S E L F D I S C I P L I N E
A simple concept really–do what needs to be done when it needs to be done so as to gain a future benefit.
Yet, as simple as the concept of self-discipline is, the practical implementation of it can be so, so hard.
Why is this? Why is self discipline something that so many of us struggle with on a daily basis? We know that getting off the couch and going for a walk will pay off with better health down the road, but still, we down another bag of Cheetos while watching yet another episode of Pretty Little Liars or we put off balancing our checkbook even though we know that the two checks that we bounced last month could’ve been avoided if we had just taken a few minutes to reconcile our account.
Why is it so easy to procrastinate and so hard to take disciplined action towards our goals? For me, the answer to that question lies partially in accountability. You see, I have no problem getting my work done at my job because I know that my boss and other team members are counting on me. The mere fact that other people have expectations that I need to meet, is enough to spur me into action because I don’t want to let them down. Things are a little dicier when it comes to my personal goals and aspirations however, because no one (other than myself) knows or even cares if I am making progress. The only person that I have to be accountable to is myself, and therein lies the problem.
Fortunately, for me–I am addicted to the feeling that I get whenever I check something off of my to-do list. That little adrenaline hit that I get whenever I am able to mark something off as completed is so addictive to me that I have been known to add already completed items to my to-do list just so I can then check them off. At first I thought that I was crazy for doing this, but when I recently mentioned this habit to a group of fellow entrepreneurs, I found out that many (most!) of them do the exact same thing. Whew! I’m not the only crazy one!
As much as I love checking things off of my to-do list, I am equally motivated by the terrible feeling of not getting to check something off. I HATE having things on my list that I don’t get to check off. It will drive me crazy if there are unchecked items on my list. So…knowing this about myself, I have found an incredibly effective way to develop my own self discipline, while holding myself accountable through the use of a simple checklist system.
Currently, I have two major areas of my life that I am really focusing on improving–my physical health and my goals for FabYOUlous Life. Obviously I have other areas of my life that are also important, but for some reason, these two areas are the areas in which I find myself procrastinating the most. So, I created a tool that helps me to take daily action steps toward my goals in these areas. You can download this handy checklist page here
The page is divided up into four weeks and has space for five different daily action steps. The most important parts of the sheet however (at least in my opinion) are the daily check box spaces. It makes me CRAZY to have an unchecked box!
Feel free to use the sheet in whatever way works best for you, but here is a basic snapshot of how I am using it for my purposes…
I have decided that the action steps that I want to take every week are…
-Work on FabYOUlous Life (either posting on the blog, writing my book or other promotional activities)
-Run at least three times a week
-Do two sets of push-ups a day (20 push-ups in the morning and 20 push-ups in the evening)
-Take my vitamins every day
-Do two 3 minute wall-sits a day (one in the morning and one in the evening)
I have written these items in the spaces for each week. On the days that I run, I write down the number of miles that I logged in the corresponding square (I only run 3 times a week so on my non-run days I write in the letter R for “rest day”. This keeps me from going crazy over empty boxes.) For my other activities, I use a big X to signify completion. I use an X instead of a check mark because two of my activities (the push-ups and wall-sits) are things that I want to do twice a day. As soon as I complete my first set, I draw one line of the X (/) and then add the other line once the second set is completed.
I’ve been using this sheet for a month already and I have noticed huge improvements in my commitment to actually following through on these activities. I have the sheet taped up on the outside of the medicine chest next to my mirror where I get ready in the morning. This ensures that I see the sheet every single day. It also ensures that my hubby sees it, and there is something about knowing that he can see a visible representation of my progress that serves as yet another boost to my motivation.
Having used this system for a month, I can already see that one of my activities (taking my vitamins) is becoming an ingrained habit (exactly what I was hoping would happen). As things begin to become second nature, they will be replaced on my sheet with new activities that I want to incorporate into my life (I think I’ll add meditation next month) but until things truly become an ingrained part of my routine, I’ll keep them on my sheet and keep using those X’s as a way to hold myself accountable. I am LOVING the muscles that I am seeing in my arms now as a result of my push-ups (just ask my husband–I make him look at them every day–ha!) and I dig the fact that my 3 minute wall sit (which was impossible for me when I began this effort) has become do-able. I also love the work that I’ve gotten done on FabYOUlous Life and my goal of running a half-marathon now seems inevitable instead of impossible.
All of these things are things that I’ve wanted to happen for a long time, but it wasn’t until I started using this simple sheet that I actually started taking action. So, if you’re like me and addicted to the feeling of checking things off of your t0-do list, give this system a try. I bet that you’ll experience FabYOUlous results.
*For future reference, a downloadable copy of this sheet will always be available in “Fab Printables and Downloads” under the “More FabYOUlousness” tab.