Note: In the first post in this series Leadership Assets: Discipline I discussed what self-discipline is and why it is so important for us to develop this quality. In the second post Following the Path of Self-Discipline, I talked more about how self-discipline can serve us as leaders.
In the final post of this series, I’ll share some of the ways that I’ve cultivated my own self-discipline. I also request *your* input! What are the tips and tricks you use to keep yourself disciplined, or to increase your skills in this arena?
Here is a list I’ve compiled to get us started.
1) Nurture the integrity of our Word by doing what we say we are going to do. One practical way to take baby steps towards growing a larger capacity for this is to choose a goal that feels pleasantly exciting. Next, spend some time becoming completely clear on what that goal is—including what your life will look and feel like when you meet it.
After that, write the goal out on paper—by hand—and then tack it up somewhere it will be seen often, at least several times a day (I like to tape it onto the edge of my computer screen or to the bathroom mirror) to keep it in the forefront of your mind.
2) Break the goal down into each step necessary and follow through on completing them (i.e., “I’ve outlined the chapters for my new book,” “I’ve decided on the theme for the class series I’m teaching this Fall,” “I’ve contacted all of the Priest/esses I’d like to invite to teach at the retreat I’d like to hold at Samhain.”).
Then get in the habit of asking yourself for each and every action and non-action you take: Is this helping me to meet my goal? If the answer is no, choose again.
3) Do it anyway. Don’t wait around for inspiration to strike. Make plans, block out time on the calendar for them, and stick to it, no matter what. It’s so easy to put things off until “tomorrow”. Fifteen-minute increments—timer set—can be especially supportive in getting thing done, especially those things we don’t feel particularly inclined to do. Honestly, we can do most anything for fifteen minutes. If that sounds like too long, start with ten minutes, or even five. Start somewhere.
4) Begin and begin now. One day…or Day One??? NOW is the time, the Holy Moment of Now, the only moment we truly have.
5) Keep moving, no matter what. Don’t edit yourself in any way until you have had time to produce a significant brainstorm.
6) Self-care, self-care, self-care. Are you tired of this refrain from me yet? Do your best to be rested, fed, exercised, and relaxed in a culture that glorifies the opposite. Commit to taking care of Self first. This is possible.
7) Exercise—move energy. Moving our physical bodies also moves our mental, spiritual, and emotional bodies and gets things flowing, shifting, changing, growing.
8) Say NO to things that aren’t important to you and YES to the things that are. Release everything that is not a big YES. Do some journaling around what is a true “yes” and what is a definite “no” for you.
9) Visualization! Motivate yourself by spending a few minutes at least once a day visualizing the end result—the goal met—without contemplating the steps that it might take to reach it. I try to do this before I go to bed each night. Make sure you have first created a clear, concise, and powerful vision of your goal.
10) Write—and then use!—affirmations. “I do what I say I am going to do.” “I take one small, new step towards my dreams every day.” “I use my energies wisely and with intention.”
11) Get organized. To make space for this new habit, get rid of those things that don’t serve—old clothes, objects, emails, etc. Release things to free yourself, to free up your energies and your resources for that which you do want. A timer set for 15 minutes can be helpful in this process as well.
12) Get out of your head. To make space in my mind, I keep a handwritten weekly “to-do” list. For example, mine might say, “For the week beginning 7/9.” Seeing things written in black and white can help to keep us focused.
I work with this weekly list every day, adding things to it and crossing completed things off, until Fridays when I move things that weren’t finished to my list for the following week.
13) Be willing to experience trial and error; be willing to scrap plans that aren’t working; be willing to fail. Be willing to pick yourself up, learn the lesson, and begin anew.
14) Shut off notifications for phone, email, and social media. If you really enjoy social media, use it as a “reward” after doing X amount of work or spending X amount of time on a project.
15) Choose an accountability partner, someone you trust and respect. You can motivate one another by checking in once a week, once a day, once a month, your choice. You need not be working in the same field or on the same type of project to support, encourage, and witness one another.
16) Find a mentor. Someone who has been there, done that, and might even be wearing the t-shirt.
17) Make the necessary sacrifices. Borrowed from Old French sacrifice, from Latin sacrificium (“sacrifice”), from sacrificō (“make or offer a sacrifice”), from sacer (“sacred, holy”) + faciō (“do, make”).
To offer (something) as a gift to a deity. (Definition borrowed with gratitude from Wiktionary)
Can you dedicate your work to your Holy One(s)?
18) Reward yourself for good work done. Honor and celebrate successes, achievements, and leveling up before moving directly on to the next thing.
Dear Ones, we *can* arrive at a place where we are holding ourselves accountable instead of waiting around for someone else to do so. We *can* accept this level of agency—and the responsibilities that come along with it—if we really want to, if we wholeheartedly enter into a commitment with ourselves and our dreams.
Please don’t forget to be kind to yourself, always—don’t expect or demand perfection and don’t give up. Do the best you can and be proud of it. Progress, not perfection! Remember to pause and recognize your efforts and creations no matter how “small” they are. Be willing to seek help and support, cheerleaders and mentors.
Below, I’ve included the names of some Allies that you may wish to research further. Each has the potential to assist us in increasing self-discipline and our ability to maintain it.
And, as always, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
With Love, Lady Jesamyn
Stones: Blue Aventurine, Onyx, Red Jasper
Plants: Allspice, Cedar, Mulberry
Flower Essences: Blackberry, California Wild Rose, Tansy