Five years ago, I was the heaviest I’ve weighed in my life. When I would run, I’d immediately get tired. The worst part is I had no motivation to get healthier—until I threw my back out. I ended up in bed for six weeks and had shooting pains down my legs whenever I got up. When I went to physical therapy, the young woman helping me pointed to my stomach and said, “We need to awaken these muscles. They’ve become dormant.” From that point on, I knew I had to change. I had to think about how to develop self-discipline with eating and working out.
It took a lot of work, but I eventually lost 30 pounds and have maintained a consistent workout schedule for the past five years. Of course, self-discipline is bigger than just physical health. Having discipline helps us grow, makes us reliable, and strengthens our moral framework. Learning how to develop self-discipline is one of the hallmarks of being a person of character. Here’s how to develop self-discipline.
1. Face the reality.
It’s easy for us to make excuses or present ourselves in a better light than our actual reality. But if we are ever going to change, we have to accept the truth. When the physical therapist made those comments about my abs, it was painful, even embarrassing. But it was the truth. I was overweight, flabby, and out of shape. It was hard to hear, but I needed to accept the truth before committing to live differently.
2. Set clear end goals.
We have to keep in mind where we want to go and what we want to accomplish. If we don’t set clear goals, we’ll float around like feathers in the breeze. If you want to be disciplined, set clear and measurable goals. Then display those goals where you’ll see them every day. Several years ago, I wanted to lose 20 pounds. So I made a spreadsheet with the goals of drinking 75 to 100 ounces of water each day and running 15 miles a week. Every day, I looked at those goals and made sure I hit them.
3. Get up early.
No one likes to sleep in more than I do. I am a night owl through and through. And yet, when I’m in the habit of getting up early, I am much more disciplined and productive. Jesus often got up early before anyone else to spend time with God. Shortly after these times, he would do something extraordinary, like heal people, give sight to the blind, and feed over 5000 people with a few fish and loaves of bread. Getting up early doesn’t give us the power to perform miracles, but it does help us jump-start a day with focus and intention.Self-discipline starts by performing small and mundane activities consistently.
4. Do the small things.
We all want big change quickly. It doesn’t happen that way. Self-discipline starts by performing small and mundane activities consistently. Jesus said, “Be faithful in the little things. He who is faithful with little will be given much.” A mentor of mine said consistency over time equals impact. The small things add up to big results. It may take time to see those returns, but stick with it. Every small act of faithfulness makes your self-discipline stronger.
5. Keep track of your progress.
It’s pointless to have goals if you aren’t measuring whether or not you are moving toward them. Like I said, I need to update my spreadsheet every day. When I don’t track my progress, I stop doing things I need to do and become lazy. It’s easy to lack discipline when you lose focus on where you’re going. Keeping track helps you stay on point.
Sound off: What’s your strategy for how to develop self-discipline?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Why do you think it’s important to develop self-discipline?”