Top 7 Ways to Build Your Discipline Muscle
By Sue Brenner, PCC, PMP
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What things in your life do you want to accomplish but you just don’t will yourself to do? Get a new job? Lose weight? Apply for that promotion? Do you turn to immediate, pleasurable activities but end up putting off what you really want? Does answering email, surfing the net or putting another kettle of hot water on in the break room suddenly peak your interest more than following up with a client on a big deal?
Successful people apply self-discipline to their lives and their work. The ability to delay gratification and focus on what really matters leads to big rewards in life. Learning to build discipline will bring greater, more sustainable happiness without the ups and downs of immediate gratification.
The good news: build discipline in any area of your life and reap the positive rewards in other areas. Choose one of these examples below and apply it to your life today.
- Go the distance.
Park your car farther away from your destination. At work, choose the spot farthest away, not the spot by the front door. This will help you overcome physical resistance. This will build your self-discipline by having you choose the more challenging route, not just the quick-fix solution of getting from point A to point B as fast as possible. Making things a little harder on yourself in simple areas will develop your ability to do things even when there’s something much easier or exciting before you, such as a quick walk rather than the “trek” across the parking lot.
- Face it.
Your boss has sent you an urgent e-mail: “In my office. Now!” You look at it, shut your office door, and busy yourself with talking to your best friend on your cell phone. Stop yourself. Realize you are trying to avoid the inevitable. Take a deep breath. Exit your office. Meet with your boss. Face what you fear. Develop the self-discipline to face unpleasant interactions. Don’t hide out. Obviously, your boss can—and will—find you, which can worsen the situation.
- Get healthy.
You know you need to exercise and you want to eat healthier. Usually you grab a hamburger and fries and eat it at your desk for lunch. Today you have a 30-minute lunch break. You want nothing more than to get an ice mocha at the corner coffee shop and veg out at your desk. Instead, grab the carrot and the bagel you packed for yourself. Head out for a brisk walk.
How many cups of coffee do you drink a day? Reduce your intake by one cup per day. For example, if you normally drink three cups, drink only two today. Or drink decaf instead of caffeinated coffee for one week.
- Think before you speak.
Sometimes you may find yourself blurting things out without thinking. For example, Simon, a passionate manager, found himself blurting things out at executive meetings to his own detriment. This behavior prevented him from getting a promotion. Before speaking, stop yourself. Ask: What do I want to say? If you just want to stir things up, consider whether you really want to do that or not. Discipline yourself to speak wisely.
- Make a commitment.
Say your commitment out loud. Write it down. Then follow through with it! Start with something small. Then get to action and make it happen. Keeping your word is a great way to build self-discipline and a good reputation.
- Stick to a leave-the-office time.
What time do you want to leave? Pick a reasonable time, then stick to it. Say you pick 5:30 pm. Get focused and productive during your day. When you get side-tracked, remember your leave-the-office goal and get back on track.
Sue Brenner, Performance Coach and author, wants you to get the most out of life and work. Thats why she wrote The Naked Desk: Everything you need to strip away clutter, save time and get things done - http://x.actionsymphony.com. While youre there, get her free eZine, Ignite Your Life.
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Article Submitted On: March 20, 2007