When it comes to maintaining discipline, for example, to keep a New Year’s Resolution, the key to doing that is both simple, and difficult to master. The key to maintaining discipline, I find, is to develop habits that you can keep consistently, and that will help you reach your broader goals. Here are ten that I think will help you become a more disciplined person.
Develop a Routine
First and foremost, get a good routine going. Keeping in mind all of your work, social, and other responsibilities, write down a schedule that will let you attend to all of those important parts of your life, and that allows you to get adequate rest. This routine is the backbone of what will help you accomplish your goals, whether long-term or short.
Make Your Bed
I like habits that give me a little victory, and ones that improve my quality of life. That’s why I make my bed every single day, even if it’s a day I’m spending totally at home. Developing the habit of making your bed is the first thing that gives me that first victory of the day with just a few minutes’ work. Then, at the end of a long day, I get to come home to a nicely made bed, which is a much-appreciated perk after hours of teaching, reading, and writing.
For a lot of people, losing weight is one of their major goals. Even if it’s not, food is the fuel that keeps you going, and it’s a lot easier to maintain focus on the things that matter to you when you’re well-fed and feeling good. With a little planning ahead, eating healthy can also be done in ways that both save money and free up your time. Meal prep and planning your shopping trips will free up your weeknights for relaxation.
With anything that’s worth doing building tools to help you do it is key. For me, that means getting organized in terms of planning out my days in a way that I can fit in time for all of the goals that matter to me. Simply setting the goals is an important step, but getting organized to accomplish those goals, on a daily basis, is a vital tool to making progress. This is especially true for long-term projects that might take weeks, months, or years. Getting organized early on is the framework for success.
Each of us only gets 24 hours a day. In that, you should probably sleep 8 of them, you do need to eat, and if you don’t relax it’s only a matter of time before you burn out and quit on things that are important to you. With that said, it’s vital to make priorities that make your life a little more doable on a daily basis. On any given day, I recommend making a short list of things that you must get done to keep the ball rolling on important goals, and then make some time for yourself, even if you can’t do it all, every day.
Keeping in mind my thinking on priorities, it’s hard for people these days to set time aside that has nothing to do with work or our various side hustles and responsibilities. I think it’s vital to purposely dedicate some time to doing whatever you like, and shutting out all distractions that you can. Specifically, making use of the ability to temporarily snooze email applications can be a great way to start carving out time to spend on yourself, with loved ones, or simply not thinking about work at all.
As I’ve written about in other articles here, one of the things that will keep you disciplined over time is to have a purpose beyond an immediate, day-to-day grind is key to keeping you going when things get tough. I think that having a positive purpose, a goal you want to reach, and making measurable goals to those ends will make it a lot easier to keep at other disciplined habits. This is especially the case for things like fitness and working out, which come with their fair share of challenges including soreness and pain along the way.
As you pursue your goals, it’s important to take some time, on a regular basis, to reflect on how far you’ve come. It’s easy, for me at least, to get caught up in the work that still needs to be done and to lose sight of how much progress I’ve made toward some of my major life goals, such as finishing a doctorate. Thus, I’ve taken up the habit of taking a long walk on Thursday nights to decompress and think on everything I did for the week so that I don’t get anxious just seeing the mounting deadlines and such ahead of me.
In working towards any goal, it feels a little hopeless even if you’re extremely organized and disciplined. One thing that helps keep me on track is to make and track specific metrics that let you keep quantitative progress towards things that matter to you. In terms of fitness goals, for instance, a specific goal weight can be of some use here and making a chart of the progress over time can help you see that, at the very least, you’re making movements towards those goals. With that said, don’t be too hard on yourself on the weeks where there isn’t a lot of progress
Practice Self Care
At the end of the day, we have to remember that we’re just human beings. If we want to maintain discipline over time, that means taking care of ourselves, and each other, as people who deserve things like rest, good food, and free time by virtue of being human. Thus, make some time in your schedule to get what you need in order to maintain your health and happiness. It’s a lot easier to maintain discipline when you’ve been sleeping and eating well than it is to keep going on fumes.