Becoming a Disciplined Person – Part Two
Most people are not naturally disciplined in the various aspects of their life – at home, at work, or even at play. Becoming disciplined is, however, something we can learn. Last time we looked at two aspects of building a daily discipline into our lives:
1> Know what is important in your life
2> Get rid of excuses that we all make for not being disciplined
3> TAKE ACTION BEFORE YOU FEEL LIKE IT
Our culture does not help us with this. Looking around at how others are living does not motivate us to act in spite of not feeling like it. The message we hear over and over is that we should do what we feel. But what if we don’t feel like doing something? Should we wait for inspiration? In the case of writing, every experienced writer will tell you that you have to write when you don’t feel like it. Otherwise, you’ll never get much done. That has been very true in my life. So, every day I sit down in front of the computer screen and write regardless of how I am feeling.
Every person has a weak area that is especially hard to discipline. So what should you do to implement more discipline in that area and in your life in general?
A> THINK ABOUT THE CONSEQUENCES OF NOT ACTING
If you don’t make the right decisions and choices and then act upon them, there will be consequences. We need to understand that truth and remind ourselves of it on a daily basis.
B> FOCUS ON DOING THE RIGHT THING JUST FOR TODAY
If you think about having to do something you don’t want to do every day for the rest of your life, it will most likely discourage you. So simply focus on today. One day at a time (a good Alcoholic’s Anonymous slogan) has worked for me for the last 40+ years. I can handle the ‘today’. So I live one day at a time.
C> MAKE YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE TO SOMEONE ELSE IN YOUR WEAK AREA
Few things are more effective in the area of self-discipline than accountability. Why? Because we all need help with our weaknesses! You need to answer to someone besides yourself. When you have only yourself to answer to, you don’t do nearly as well as you do when someone else is holding you accountable.
So, my question is: What systems do you have in place to prompt you to take the right action when you don’t feel like it? Who have you enlisted to hold you accountable? No matter how much self-discipline you have, you could benefit from ways to help you take action when it counts.
4> DON’T LET DISTRACTIONS DISTRACT YOU
People who accomplish things in life that benefit and impact others are careful what they focus on and thus what they allow or don’t allow to distract them from their primary purpose. In other words, know your priorities and stick to them. This may require learning some basic time management skills. This will require that you set boundaries and know what you should and can say “yes” to and what you must say “no” to.
Each week (and, as a result, each day) I have goals set that I want to (often need to) reach and accomplish during that specific day. That means there are many things I need to be disciplined enough to not become involved in — a number of things that I simply need to say “no” to; things that take my focus away from what really needs to be accomplished.
- I get almost daily requests to prophecy over people who are “friends” on Facebook or who connect through my ministry’s web site. The answer is always no!
- I don’t answer any phone call directly when the phone rings. I let it go to the message manager and then listen to my messages near the end of the work day and return those that need my attention.
- I don’t listen for or look at messages that come in on the various message apps. They can wait because what I have determined needs to be accomplished today is more important than what might be in those messages. They are, most often, simply a distraction.
- I run all messages for family and for ministry during one two hour period on Monday mornings when the stores are least busy.
- I schedule daily reading and research time which is a non-negotiable and cannot be replaced by anything else no matter how important.
Stephen Covey called this doing first things first. It could also be called the Crowding Out Principle. It goes like this:
If you spend all your time on highly productive tasks, by the end of the day, you will have ‘crowded out’ all the unproductive activities that might have distracted you from your real work. On the other hand, if you spend your time on low value activities, those low value activities will crowd out the time that you needed to complete the tasks that can make all the difference in your life. And the key to this attitude toward time and personal management is always self-discipline.”
Ask yourself: “What am I crowding out of my life these days?” Are you doing the unimportant or the convenient at the expense of the essential? I hope not, because, if you are, you are going to be in trouble. You aren’t expending your energy on what really matters,
So ask yourself that question daily as a reminder to feed your focus and diminish your distraction: What am I crowding out today? When you’re thinking about and doing those things that bring a high return every day, you won’t have time to do the things that have low return. And that will move you forward in your life so that you fulfill God’s plan for your life.