What’s the one thing you’ve been putting off that you really need to cross off your To Do list? Making a doctor appointment? Getting the oil changed? Registering for a class?
As you know, the more things that crowd your brain, the more “clutter” you have, and the less clearly you are able to see the things that are really important.
So my Just For Today challenge for you is to do one thing on your To Do list that you’ve been putting off too long. Just one thing! It doesn’t have to be anything major. It might be something you can do in a minute or in one phone call. Whatever it is, use today’s Just For Today challenge as your motivation to finally get it done!
Just last weekend I FINALLY put all my flowers in planters on my deck. It’s almost the end of June! And I bought those flowers Memorial Day weekend! I’d had a pretty busy couple of weeks, both at work and after hours, but every time I walked by those darn flowers, I kept thinking, “I have got to get those planted,” as they looked back at me all wilty and begging for new soil.
When I finally did plant the flowers, I’m not sure if I got more satisfaction out of knowing how pretty the deck was going to look, or just knowing I wouldn’t have to look at the flowers waiting to be planted anymore. Believe me, once those things were in their new pots, I definitely felt some emotional clutter clear out of my brain! For two weeks it felt like something was nagging me, and now I was free of the nag.
So think about something that you have been needing to get done, something that you keep ignoring in the hopes it will go away, and get it done today! You’ll be glad you did!
In the first article of this three-part series, we covered why self-discipline is important and what you can gain from building that skill in Self-Discipline: The Link Between Goals And Accomplishment. The second article, 6 Empowering Steps To Build Self-Discipline, Part 1, covered the first three steps: awareness, self-analysis, and progressive training, and now we’re ready to move on to the last three steps, which are (1) removing temptation, (2) finding inspiration, and (3) resisting the initial urge to overdo it.
Now that you have an idea how to identify the areas where you need more self-discipline, you have done some work to identify why you might sabotage yourself, and you have a grasp of how to build your self-discipline skills by progressively training yourself with increasingly tougher challenges, your next step in order to ensure success is removing temptation.
- If you tend to procrastinate when you should be taking on projects, try to eliminate the distractions. Unplug the TV for a set amount of time on the days you plan to work on more meaningful tasks. Stash your gaming system under the bed, hide your books or magazines out of sight – you get the idea. Regardless of how you usually occupy your time when you are procrastinating, take one or two extra steps to remove that temptation rather than just telling yourself again that you won’t watch television or flip through the new magazines.
- If you want to build self-discipline when it comes to your spending habits, start by limiting the amount of cash in your wallet. Don’t go window shopping or surf shopping sites online – even just for entertainment. You might also try some of my new ideas for resisting the urge to spend that you’ll find in 4 New Tips For Spending Less Money. If you’re one of those people who will spend money if you have it (regardless of whether you need to save or invest), you need to think about all the different things that tempt you to spend money and then design ways to remove that temptation.
- If you want to get better at self-discipline so you can turn away junk food and eat more nutritionally, clean out your cupboards and fridge, and get rid of anything that doesn’t fit the bill. It’s easy to say with your new devotion to self-discipline, you just won’t succumb, but the best plan is to set yourself up to succeed, and you do that by removing any temptation that might cause you to fail.
- Now you get the idea, right? This is an important step, regardless of which area in your life you need to be more self-disciplined. Whatever it is, remove any temptation that could hinder your progress.
Remember those “What Would Jesus Do?” bracelets? If you think about it, that saying could be a great self-discipline builder. When you want to get better in an area where someone else has already succeeded, you think about what that person would do, and you act accordingly.
Find an inspirational figure in the area that you are working on, and think of that person when you are tempted to let your self-discipline slide. Some examples might be:
- If you’re trying to get better about exercising, but you’re on the verge of slacking off one day, think about what Olympian Michael Phelps or NFL star Tom Brady would do.
- If you want to get out of debt and learn to live frugally, think about how Warren Buffett handles his finances, or read some advice from financial journalist Jean Chatzky.
When you feel like your self-discipline is wavering, think about what your idols would do, and count on their judgment to steer you in the right direction. And you don’t even have to depend on celebrities or people in the news to give you a lift. If you have friends who have accomplished goals that are similar to yours, count on them to inspire you and ask for their help along the way if needed.
Don’t Overdo It
Sometimes people get so motivated about overhauling their lives that they try to change everything at once. Before long, it just feels like too much change, and then everything’s a struggle. Don’t make that mistake.
