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Trying to will yourself into having more self-discipline is a little like trying to pick yourself up by your bootstraps. The downward force will always equal the upward pressure, and nothing will move. What you need is a lever. For becoming self-disciplined, the leverage you need comes from a sound strategy. In this article, Joey Klein, Inner Matrix Systems Founder and CEO, provides five keys for developing a plan for overcoming the forces that prevent you from achieving your self-discipline goals.
Whether it is a desire to save more money, a need to get more exercise, a responsibility to control your temper, or a commitment to quit an unhealthy habit, you are sunk before you even begin without a strategy.
- Name where you are now and where you want to be
To make progress, you must first acknowledge where you are now and identify where you want to be. Picking some measurable benchmarks along the way will be helpful too.
Telling yourself that you could get up at 4:00 AM to go to the gym if you wanted to, followed by the never-helpful “I just don’t want to,” is unproductive. It leaves you stuck in a place with no obvious choices.
However, if you are clear on the vision of where you want to go and your “why” behind it, you are able to train a way of being that will allow you to wake up at 4 am. What will waking up at that time mean for you? Sure, it may mean sleeping a little bit less. But if you tie your 4 am wake-up call to having precious time to yourself so that you’re more patient and fulfilled with the people you love, or to preparing yourself to contribute to something larger than yourself, you’ll be able to forgo the snooze button and get yourself up.
- Align your emotions with what it will mean to have more self-discipline.
Our emotions are what drive the thoughts our mind thinks and ultimately the actions we take. Keep in mind that there is no such thing as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ emotions – only emotions that align us with the outcome we want and those that don’t. In any given moment, we are aligned with emotions, thought strategies, and actions that take us toward the vision we want to fulfill or aligned with those things that are taking us towards something else.
The fact that you don’t save as much money as you think you ought to should be enough evidence to convince you that simply wanting something will not make it happen. If you align your emotions with the outcome you have named in step one above, you can harness the power that passions inherently contain.
Envision what it’s going to feel like when you achieve the level of financial freedom you dream of. Embrace the emotions that will accompany that accomplishment. Turn what was once only a want to save more money into a passion for sound financial actions. And then take a moment to access those emotions in times of not wanting to save and remind yourself what it will mean if you take the action you named while in a love-based emotional state.
- Train yourself to fall back on your aligned emotions to keep you motivated.
As you have undoubtedly learned from your past, there will be difficult times ahead as you execute your strategy. You will lose control and yell or speak sharply to a loved one and then feel ashamed.
When this happens, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, acknowledge that you slipped up, and then restore your passion for creating a loving relationship so you can pick up where you left off. Training a way of being and personal mastery does not mean that you are perfect; it simply means that you are able to catch yourself when you’re not aligned with your vision and re-direct more quickly.
- Reinforce what is working and eliminate what is not.
Every strategy needs to be fine-tuned. Giving up an addiction is certainly no exception. If replacing cigarettes with carrot sticks doesn’t work for you, but avoiding alcohol does, you’ve identified one element of the plan that can be eliminated and another you can reinforce.
Avoid the mistake of giving up when all you really needed was an adjustment. Great strategies are usually developed – over time and with effort – not plug-and-play right out of the box.
- Focus on your strategy, not your failures.
The last step is actually more of a principle. Remember that whatever you focus on will drive your emotions and therefore fuel your strategy. If you focus on failure and setbacks, the passion will dwindle and lose its power. Instead, focus on your strategy and the emotions you have tied to the outcome to motivate you to move ahead.
About Inner Matrix Systems
Inner Matrix Systems, based in Denver, is a personal mastery training system for high achievers. For more than twenty years, IMS has delivered a proprietary methodology that rewires, trains, and aligns the nervous system, emotions, and thought strategies to create real-life results. CEO, Joey Klein, and IMS have worked with more than 80,000 individuals from around the world through both live and online training programs, as well as one-on-one coaching. Clients have included: Boeing, IBM, Dell, Google, Panda Express, Coca Cola and The World Health Organization. Joey is the author of The Inner Matrix: Leveraging the Art & Science of Personal Mastery to Create Real Life Results (June 2021).