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Achieving Discipline in Both Your Career and Your Life

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By Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt
Faculty Member, Transportation and Logistics, American Public University

Discipline is for doers. Sounds easy, right?

There is no clear-cut path to discipline, but discipline breeds success. Success looks different to everyone, but there are some fundamental principles that everyone needs in order to succeed. One of these principles is discipline, defined by Merriam-Webster as “the motivation to adhere to a routine, schedule or mindset in ever-changing times.”

Discipline Involves Different Areas of Your Life

Discipline involves various areas of your life, such as your career, health, finance and mindfulness. Clinical psychologist Cliff Battley states, “Put simply, self-discipline says, I will do what I should do, when I should do it, whether I feel like it or not. Your self-confidence and belief in your ability to get on with the challenges of life is entirely dependent upon your capacity for self-discipline. It means you will happily commit to short-term pain for long-term gain. It means you can delay immediate gratification because you are determined to achieve your future goals.”

Likewise, the lack of discipline can take many forms, ranging from the temptation to settle for mediocrity to making excuses and having an inability to be optimistic about the future.

Also, discipline is the ability to make a positive change that affects you, your career and your world in a flexible manner. Flexibility means understanding that the future will continue to change at a fast pace.

Becoming a Strategic Doer through Discipline

I am the first to admit that discipline doesn’t sound like fun. It initially sounds like boxing yourself into a rigid routine of performing mundane tasks. Writing down joys, goals and aspirations is half the battle, but executing these activities takes discipline.

While the end result of all your planning is rarely a carbon copy of your original plan, writing down your goals in chunks — such as three months, six months, one year, three years, five years and 10 years — can enable you to achieve success.

Writing is the first step, followed by action as the second step. The quicker you take action and make adjustments to move forward, the quicker you define the critical path to career and life success. Success can take the form of realizing and surmounting challenges, developing habits that become lifestyle choices, and stretching yourself to overcome fear, failure, and fatigue.

Your Mindset Is Important to Your Success

Augusta Chronicle contributor Brett Smith observes that “Everything starts in the mind. Art, science, conversation, writing, movement and inventions all begin as a thought before they are ever materialized into existence. Your life starts in your mind as well. Motivation and self-discipline are manifestations of your thoughts that produce actions which lay the foundation to build and change your life.”

Discipline means having the right mindset, because the brain can be trained in both positive or negative ways. Having a habit around what you want to achieve will reduce your anxiety and increase the chance of success.

Drive and Discipline Go Hand in Hand

Drive and discipline go hand in hand. Having the will to move forward, no matter what, takes guts and drive. Have you ever said, “I don’t want to do something,” but you do it anyway? Have you ever pushed yourself toward a goal, despite your inner self suggesting otherwise?

Discipline Means Consistency

Boldness means having a consistency to do the same thing after day after day. Discipline should not be your only tool to develop consistency. It’s important to remember that:

Can Discipline Be Freeing?

Pay the price of discipline or pay the consequence of living with regret: the choice is yours. Discipline means goal setting, developing self-love, enabling personal goals and simply winning based on your own terms.

When your goal involves others or is beyond your own motives, it has the inevitable effect to propel you forward. Different levels of achievement involve a positive mindset, specific goals and effort.

So what are you going to do today to become more disciplined?

About the Author

Dr. Kandis Y. Boyd Wyatt, PMP, is a professor at American Public University and has 20 years of experience managing projects that specialize in supply chain management. She holds a B.S. in meteorology and an M.S. in meteorology and water resources from Iowa State University, as well as a D.P.A. in public administration from Nova Southeastern University.

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