We all have dreams.

But in order to make dreams come into reality,

it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication,

self-discipline, and effort.

Jesse Owens

Today I want to talk a little about strengthening your self-discipline. Discipline is the key for getting us from point A to point B. It takes us from where we are standing today to where we want to find ourselves tomorrow. Accomplishing the big goals in your life won’t occur by magical thinking or wishing. It will often mean that you have to do things that you don’t necessarily enjoy.

Discipline is basically the ability to get yourself to do the things you don’t really feel like doing.

Everyone lacks the necessary discipline from time to time. No one does all the things they need to do all the time. Then you feel bad about it. And beat yourself up and end up feeling even worse. Let’s see if we can break that cycle…

Here are 6 tips to help get and keep things under control:

1. Lighten up a little bit….

Feeling bad makes most people less capable, not more capable. Everyone slips at times. You just have to recognize that this is one of those times for you, pick yourself up and decide to move on and move forward.

Staying in that place of punishing yourself emotionally accomplishes nothing.

2. Focus on your motivation for the goal.

Know your “Why!” Why is this goal relevant to you? Use your imagination. Imagine how it will feel to accomplish it. Self-motivation is just about the only way to get yourself to do something you really don’t want to do. Ideally, you need to find a way, if possible, to make the activity easy and more enjoyable.

3. Making the work as easy as possible.

The smaller the barrier, the more likely you are to perform the activity.

For example, if you want to exercise daily, make it super easy at first. Start with just 5 minutes. It’s easy to get started with 5 minutes. Next week you can add 5 more. Also, find a form of exercise that’s convenient for you to do.

Often if you can just get over that barrier of getting started, then you’ll go ahead and complete the whole task.

So it is very important to make getting started simple.

Set a goal to make just one phone call or clean the garage for only 15 minutes. Then add to it incrementally.

4. Try to make the task more enjoyable.

Exercise might be far more enjoyable if you join a basketball league, better yet if you joined one that some friends were in, instead of running on a treadmill all by yourself at home.

Working on the computer might be a lot easier sitting out on your deck with the birds and the trees in the background.

Think about a way to perform the activity that you have in mind, the activity that you must perform in as an enjoyably setting as possible.

5. Stay in the present.

We’re all great at making ourselves feel bad about things that either happened in the past or haven’t happened yet. Avoid thinking about the unpleasant activity until it’s time to deal with it.

If you sit around and spend an hour dreading something, it makes it a lot harder to actually do it, and it makes it a lot harder to get anything else done in the interim.

And finally…

6. Stick with it.

You might exercise for a week straight and then fall off the wagon. Start all over again with the first step. You are not a robot; you can’t realistically expect to be perfect 100% of the time.

Set a goal for continuous improvement rather than perfection.

A certain amount of discipline is required to do anything worthwhile unless you are lucky enough to genuinely enjoy the whole process and all the steps involved in it. When you get stuck, take it easy on yourself and go back to your source of motivation. Why are you doing this? Then make the activity as easy and enjoyable as possible.

Regardless of the nature of your goal, the more control you have over yourself, the more successful you can become.

Thoughts?

photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pelegrino/4391195793/sizes/z/in/photostream/