As you read this selection from the textbook HUMAN RELATIONS, look to see why self-discipline is important in achieving your goals.


Andrew DuBrin

Another perspective on achieving goals and staying motivated is that it requires self-discipline, the ability to work systematically and progres­sively toward a goal until it is achieved. The self-disciplined person works toward achieving his or her goals without being derailed by the many dis­tractions faced each day. Self-discipline incorporates self-motivation be­cause it enables you to motivate yourself to achieve your goals without being nagged or prodded with deadlines.

Component 1. Formulate a mission statement.          

Who are you? What are you trying to accomplish in life? If you understand what you are trying to accomplish in life, you have the fuel to be self disciplined. With a mission, activities that may appear mundane to others become vital stepping-stones for you. An example would be learning Spanish grammar to help you become an international businessperson. To help formulate your mission statement, answer two questions: What are my five biggest wishes? What do I want to accomplish in my career during the next five years?

Component 2. Develop role models.       

An excellent method of learning how to be self-disciplined is to model your behavior after successful achievers who are obviously well disciplined. To model another person does not mean you will slavishly imitate every detail of that person's life. Instead, you will follow the general pattern of how the person operates in spheres related to your mission and goals. An ideal role model is the type of person whom you would like to become, not someone you feel you could never become.

Component 3.  Develop goals for each task.         

Your mission must be supported by a series of specific goals that collectively will enable you to achieve your mission. Successfully completing goals eventually leads to fulfilling a mission. Each small goal achieved is a building block toward larger achievements.

Component 4.  Develop action plans to achieve goals.          

Self-­disciplined people carefully follow their action plans because they make goal attainment possible. It is helpful to chart your progress against the dates established for the subactivities.

Component 5.  Use visual and sensory stimulation.          

A self-­disciplined person relentlessly focuses on a goal and persistently pursues that goal. To accomplish this consistent focus, self-­disciplined people form images of reaching their goals-they actually develop a mental image of the act of accomplishing what they want. As mysterious as it sounds, visualization helps the brain convert images into reality. The more senses you can incorporate into your visual image, the stronger its power. Imagine yourself seeing, tasting, hearing, smelling, and touching your goal. Can you imagine yourself sitting in your condo overlooking the ocean, eating a great meal to celebrate the fact that the business you founded now has 10,000 employees?

Component 6. Search for pleasure within the task.           

A self-­disciplined person finds joy, excitement, and intense involvement in the task at hand, and therefore finds intrinsic motivation. Instead of focusing on the extrinsic (or external) reward, the love of the task helps the person in pursuit of the goal. An axiom of becoming wealthy is not to focus on getting rich. Instead, focus on work. If the task at hand does not thrill you, at least focus on the pleasure from the most enjoyable element within the task. A bill collector might not find the total task intrinsically motivating, but perhaps he or she enjoys developing skill in resolving conflict.

Component 7.  Compartmentalize spheres of life.        

Self-disciplined people have a remarkable capacity to divide up (or compartmentalize) the various spheres of their lives to stay focused on what they are doing at the moment. While working, develop the knack of concentrating on work and putting aside thoughts about personal life. In the midst of social and family activities, concentrate on them rather than half-thinking about work. This approach will contribute to both self-discipline and a better integration of work and family life.

Component 8. Minimize excuse making. 

Self-disciplined people concentrate their energies on goal accomplishment rather than making excuses for why work is not accomplished. Instead of trying to justify why they have been diverted from a goal, high-achieving, self-disciplined people circumvent potential barriers. Undisciplined people, in contrast, seem to look for excuses. If you are an excuse maker, conduct a self-audit, writing down all the reasons blocking you from achieving any current goal. Be brutally honest in challenging each one of your excuses. Ask yourself, "Is this a valid excuse, or is it simply a rationalization for my getting sidetracked?"

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