When I suggested training progressively, keep in mind that you should start small and probably only try to change one area of your life at a time. Regardless of how motivated you are, it would be really difficult to give up junk food, start exercising regularly, stop smoking, and start getting enough sleep every night all at once. So do one thing at a time.
And don’t worry that you have to change everything NOW because now is when you are motivated. You will find that as you change one area and get better at self-discipline, your motivation will grow, and you will get better at making lasting changes. The motivation will stick with you!
Think of your lifestyle changes and the gradual building of your self-discipline skill as a marathon, and not a sprint. If you try to change too much at once, you will have a hard time sustaining your momentum for the long term, and you will burn out much quicker.
I hope you are inspired to identify areas in your life where you could use more self-discipline, and then use this six-step plan to help you work on that skill. Once you have mastered self-discipline, you will be well-equipped to make long-lasting changes in any area of your life that needs work. I’d love to hear from you as you follow the plan to get better at self-discipline. Let me know how it goes for you!
In my full-time job as an attorney recruiter, I work with a lot of people who are looking for a new job. I often find that job candidates are in one of two positions. Either they spent their entire career moving without much thought from one job to the next and now find themselves in a job that isn’t satisfying and they have no idea what to do next, or they stayed many, many years in a job they didn’t enjoy.
Either way, you’re pigeon-holed. It’s hard to re-define your career after 25-30 years of doing the same thing. It’s possible, but it’s not easy.
One way to avoid that problem is to set career goals and then create a plan to reach those goals. That way you can be sure you are moving along the right path for you, and you will eventually be exactly where you want to be. It’s never too early or too late in your career to set goals. Even if you are 60, you probably have things you want to do between now and when you retire. Use this guide to set career goals that are ambitious and realistic and to create a plan to get there.
The first step is to think big
You might have to do a little brainstorming in order to figure out your career goals. Ask yourself these questions, and remember this is the time to think BIG! Be ambitious as you answer these questions:
1. What would my ideal career look like? Is your current job in line with that ultimate ideal career? Do you need to shift industries or get more training or maybe get licensed?
2. Do I like what I’m doing now? What are my most favorite and least favorite aspects of my current job?
3. What kind of money do I want to make? Be realistic, but ambitious.
4. What’s my ideal setting? Large office with lots of people? Small, close-knit group of co-workers? Do you prefer a fast-paced environment or deliberate, methodical work? Maybe you’d like a job where you can work from home, or one where you travel a lot, or one where you’re out of the office a lot to meet other people.
5. What specific job do I want? The Million Dollar Question!
Give yourself enough time to really think about your answers to the above questions. When you are through, you should be able to have a good idea about your ultimate job goal.
Now turn that big dream into a realistic goal
After you’ve done some brainstorming, it’s time to make your goals very clear. Ask yourself the following questions to help you determine whether your ultimate goal is realistic:
1. Do I have the time that’s needed to achieve my goal? Keep in mind your other commitments and really take a hard look at how much free time you have now and whether you can free up some additional time.
2. Do I have the right education or training to achieve my ultimate goal? If not, is there a way I can get that training? What kind of time and money commitment would that require?
3. Is my ultimate goal one that would fit well with my ideal lifestyle? For instance, maybe your ultimate goal is to be a motivational speaker who travel the world to give speeches. But if you have young kids or want to be available to aging parents, that goal might not fit well with the type of lifestyle you envision for yourself. It’s important to envision the whole picture as much as you can.
4. Can my goals be achieved in the time frame I’ve set? If you’re 28 years old and want to be a doctor by the time you’re 30 but you never went to college, that’s not realistic. But it might be realistic to get there by the time you’re 38. Think about both best case and worst case scenario, and try to set a time frame that seems reasonable.
Create your master plan
Now that you’ve taken some time to dream big and also to make sure those dreams are attainable, you need a plan to get where you’re going. One of the best ways to do that is to make a list of all the intermediate steps you need to take to get from where you are today to where you want to be to reach your ultimate goal.
Think of those steps as mini-goals. For instance, if you currently have a job delivering papers, and you want to eventually run the whole newspaper, what would that take? You’d probably have to finish high school, graduate college with a journalism career, start working as a journalist, ask your boss for more administrative responsibilities, earn enough money for a graduate degree, go back to school, network with the higher-ups, etc.
