by Michael C. Evans
What is self-discipline? The dictionary defines self-discipline as “Training and control of oneself and one’s conduct, usually for personal improvement.” Self-discipline is about practicing good habits. You establish habits, good and bad, by doing the same things over and over. We develop habits starting as children, and the saying “can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is a lie. You can change your habits by making different choices. Everyone here has freewill. We all get to make choices throughout the day about our thoughts, behavior, actions and words. You control your actions and reactions. So how do you develop the will power to practice good habits? How do you develop self-discipline?
Get a good support system. A support system consists of people and activities in an environment that helps you with your daily habits. So once you develop your goals and identify the daily habits you need to perform to achieve your goals, then you must develop or join an appropriate support system. You can try to change or develop new habits by yourself, and some of us can be successful that way, but why? Human beings are social beings by our nature. We were created to interact with each other. So take advantage of that. You don’t have to do it by yourself. But you do need to do it with the right people around you and in the right environment.
If want to change your drinking habits, do you hang out with alcoholics at the local bar? You surround yourself with people who practice the same type of habits you want to practice. If your habit is to exercise, you may hang out with people who are in the habit of exercising or go to the gym. I personally hate going to the gym, but I love going walking at the mall in the morning before it opens. I might join other people who practice that habit and form a walking group.
I can’t emphasize how important it is to be around people who practice the same habits you want to practice. The right group of people supporting each other in the right environment will change your life. There’s a reason why parents warn their children about the “friends” they associate with. The people you are around the most have the biggest influence on your life: what you believe, how you think, what you do and what you say. Hang around positive people and you will tend to think positive. Hang around negative people and you will tend to think negative. This is not written in stone, but it’s important to have the right type of people around you in the right environment when you are changing old habits or starting new ones.
Turn your habits into rituals. You’ve heard the saying that practice makes perfect? Well it’s true. You have to practice habits in order for them to become habits. It doesn’t happen overnight and it’s not necessarily going to be easy. But this is where developing a daily schedule and the support group comes into play. Schedule time each day to perform your new habit and schedule to meet regularly with your support group. Over time your habit will become second nature.
Structure in your daily routine is essential. It doesn’t mean being perfect, doesn’t mean not having any variation in your life, or not having any creativity. Creativity gives birth to your daily routines and habits. You have to be committed, consistent, and hold yourself accountable. This is why it’s so important to associate yourself with people who share your habit.
Now you may say this sounds all good on theory and on paper, but I don’t know if I’m strong enough to actually do it. Well I’m here to tell you that you can. Take the following four steps and you can do what God has in store for your life.
- Have Faith in God and in yourself. We are spiritual beings here on earth as human beings for just a fraction of our Spirit’s existence. The Spirit is of God, and since the Spirit dwells in you, God dwells in you. And if God can do all things, then the Spirit can do all things, for God has given the Spirit power and authority
- Believe It. If you have Faith in Step 1, then Believe it and live as if it is so. Walk, talk and act in Faith. That is Believing.
- Declare It. Our words have power. You must say out loud what you Believe and that you are going to perform your habit. Say it multiple times throughout the day. This helps condition your mind to perform the habit. Make your Declaration when you are with your support group. You will be surprised by the reaction and the impact that this has on the group. Once you perform your habit, Declare out loud that you did it just as you Believed and said you would. Declaration is the key to forming new habits and having them become second nature.
- Do It. Now do it. Don’t make excuses, don’t put it off. You have the Faith, you Believe, It, and you’ve Declared It. There is nothing stopping you but yourself.
The important thing to remember is take life one day at a time. Each morning is a new day and a new gift from God (that’s why it’s called the Present). Take the opportunity each day to perform your new habits, to live your life as the Holy Spirit moves you. Every day won’t be perfect and you may stumble along the way, but remember these steps and that God has Unconditional Love for you. God’s Love never changes; it’s constant and forever. The only things that change are the choices we make. Please make the choice to practice self-discipline so that you perform good habits to fully reach your Godly potential, and develop a closer personal relationship with God.
Remember to Believe It, Declare It, and Do It! Amen and God Bless