The Challenge isn’t the Challenge. The REAL Challenge is…

DISCIPLINE! Yes I’m talking about those challenges you assigned to yourself for 2014. Maybe it’s your New Years Resolutions or if you’re like most Americans who have long given up on those maybe it’s just a new set of goals for your job or business.  Businesses after all succeed when they achieve their goals and goals are achieved because people reach them.  So whether you have forgone personal goals or not, it’s likely you still have some. Especially if your a leader.

So how do I know the challenge (aka goal, resolution, etc) isn’t the REAL challenge? …well experience. And given a few minutes of thought about it you can confirm the same thing.  Since I’ve set out on many of diets, established goals for horseback riding, date nights, sales goals and various other goals I can say with authority that the goal is generally not a problem of ability and ambition. It’s discipline.  Sadly I even have a recent example to give you…like last 24 hours recent. I signed up for not one but two writing challenges for 2014. It’s not that writing is impossible or extremely difficult (kind of like eating, exercise or any other goals). They are all doable and the goal is really about improvement and growth in most cases. I have an idea crazy personality (INTJ) so it’s not even the writers block of nothing to write about that’s my problem. I usually keep between 15-20 ideas rolling on my Wunderlist. Yet day 4 into the challenge (Saturday) I failed to write. (While I don’t plan on posting this until Monday, technically I’m writing it on Sunday) Not that I didn’t give thought to writing Saturday…I decided on this topic. I even did what I don’t usually do and wrote and outline for this post. Yet somewhere between the outline on the page and opening up WordPress I said eh….it can wait.

Key To Success (1)

While a blog post can’t turn the magic key to Discipline I think it can help us understand more fully the REAL challenge we face when we set out to accomplish any goal in 2014. Because if we can understand and win the discipline issue then we are WELL ABLE to accomplish whatever goal it is that we choose.  Here are 10 ideas I think are helpful in becoming more disciplined.

D – Determination. Determination is that setting of the mind on your purpose. Determination is an attitude.  Just like maintaining a positive attitude having a determined attitude isn’t something you set and forget. Being determined is a mindset that you have to establish each morning.

I – Identify your fears. Fear (worry, anxiety) is likely the silent killer for most goals. If you are unable to identify a tangible reason for the delay in your goal achievement then you’ll like discover it’s fear.  Do you have a method for overcoming your fears? My first book is an excellent tool for journaling and praying through this silent killer. Other great options are coaches (shameless plug) and a licensed counselor if the fear stems from a past experience.

S – Self-awareness. I was recently helping a client and was studying her personality type. I found a cool website that went into what things stress her personality type. (I plan on writing a post on that learning experience soon). I quickly took a look at my own stressors and how I react. I discovered that one of the ways I automatically deal with stress is to indulge. Oooohhhh….perhaps that explains the 10 pounds I can’t seem to keep off or the numerous unwise financial purchases I’ve made in the past. But now I can study those stressors and control those that are within my control, use the my journaling exercise for those that are out of my control and substitute other more healthy methods for dealing with them than indulge.  All that to say – understanding your personality type and how you naturally operate can help make being disciplined flow a little more naturally.

C – Character. Is there a character trait that needs improving? For instance using dieting as an example.  I can find the best diet for my body type, blood type and personality type but if there is a deeper character issue it’s likely that my success will be short lived. Two good examples in this category would be greed or gluttony for more. Or idolatry – running to food rather than running to God. Scripture is filled with antidotes for our deeper character issues. Identifying the deep character issue and addressing it will do wonders for becoming more disciplined.  Not addressing these issues will certainly hinder your ability to be disciplined.

I – Identify your weaknesses/temptations. We all have them. Those weakness that are inherent to our personality or human condition. Sweets are a dieting weakness for me. So I can plan ahead by having healthy alternatives on hand or enrolling an accountability partner to stop me from over indulging if I’m headed to a gathering that will have lots of temptations.

P – Practice, practice, practice.  I’ve heard discipline described as a muscle. And like working out the more you exercise the muscle the stronger it becomes. It’s the very reason I joined the 30 day writing challenge. I knew that even if I couldn’t make it all 30 days in a row straight that even 20 days out of 30 would be a great improvement. And like running, eating, or making sales calls, writing is a task that I must practice, practice, practice to get to the bigger goal.

L – enjoy the Little successes.  Take running a marathon as an example.  If you’ve never run a mile you might be waiting a looooonnggg time before you are celebrating your first marathon. How about instead celebrating the first mile you run. Celebrate the first week you run a mile every day. Celebrate your first 3 mile run, etc.

I – Identify ways to make it fun. All work and no play makes Jill a very dull girl.  In my life I like to enroll what I call the fun police. Those friends who tend to know how to make any activity fun. If you aren’t that person don’t hesitate to grab a friend that is. She’ll be able to help you come up with some great ideas for infusing fun into your journey towards your goal.

N – say NO to Negative influences. This could be people, places, circumstances or even substances. It’s basically whatever knocks you off track.

E – Enlist Encouragement. Find that friend, coach, or co-worker in your life willing to give you encouragement.  Don’t just go hang out with an encouraging person and expect them to know you need encouraging. No be intentional with sharing your goals, weaknesses, obstacles, everything about what you are trying to accomplish with that person.  Make sure they know how you like to be encouraged, how often, and how they will know when you need that little extra.  Don’t leave anything about this one to chance.  This could be that little extra that pushes your ability to discipline yourself towards your goal over the top.

So what about you? What helps you stay disciplined? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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