Once you have an idea of your mini-goals, write them all out in chronological order. Put today’s date at the top and the date you want to achieve your goal at the bottom. Then next to each mini-goal, make a note when you want to have that step achieved and what you need to do to get there. Write down as many details as necessary and be sure to include a time frame for each mini-goal.
You have now created a road map to reach your ambitious and realistic career goal! You’ve already done more career planning than most people do in their lifetime. Keep your road map handy and refer to it often. Tweak it when you must, but also push yourself to reach the goals by the dates and deadlines you set. Keeping on track is the only way to get where you want to be.
Many studies have shown that people perform best when they set goals that are both specific and challenging. They perform much better than people who have goals that aren’t clearly defined such as “do your best” or “do what your boss asks”. Push yourself toward clear and ambitious goals, and you’ll be more highly motivated, do better at work, and move closer to your dream job. Good luck!
We all have ideas about things we want to achieve. Maybe you have small goals like eating healthier or spending more time with your kids. Or perhaps you created a bucket list, and now you want to figure out how to achieve all your dreams. Regardless of all your ideas, you need to have a plan to achieve them. Different people are motivated in different ways, so it’s important to find a way to set goals and stay motivated in a way that fits your personality.
Define your goals in a way that work for you
Some people are very specific and detail-oriented. They often prefer very concise directions when learning to do something new. They are more mathematical, analytical, and logical. If that’s you, try setting your goals by utilizing the SMART acronym. The letters stand for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely
Specific – Set your goals with very clear parameters. Instead of setting a goal of exercising to lose weight, make your goal “I will do a cardio workout for 30 minutes three days per week and do 45 minutes of strength training twice each week.”
Measurable – Create goals that have a numbers element to them – something that you can literally measure to see your progress. Instead of planning to save money by eating out less, plan to cook dinner at home six days per week. Or if you have a weight loss goal, set it in terms of calorie intake or body measurements or percent body fat – whatever is most important to you.
Attainable – Your ultimate goal should be something that is attainable. In other words, something you can work toward and ultimately achieve. Of course, there is very little you can’t accomplish if you put your mind to it, but just make sure it is indeed something you can ultimately see come to fruition.
Realistic – Make sure your goals are realistic in terms of the amount of time you have to spend reaching your goal and also the amount of work you are able to put into it. Don’t plan to wake at 5:00 every morning to workout if you are not a morning person and most likely will just keep hitting the snooze button. Don’t set yourself up for failure!
Timely – Set a time frame as part of your goal, such as “I will read five new books by the end of the summer” or “I will clean out two closets by the end of the weekend.” Adding a time factor to your goal creates a sense of urgency and helps you avoid procrastination.
If you’re not the analytical, logical type and you’re already feeling overwhelmed by all the requirements of setting a simple goal, don’t worry! I have a plan for you too. If you would describe yourself as intuitive and more a feeler than a thinker, you’ll set your goals differently. The steps are simple:
Choose a goal – Think about something you want to achieve and write it down. It might be “I want to get more exercise” or “I want to spend more time with my girlfriends.”
Lay out the steps – On a sheet of paper write your current status at the top (“I occasionally go for a walk, but that’s it for exercise”) and your goal at the bottom (“I want to exercise more”). Then in the space in between, write all the steps it would take to get you from top to bottom. You might need to buy workout clothes, load music on your iPod, recruit friends to join you, and set time in your schedule to go for a walk.
Some people find this method works best if they start writing their steps from the bottom and work their way to the top. Using that method might help you visualize your goal and can keep you motivated to stay on track.
Staying motivated to achieve your goals
Just like goal-setting, different people are motivated in different ways. Find the one you think would work best for you.
Track your progress
This might be another one for the numbers people! Whenever I’m working toward a goal, I find it really helpful to keep a list of what I’ve done toward reaching the goal, and I also like to track my progress in some other way. If you’re like that too, and if you have exercise, healthy eating or weight-loss related goals, there are some great journals you can pick up that provide you with a system to track every metric imaginable.
One is called I Will Get Fit This Time! Workout Journal. It divides all your exercise into categories, so you can track each one and each type. The food log has a space for everything you might want to record, such as calories, fat, portion sizes, etc. It also comes with a pocket journal, so you can keep one with you all the time, and it includes additional information about assessing your fitness level and creating plans to meet your goals.
Another great one is 90-Day Fitness Journal: Your Complete Fitness Companion. If you like LOTS of details, this one’s for you! You can record all your different goals, and then for each day you have spaces to record your daily goals, amount of food, calories, type and time of exercise, calories burned, and much more.
