Wish everyone a great 2021. 2021 is well underway and we all have resolutions and goals we want to achieve. We also want to make sure this excitement doesn’t just last for two weeks but lasts for the entire year. So how do you keep this excitement going for a long time? To me the answer is one word which is discipline. It is discipline that will keep you going for the long haul and continue to keep your resolutions and goals in focus. This quote is great “Discipline is the refining fire by which talent becomes ability.” Roy L. Smith
In the book “The Motivation Myth” Jeff Haden makes an interesting premise that success is what leads to motivation. Attending a motivational seminar may get you excited but once you are back home you are the same person because you haven’t accomplished anything except paying for the seminar. I really liked this book because it hits right into what is needed for genuine success and it is grit, discipline and hard work. Once you get started that’s when motivation kicks in.
In the book When by Daniel Pink he says beginning of a year or week gives us a fresh start and lets us shed our old skin metaphorically. So, 2021 is a wonderful time for all of us to change whatever we want to and only if we want to. If we already have some best practices that are working we can just continue those. Any change we want to do has to be totally personal.
As Tony Robbins says you should have a vision that is so exciting and compelling that it pulls you rather than push. Of course, it is not easy to create this but if we do then the path towards goals and resolutions become effortless. Pull is always better than push which can seem like a lot of effort. As a lot of researchers like Roy Baumeister have shown willpower never lasts but discipline can last for a lifetime.
Here I expand the word discipline and this will keep us on target to make 2021 a momentous year. Here are the 10 ways to stay disciplined in 2021.
Dedication — You need to be dedicated to whatever goals you have set for yourself. Write down what benefits you will get by achieving your goals. This will propel you and keep you energized for the long haul. Dedicate yourself to your work and again write down all the good things about whatever you do for a living. Dedication to your life is the true barometer of what you will achieve in 2021. Gratitude is the starting point of dedication. Set a big goal and then install habits to ensure you are on track automatically. Check out my article on installing habits instead of resolutions. Resolutions are the small piece but if we want to be excited we need to have a bigger vision instead of resolutions. Forget Resolutions — Install these 13 Habits.
Inspiration — Inspiration is the fuel you need to accomplish all your goals. Decide on things that keep your inspired. It may be reading a motivational book which leads to action, for others it may be when you spend time with people who are inspiring, or it may be playing the sport you enjoy. Whatever it is make sure you stay inspired and it is something that must be planned. When you are inspired it is easier to follow through with discipline. You can also ensure you know which time of the day you are at your best. As Daniel Pink outlines in his book “When” some of us like me are larks that is we love the early mornings while others are owls. If you are a lark schedule your toughest tasks for the morning. If you are an owl schedule some difficult tasks for later in the day. Of course, this also depends on what the expectations are. You might also get a little down in the afternoon time which can be avoided by going for a nature walk or taking a quick 5-minute break.
Success — This is a very important step to take. You must define what success means for you not what some bestseller says. Your goal must be your own otherwise it is tough to be disciplined. What do you want to achieve in 2021 or to put it another way what would 2021 look like if you achieved what you wanted to? Again, this definition is critical to keep the momentum going and it must be truly your own. It also requires discipline not deviate from your own definition of success.
Count your blessings — The problem with resolutions is we are trying to want something we don’t have or removing something unpleasant. This sometimes can result in us feeling a little inadequate when we don’t follow through. I would suggest count your blessings instead. Irrespective of whether you stick to your resolutions or not you already have a lot to be thankful for in your life. This will ensure that any setbacks will not derail you completely. Your happiness cannot be dependent on a goal or resolution. At the end of the day we can write what we are happy about. The more we try to reinforce what is going well in our lives we feel more fulfilled. We will always have things that we need to improve on but we should not allow those things to let us feel inadequate in any way or form.
Initiative — You need to have a bias for action to achieve all you want in 2021. Personal initiative is a key success quality and you need to act towards fulfilling your vision. For example, if you want to learn a subject get all the resources needed to become an expert on that and take the necessary action to put it into practice. If you want to lose weight exercising more and eating healthier is the best long term option. Visualization has been the topic of discussion for decades and all athletes visualize their routines well before the actual event. While it is tougher for us sitting in a cubicle we can still visualize how success would like for us. Doing something gives us the motivation to move forward. In other words, action is the cure for procrastination.
Perseverance — The one thing that is certain in our lives is roadblocks on the way to our goals. As the saying goes when the going gets tough the tough get going. Never give up and always keep the prize in mind. Keep your long-term vision always in focus while you encounter short term setbacks. Never give up on your vision. Perseverance is truly the winner’s edge. Yo-Yo Ma in one of the interviews on Harvard Business Review said “So, basically, to be successful, you actually have to welcome the totally unexpected.” So, we should always be prepared for unexpected events and flexibility is the key to persevere. Another example is Gail Devers who was diagnosed with Graves’ disease in 1990 and underwent radioactive treatment which did not go well. She could barely walk and had to crawl. A doctor even considered amputating her feet. However, Devers recovered after the radioactive treatment was stopped and unbelievably started training. She won a silver medal in the 100 m hurdles during the 1991 World Championships. This is truly a fitting example of perseverance.
Love your life — You need to love your life to get the most out of yourself. Forget time management because if you truly love and value your life you will automatically manage yourself better. Get excited about your life and its possibilities. It is a wonderful time to be alive in our current abundant world. Develop an abundance mindset as there is enough credit to go around. You can love your life irrespective of your achievements. This detachment will help you achieve your goals faster as you are not focusing only on the outcome. As Warren Buffet said write down your top 25 priorities, select the top 5, work only the top 5 and eliminate the rest.
Imagination — Napoleon said imagination rules the world. Einstein said “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.” Develop your creativity by capturing all the ideas you get and then act on those ideas. Another way to unleash creativity is to spend some time alone and ask the big questions of life. Exercise is also known to enhance creativity and stroke your imagination to greater heights. Keep track of all your goals in your journal. I recorded every day the things that went well in 2020. Hope by the end of 2021 I will have a lot to celebrate about. Writing things down keeps us on track and it also shows we are making progress.
Now — You have only the present moment so don’t spend time looking at the past where you may not have had what you wanted. Have a future vision but ensure you take daily action towards the vision you have for 2021. It is now or never. We can achieve all our goals only if we take daily action towards our closely cherished dreams. As John Maxwell says, “You cannot change your life unless you change something you do daily.” Your daily agenda is the key to your success in 2021. If you haven’t had the apple you wanted to have today have it now.
Set the example — Finally think of yourself as the example that everyone can follow. This will put internal and external pressure to follow through on your commitment. For example, we all know exercise is good for us but follow through is the key. Imagine you are setting the example for your family and work out daily. Get up earlier if you need to. This is the best way to develop the discipline muscle. If you want to exercise more make this goal public which will put more pressure to achieve and you are more likely to follow through.
There you have it the 10 keys to stay disciplined in the New Year and throughout the year. Take one goal or resolution from your list and just focus on that one. Once you have established that as a habit you can move to the next resolution or goal. Having too many goals or resolutions can wear us down. Wish you a great 2021. Some of the best books on habits is The Power of Habit, Atomic Habits, Good Habits Bad Habits and of course the legendary Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
Thanks for reading this post. The views expressed here are my own and do not represent my organization.