What are the best ways to develop self-discipline?


A recent Quora question asked, “What are the best ways to develop self-discipline?” Check out the response from Starleigh Grass, a teacher. Add your own self-discipline methods in the comments.

SMART goals are a popular way to develop self-discipline. The gist of the acronym is:

S - Specific - I'm going to be a writer is a crappy goal because it's too general. I'm going to write for ten minutes every day or I'm going to write seven pages a week is a better goal because you can actually tell whether or not you're reaching your goal. 

M- Measurable - If your goal is measurable then you can check whether or not you've accomplished it. Otherwise you have this free floating anxiety about whether or not you are reaching your goal and it's easy to lose motivation. 

A - Accountable - Build in some sort of accountability. For example, I'm going to this much by this time and if I get it done I'm going to treat myself to a new pair of shoes and if I don't get it done then I'm going to ground myself for a day and try to get it done. Telling other people about your goals, in person or using social media, is also an effective way to increase your accountability. 

R - Realistic - I'm going to write the great American novel in 60 days is a bad goal because it's unrealistic. If you set unrealistic goals you'll quickly get discouraged (for good reason). If you're setting out on a large task do some research about how long it usually takes people to accomplish the goal and what sort of daily time commitment they require. Using the info you've gathered from their experiences, design your own experience. And don't be competitive about it! Don't feel like you have to do things faster than others. Really, you want to do things better

T - Timely - Set a time period for yourself to achieve a goal, and as you progress you can check your progress. If you're half way through your time period stop and check whether or not your half way to your goal. If not, step up the pace! 

Take whatever your ambition is and break it down into several SMART goals, then do the SMART goals in progression. For example, if you want to be a doctor you'd start with short term goals by saying "I'm going to get at least a 3.75 GPA this semester," or "I'm going to attend all study groups this month." You might have a long term goal in mind, "I'm going to open the best pediatric clinic on the eastern seaboard" but you'd work on smaller SMART goals in order to get there. 

Good luck!

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