream, then I’d be living large right now. Unfortunately, dreams are only the first step. Once that seed is planted in your head then comes the sowing, tilling, bleeding and sweating to get it. The hustle attached to manifesting your dreams is definitely in the fine print; it’s the thing you don’t think about when you’re basking in the glory of what’s not even yours yet.

I have a confession. It is that sometimes, despite my best efforts or intentions, I fall victim to the high of motivation and allow that to be my fuel even though I know consistency is what it takes to win. Discipline works when you don’t want to and it’s the one thing I struggle to conjure up sometimes. My lack of discipline is to blame for the post-its on my wall that spell out goals I haven’t even begun to reach. It’s why I’ve moved into a brand new place with the same to-do list I had three months ago when I started the apartment search.

How to Be More Disciplined

Until you get a grip on the grunt work that needs to happen day-in and day-out, you’ll never reach your goals. I’m learning this the hard way, or perhaps I should say, the disappointing way, as I reorganize and realize how far behind schedule I am. Your plans and processes don’t mean anything if you don’t have the discipline to do the work. Plans are your how, not your what. Your what unfolds every time you take a step that’s necessary but not glamorous.


Until you get a grip on the grunt work that needs to happen day-in and day-out, you’ll never reach your goals.

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The number one downfall to success is using motivation as fuel. It’s great to have something pushing you, but I’ve learned that my motivation is heavily attached to my mood; It requires optimal conditions in order to produce results.

And what do we know about life? Optimal is a fallacy. So, in the currency of dreams, discipline is worth millions.


In the currency of dreams, discipline is worth millions. 

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There are three things I’ve been doing to push myself into being more disciplined: 

Plan

The cold hard truth is that it takes more than desire and good intentions to break old habits. It’s the reason why I still have not made it to anyone’s gym or Pilates class despite doing it many times in my head. I need a solid plan to follow and so do you. Plan out your schedule for the week. Plan your meals. Plan your outfits. Make decisions ahead of time so that you have no choice as you start each day. In real-time your feelings start doing the talking and that leaves room to back out of your responsibilities. When I have the week’s meals cooked already, take-out starts to feel less and less justifiable. Against a solid plan, your excuses look pathetic.


Against a solid plan, your excuses look pathetic.

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READ: Make Your Schedule Your Sidekick

Practice

As an avid planner, sometimes I’ll map things out just because I enjoy the process of doing so. However, plans don’t become habits unless you start executing them. And to do that, it’ll take lots of try and try-agains. Once you have your plan together you actually have to execute. More than that, you should be looking to tweak things until you find the right fit. The fewer obstacles you have in front of you the better.

A few months ago I decided (at the advice of many articles) that I would become an early riser...like 4 am early. And you know what? That didn’t really work out for me. I wanted it to, but even with an earlier bedtime, waking up that early just made for a grumpy, less productive Ash. When you have a plan in place, you have to mold it to fit what works best. The only way to do that is through a little practice.

Push

Even with the first two tips, mentally, you’re going to have to push yourself when those moments of I-don’t-feel-like-it become overbearing. Truthfully, that’s what discipline is. It’s your ability to do it anyway. I recently read somewhere that it’s our minds that give up way before our bodies during exercise. The same applies to discipline outside of workouts. We look for cop-outs across all aspects of our lives because allowing our emotions to take a back seat is not fun. At all.


Discipline is your ability to do it anyway. 

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The push is where the stretching comes. Maybe the first few times you set out, you won’t be able to replace Monday night Love and Hip-Hop with meditation (the Lord is still working on me), but as you do it each time it will get easier. The more you work a muscle the stronger it becomes, so push yourself.

There are a million bloggers, Youtubers, brand strategists, [insert what you want to be] out there. In the era of the self-starter, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to provide value that sets you apart. Surprisingly, it’s not your skillset that shoots you to the top, but your work ethic. If you can learn how to produce quality results regardless of your mood, then you’ve mastered the art of discipline and introduced a game changer into your life. And in the land of instant gratification that is definitely enough to get you where you’re going.

What are some things you do to keep going when your motivation runs low? Share in the comments below.