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How to maintain discipline and positive habits

Know your goals: If you’re studying for an exam, ask yourself what you’ll get from passing

Driving by throngs of runners in the final stages of training for Monday’s race, it seems fitting to be thinking about commitment.

Last week I promised to share some tips for building self-discipline and making it easier to commit to and maintain the positive habits we want for ourselves. For whatever it is you really want to do:

1. Know why you want it.

Ask the question, ‘What is this going to give me?’ For example, if you’re studying for an exam, ask what you’ll get from passing.

The likely answer is a higher designation/versatility and employability. But don’t stop there, go all the way to the top. What will that give me? A potential promotion and pay rise. What will that give me? More money to support my family and good times. What will that give me? A deep sense of satisfaction and achievement. What will that give me? Fulfillment and happiness. Keying into our top values achievable through this one commitment gives our actions more meaning. Suddenly it seems like a no-brainer to hit the books!

2. Remember what it is you want.

Back in my 20s I used to smoke. Luckily I realised that wasn’t a habit worth keeping, so I quit. I’d been doing well, three weeks without a puff, and then one night in a bar (back when you could smoke in a bar) someone offered a cigarette and so instinctive was the habit that it was in my mouth and lit before I could remember I’d given up!

Reminding ourselves of our goals and commitments keeps them alive whether it’s notes around the house/office, a relevant picture in the car or even anchored to something about our person. A recent Mother’s Day present of a bracelet serves as the perfect reminder that I am committed to being a patient, loving parent even in moments I might otherwise forget!

3. Practise building habits and start small.

Self-discipline is just creating positive habits (derived the same way as the bad ones) through repetition and reinforcement. An article I read recently suggested we start with a glass of water. Commit to drinking a glass of water first thing every morning for 30 days. Don’t tell anyone you’re doing it — it’s your personal project, the accountability and benefits are yours.

When you’ve been consistent for one month, you have proven you have self-discipline and will have created a fledgling habit, easy to maintain. Find small actions that contribute to what it is you want to commit to and start there.

Every day that we take a step towards what we do want, is a win. And through those actions we turn our chosen commitments into the fabric of our identity.

Happy Bermuda Day everyone.

• Julia Pitt is a trained success coach and certified NLP practitioner on the team at Benedict Associates. For further information contact Julia on (441) 705-7488, www.juliapittcoaching.com.