Becoming a master of self-discipline is difficult. I mean, even becoming a self-discipline apprentice is be hard. When it comes to certain aspects of your life, it can sometimes seem as though you have no control. But really, you do. You just don’t know it yet.
Learning how to build self-discipline skills can allow you to cease bad habits, accomplish long-term and short-term goals, and change your life completely.
We’ve outlined seven steps to build your self-discipline and work toward the better life you deserve. Well… if you work for it.
1. Count down, then take action.
When you’re feeling particularly unmotivated, count down from ten, then force yourself to do whatever it is you’re doing. Sometimes all we need is a little push to take that next step.
2. Write down your goals somewhere you can see them everyday.
Writing a goal down makes it all the more real. Hang it up somewhere you will see it often and inspire yourself — at your work desk, in your bedroom, in your car, etc. Write the goal in your yearly planner. Put it on your kitchen calendar. You can also set actual calendar reminders in your phone to go off once a week or so. But be nice to yourself. Don’t scare or shame yourself into your goals; rather, be happy, positive, and encouraging. Add motivational quotes from people you admire.
3. Remind yourself why you started.
Keep your end-goal in mind without allowing yourself to forget where you started. Constantly remind yourself — especially when it gets hard — how and why you set this goal and what you will have achieved when you’re done. Visualize yourself having taken complete control of your life and accomplishing whatever specific goal you’ve set. Set reminders in your phone to tell yourself how far you’ve come and how proud you are.
4. Set small goals first.
Try not to overwhelm yourself by setting the bar too high. Build your confidence by setting and achieving a small goal before you go for a big one. For example, if your ultimate goal is to run five miles without stopping, set an initial goal of running a quarter mile without stopping. Be patient with yourself and try not to get frustrated with the process.
5. Practice prioritizing.
Decide which tasks are worth dedicating the most effort to, then organize your day to totally crush them. If you set a sturdy plan, you’re less likely to procrastinate (or just totally not do) the less-than-savory tasks you’re reading this article to tackle. Put things you don’t necessarily love at the tippy-top of your priorities, and you’ll be relieved they’re done instead of put off another day.
6. Know your weaknesses.
Then, proactively combat them. Determine how you might slip up and how you can prevent that from happening. If you know you need to run a 5K this Saturday but your friend is having a barbeque on Friday night and peer pressure is your kryptonite, tell your friends ahead of time of your goal and your plans. If you know you need to get to work an hour earlier every day this week but you’re a bit of a night owl, invest in some Melatonin. You have the tools to fight back against your own demons. You just need to hunt them down.
7. Get friends to hold you accountable.
You are less likely to cheat on your goals if someone you admire is watching. Have your hero (or just your BFF) set a goal alongside you. You can cheer each other on. And when the going gets tough, you can be there to give each other that extra push.
A version of this post previously appeared on Fairygodboss, the largest career community that helps women get the inside scoop on pay, corporate culture, benefits, and work flexibility. Founded in 2015, Fairygodboss offers company ratings, job listings, discussion boards, and career advice.