I love January. It is a clean slate – a brand new canvas on which I can paint my goals for success. In January, I find motivation to adjust course, move forward, and accomplish new things.
And then…February comes. And the momentum that was so strong in January comes to a screeching halt.
What can keep us going in February and beyond, driving us toward the success we set out to accomplish in January? One thing more than any other: self-discipline.
Self-discipline is the commitment that drives us forward when reality hits, temptations come, and distractions attempt to divert our attention away from our determined course.
To succeed, we absolutely MUST
Self-discipline is not a natural trait. Anyone who has encountered a chocolate donut on the way to a plate of vegetables can testify to this. Self-discipline, by definition, is a matter of training one’s self. This comes easier for some personalities than others, but all must develop self-discipline in order to succeed.
Here are some ways to build self-discipline in ways that fit each style.
- A D-wired person is naturally driven, but even we may get diverted – by impatience. Our annual goals need to be very simple, clear, and direct. Then we must surround ourselves with detailed folks who will carry out the plan when our patience wears thin. Our goal list for the year is quite possibly three bullet points on a sticky note.
- A C-wired person can be extremely self-disciplined. Your goal list is more like a book – complete with spreadsheets, full-color charts, and step-by-step instructions to carry out the plan. It is printed and bound in such a way that just holding it makes a person feel successful. The danger for the C-wired person is that, in the pursuit of perfection, you may go to the extreme and then burn out. Or the research, planning, and goal setting can become an end in and of itself. The key to sustained self-discipline for a C-wired person is taking action, pacing yourself, and spending some time with D-wired folks who will pull you forward when you get stuck in perfection.
- Self-discipline is probably most difficult for S- and I-wired folks. This is because the word “routines” sounds constricting and boring. So if you are S- or I-wired, you will have to make it interesting, fun, and interval-based. Your goals should be creatively written – perhaps even in the form of a visual wall of pictures. And then you need creative ways to carry them out. Let’s say you have decided to work out each day (the routine). Add variety to that by doing different workouts and participating in activities with and for friends (sports, mowing grass or shoveling snow for a neighbor, etc.). In this way, you train yourself to be disciplined in YOUR style. Your formula for success looks like this: Routines + Variety + People = Success. Be sure to include C-wired folks in your accountability group – they will help ensure you stick with the plan.
Join us on the Leadership Insight Show next week as we discuss “Secrets to Effective Self-Discipline” with special guest Anthony Forrester. It’s a great way to start the new year.