Determination, noun: the act of coming to a decision or of fixing and setting a purpose.

This is where it starts.

That plant was determined to stay alive, even in a sandy dune.

If you want to take charge of your life, then you have to decide that you won’t call it quits until you’ve reached your goals.  Even when it’s hard, and you aren’t seeing results as quickly as you’d like.

You have to fully embrace your new purpose of taking charge of your life. If you are hoping for an overnight miracle, you might as well stop reading now. There’s nothing magical about this post, but it will (hopefully) help you develop the mindset and habits you need to make lasting lifestyle changes.


The Challenge of Self-Discipline 

In order to actually make progress toward your goals, you’re going to need a lot of self-discipline. Since changing your habits and your thinking isn’t exactly regulated by anyone else, it’s up to you to keep yourself on track. You have to be able to push yourself forward even when it’s difficult. We often complain about lacking motivation, but I think the underlying problem is discipline. If you have enough discipline, you don’t need motivation. You can just do it.

It’s not uncommon to think that you either have discipline, or you don’t. But I believe that discipline can be learned. The more you practice discipline, the easier it becomes to be disciplined in the future. If you’re disciplined about going running every morning, that will spill over into your budgeting and other unrelated projects.

If you struggle with self-discipline, I think this is closely linked to having a can-do attitude. If you don’t think you can do it, you aren’t going to be able to find the discipline to push yourself toward what you believe to be failure. So first work on becoming more optimistic, and then you can at least say “Let’s find out if I can do it,” instead of “I don’t think I can do it.”


A Delicious Example

A person of discipline understands that if you follow the steps in an apple pie recipe, you’ll ultimately end up with an apple pie. If you follow the steps to reach a goal, you will eventually end up reaching your goal. The time frame and the steps might be different, but the concept is the same.

Imagine you were making that apple pie, and you cut yourself while slicing the apples. Do you give up and throw out all the ingredients you’ve put together? No, you put a bandage on your finger and finish the pie. Quitting halfway would be a waste of your time and money. Not to mention that you won’t end up with a pie.

If you want to reach your goals, you need the discipline to continue in the face of setbacks. Don’t throw away your progress; keep pushing through the obstacles. Discipline is a greater force than frustration.


Discipline Is A Habit

If you want to develop more self-discipline, start making a habit of finishing things. If you have a habit of starting several books before finishing any of them, go back and finish the oldest one first. If you do some of the dishes in the sink but leave the rest for later, start doing the whole batch. Don’t start anything unless you intend to finish it.

Whether it’s a small thing or a big thing, always finish what you start!  This is the most fundamental concept of discipline.

The more you practice finishing things, the harder it will be for you to leave things unfinished in the future. If you started cleaning your room but only did half, go back and finish the job. This is how you are going to develop self-discipline.  Not glamorous, I know — but that’s what it takes!


Unwavering Focus

It goes without saying that you should keep your eyes on the prize. This is a big part of determination: refusing to be distracted by things that are going on around you. You don’t have to change your goals to compete with others. You should focus on doing what you set out to do.

To start, identify what are the things that easily distract you. What derails your focus? What makes you stop what you are doing?

Dogs are easily distracted by squirrels. So do dog trainers try to teach obedience training in the forest? No, the good ones do it somewhere where the dog will be able to pay attention. Is there a TV show that drags you in whenever it comes on? Then don’t work in the same room as the TV. Do you check your smartphone whenever it chimes? Then turn off Facebook notifications so you can get work done. The easiest way to increase your focus is to remove distractions.

This is true for distracting people as well: if there is a friend that constantly gives you negative criticism every time you meet, then stop meeting up with that friend. Constructive criticism is healthy. But for any negative influences that tell you not to try, or you’re not smart enough, or you won’t make it — do what you can to avoid contact with them. They would rather talk about reasons not to do something than actually going and doing that thing. Let them languish while you finish what you started.


Take the Next Step

Let’s review:

  • Can-do attitude
  • Practice discipline
  • Remove distractions

If you focus on these three things, you’ll notice a big difference.

Believe you can do it.  Practice succeeding.  Clear any hindrance from your path.

Determination isn’t something a few lucky people are born with.  It comes from making up your mind and solidifying your purpose.

So take the next step, and elevate your game with these simple concepts.  You’ll reach your goals in no time!