How to Develop Discipline In Every Area of Your Life
It never fails that the number one question that my clients ask me is, "How do I develop discipline?" Discipline is an area where a lot of people struggle. In fact, when I sent out my mid-year survey a few months back, 70% of people indicated that developing discipline was one of their top struggles. Those results got me thinking, why do so many people struggle with discipline?
Too many people want results without putting in the work and effort it takes to achieve them. The dream is real, but so is the work! It's not enough to dream or want. Achieving your goals takes some action on your behalf. That is why I love this quote by Gary Ryan, "Self-discipline is an act of cultivation. It requires you to connect today’s actions to tomorrow’s results. There’s a season for sowing a season for reaping. Self discipline helps you know which is which." This quote shows that discipline is an act of cultivation, meaning that it takes an intentional effort with a future, not present focus.
I've always been a goal and future oriented woman. In high school I lost 65 lbs, I graduated as valedictorian, and then I went on to Howard University where I graduated magna cum laude and was invited to join Phi Beta Kappa, and other national leadership societies. It's not that I was unmotivated or uninspired at times along the journey, but I chose to take on the commitment and responsibility of pursuing the plan that God had for me. Here are the general principles that I've used to develop discipline in nearly every area of my life.
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Pray for discipline.
Remember, willpower is a myth. You can’t do this on your own. Stop relying on what you think you can do, and put your confidence in what you know that Christ can do. God desires for you to become disciplined, and we know that whatever we pray for in His will, we will receive. (Matthew 7:7)
Set S.M.A.R.T. goals.
S.M.A.R.T. goals are specific, measurable, attainable/actionable, and time-bound. This goal setting strategy reduces overwhelm by breaking down your goals into doable tasks. If you’re overwhelmed with the big picture, create clarity and direction with S.M.A.R.T. goals.
Use a planner to schedule your day.
I love to plan my day the night before, that way I’m not rushing around trying to remember what I wanted to do. We lose time when we are trying to plan and make decisions in real time. Your planner should serve as a blueprint for your goals.
Create a daily routine.
A routine creates structure and order in your day by enforcing productive habits. Even if your schedule varies day to day, aim to have a morning and evening routine that motivates and prepare you for your day. Once you get in a habit of following the steps outlined in your routine, you can make effective progress towards your goals.
Learn how to master your time.
Time is currency, but unlike money, you can’t get it back. Apart of developing discipline is learning how to become a master steward over your time. The truth is, you make time for the things you want to make time for you. What are your priorities? How and where you spend your time is a key indicator of what is important to you. A time audit is a great tool to use in order to monitor how you’re spending your time. God has graced you with ample time do what He has called you to do. It’s up to you to spend that time wisely.
Spend at least 30 minutes daily working toward your goals.
If you can’t commit at least 30 minutes a day to your goals, why are you setting them? It’s so important that at the beginning of your day you are giving your first to God. Start your day by spending at least 30 minutes with Him and then take an additional 30 minutes throughout the day to do what He has called you to do. Over time, those 30 minutes will add up and before you know it, your goals will be accomplished.
Be intentional, not emotional.
Your feelings are non-factors when it comes to pursuing your God-given goals and purpose. Don’t let your emotions dictate your actions. Subdue your flesh to your spirit by being intentional and obedient to what the Holy Spirit is telling you to do. God didn’t guarantee your comfort in carrying out His will, but He does guarantee your growth and reward if you don’t give up. (Galatians 6:9)
Discipline is such a vital practice when it comes to reaching your goals and pursuing your purpose. It won't be easy, but God has equipped us with a sound & disciplined mind in order for us to do so (2 Timothy 1:7 NLT). Discipline cannot be achieved on a one-time effort. It’s a continual practice of denying your flesh and operating in the Holy Spirit so you can accomplish mighty goals through Him. It's time to eliminate the excuses and make progress toward your God-given goals and purpose.
In order to help you develop discipline in your life, I've created the Developing Discipline Devotional Challenge, a free 5 day devotional challenge to help you eliminate excuses and partner with the Holy Spirit to Develop Discipline. Each day you will receive a devotional along with a journaling prompt and challenge to help you finally develop discipline in your life. You'll also receive a free mini journaling workbook where you can record your thoughts and prayers throughout the challenge. Click the button below to sign up for the Developing Discipline Challenge!
In what areas of your life are you wanting to develop discipline in? Let me know in the comments below!