I reviewed both of these books pretty carefully, and I can recommend them both, depending on your needs and personality. Choose the one you think would work best for you and your lifestyle.
If you are someone who gets motivated by having a formal reward system, I suggest you read my article on 5 Simple Steps To Making Life Changes That Last. It contains detailed ideas and suggestions for setting small goals and rewarding your progress along the way. If you know you respond well to mini-rewards along the way, that’s a great way to stay motivated!
Can you already visualize what you might look or feel like when you accomplish your goal? If you’re someone who gets inspired by dreams, I bet you can find motivation by reading other people’s success stories. If you want to start your own business, do a google search on others who have done the same, and read their stories. If one of your goals is to travel the world, look for people who have done that and read about their experiences and how they made it happen.
Sometimes finding your motivation is as simple as reading about others who have already accomplished similar goals. Suddenly you find yourself renewed and recharged to keep moving forward!
What are your goals? What would you like to accomplish this month? What about this year, or in the next five years? Let me know in the comments, or connect with me on twitter at @onemoveforward. I look forward to hearing from you!
You’ve got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there. – Yogi Berra
How many times have you tried to make changes in your life, only to have it end just as quickly as it started? We can too easily lose our motivation or get discouraged or simply give up. I’ve talked a lot this week about making changes to your diet to make it a bit healthier, how to change how you communicate to make it more effective, and even changes to how you spend your family time. It’s easy to think about making changes and even to implement them in the beginning when your motivation is strong. But how do you make those changes stick? Here are five easy steps to get you started:
1. Focus on just one change – If you have a big goal (for instance, to get healthy), that can mean you need to make a lot of changes. But too much change at once can be overwhelming, and when it all feels unfamiliar, you may feel like you’re losing yourself in the process. It takes a few weeks to make a change into a habit. It takes even more time if the old habit has been around for a while.
If you want to create a healthier you, start with just one change you can implement right away. You might decide to take the stairs at work instead of the elevator, you might eliminate fried foods from your diet, or you might try to start exercising three days per week. But just one! More changes can always be incorporated after you master the first.
2. Prepare for the change in advance – Rather than just jumping in, really think about what it will take to implement that change. If your one change is that you want to start walking for exercise three days per week, that’s a great place to start. Go out and get some new workout clothes! Buy some new shoes if you don’t have a suitable pair. Load up your iPod with music you’d like to take with you. Preparing for the change allows you to get excited about your new goal and also builds excitement for the upcoming habit – both of which will be beneficial when you are trying to make your change permanent.
3. Get support – With anything you go through in life, it’s helpful to have a good support system. This is especially true during times when you might falter. So prepare in advance by rounding up the troops. For instance, you could let your family know which three days each week they can expect you to leave for a walk after dinner. Then it won’t come as a surprise, and they know to expect it. Invite them along if you think they might be inclined!
You can also ask a friend to go with you on your walks. Having a buddy system is invaluable when you are trying to make a change. Two people trying to make that change can support each other, and invariably on the day you are thinking of blowing off your walk, she will be at your door and ready to go.
4. Celebrate milestones – Rewarding yourself for a job well done probably isn’t something you do too often, right? Sometimes having your reward in the back of your head, though, can make all the difference when you are tempted to let your new habit slide. Working toward your milestones is a great way to keep on track.
Have a plan for how you are going to celebrate your success. Maybe your spouse will promise you a foot rub after you complete your first week of walking. After a month, treat yourself to a pedicure. After another month, maybe the seasons will have changed and you can reward yourself with warmer or cooler workout clothes.
You know best what will motivate you, so don’t forget to outline your rewards in advance. Making changes is hard enough – take care of yourself along the way, and it will be that much easier.
5. Savor success – You will reach your goal of making your change permanent if you keep at it. Even if you falter, don’t beat yourself up. If you miss a day of walking, go the next day. If you miss two days, think about how many days you did walk, pat yourself on the back, and hit the trails again in the morning. Always try to keep in mind where you started and where you are now. Take pride in your accomplishments!
People who are most successful at turning a change into a habit usually stumble a few times along the way. What’s most important is that you keep at it. Go back to what you know works for you. Turn to your support system, and go back to Step 1 if you need to. Be persistent in your positive change, and you will soon have a habit of which you can be proud. And then – go on to the next one.
What changes do you want to make? Where do you think you might start? Share your ideas with me in the comments, and we’ll talk more. Good luck!