The moment you achieve a goal – a tough goal – a confidence appears that you never knew existed. It changes who you are. It makes you believe in yourself in a way that nothing else could. Anything becomes possible because that goal, you never thought was possible, you crushed! Nothing can get in the way of your dreams because you learned to look inward to make dreams a reality.
I know this because it happened to me. In the last 5 years I’ve achieved 2 major goals and life hasn’t been the same since.
First, I changed my lifestyle. I went from overweight, sluggish, tired, and unhappy to healthy, positive, and in love with the life I created. Sure some months are better than others. I still have moments of stress, binge on chocolate and fries, and feel sorry for myself. Hello, I’m human. However, I bounce back faster than I did in the past and lean on healthier habits (more than the chocolate) when life gets overwhelming. I’ve sustained my new healthy lifestyle for 5+ years. This took a lot of work, focus, and time to achieve and I’m very proud of it.
Second, I turned Organize Yourself Skinny into a successful business. After 3 years of blogging I started to make enough money to quit a great paying state job that included a pension and benefits. Yup, I still pinch myself. More important than the money is the freedom I found working for myself. Now I can be there for my girls and do the things that are important to me. All while still making money.
Organize Yourself Skinny gives me the opportunity to talk with people from all over the world. I share my experiences and knowledge to hopefully inspire others to make positive changes in their lives. I can’t put a price on that. It means the world to me when someone lets me know his or her life has changed because of Organize Yourself Skinny. Creating my once little blog into a thriving business, and keeping it that way, is not an easy feat. But I set that goal, believed I could do it, did it, and continue to do it! You can read more about my business journey here.
Accomplishing both goals completely changed my life. I bring up my business, in addition to losing weight, because while the 2 goals are different it took a lot of discipline and many of the same habits to make both a reality. Basically, I learned if I could achieve one big goal I can achieve them all. I just need to want it, create discipline, stay focused, and keep going.
Changing your life and achieving goals requires changing your habits. Different results don’t magically appear one day. If you want different you have to do different. If you want to make big changes in your life, or achieve large goals, you need to change your habits and the things you do on a daily basis. For most of us, that’s not easy to do. We are all creatures of habit and we like things that are comfortable. So to step outside of that comfort zone, and stay there, takes discipline and work. Discipline means doing what you need to do when it’s not what you want to do. That’s when change happens.
Just so you know, I’m not naturally a disciplined person. In fact, I struggle a lot with focus and sometimes it takes me a long time to do things that others can do quickly. I get distracted very easily and lose motivation quick. I think it’s important to mention this because I often get “I wish I can be more disciplined like you” comments from people. But the truth is I’m more of a hot mess person who has to work at being disciplined. Some of my closest friends question how I even get out of the house with my sneakers tied. I wonder the same thing. Ha! So if I can do this so can you.
Yes I’m an airhead. Yes I get distracted easily. Yes I like Netflix. But the good news is I wanted to lose weight, and start a business, more than I wanted Netflix. Once my mind was set on those goals I knew I needed to be intentional with the way I created discipline in my life. The strategies I talk about below work for me and I continue to use them to stay disciplined, focused, motivated, and moving forward on my goals.
When talking about the strategies I use to create discipline in my life I’m going to focus more on weight loss instead of starting a business. Most people find their way to my blog to lose weight and not necessarily to achieve their business goals. However, like I said, these strategies can help create discipline and achieve goals in all areas of your life, not just losing weight. So if you want to start a blog, build it into a profitable business and quit your day job, then these strategies will help do that. You can also read here for more of my blogging tips.
Each one of these strategies has become quite powerful in creating discipline and changing my lifestyle. For a very long time falling short on my weight loss goals held me back. Not because I wanted to be skinny, a size 0, or prancing around in a bikini. It held me back because I knew I could do better. I knew I had it in me to make healthier choices so I could feel better about myself and look better.
Some of the strategies are very specific action-based while others are a little bit more general. However, each one is intended to help YOU create an environment that supports a lifestyle change. Each strategy serves a purpose.
#1. List out smaller specific goals
I’m a big picture person. I like to think of my life 5-10 years down the road. However, it’s very easy to let the years go by and 5 years later not even be close to achieving your dreams or goals. Been there. It’s not that you didn’t want those goals to happen but most big goals need smaller specific goals first.
It’s easy to say “I want to lose 60 pounds”. But then what? The weight is not going to magically disappear because you set that goal. I wish. Losing 60lbs (the big goal) is the result of achieving smaller specific goals. For example, a smaller goal to help you achieve the larger of goal of 60lbs, could be better hydration. So say something like “this week I’m going to drink 64 ounces of water a day and drink 4 smoothies”. Or another smaller goal could be portion control so you can say “this week I’m going to track my food using My Fitness Pal”. Specific smaller goals are easier to measure and achieve. If you keep setting and achieving smaller goals then over time your 60lb goal will become a reality.
I do encourage everyone to dream big, but to turn those dreams into reality will require small specific goals and focusing on your daily habits. What are you doing every single day to achieve those smaller goals? Focusing on the everyday habits, while still keeping your eye on the prize, is where the magic happens.
#2. Go to a therapist
Sorry, I know this might be coming out of left field but I feel relatively confident saying that the biggest obstacle we face in life is ourselves. We all have junk in our heads holding us back from being the best versions of us. Think about it? When you feel unfocused, out of control, or can’t seem to break bad habits it’s most likely because of a stressful situation going on in your world. I think stress is the #1 reason people get off track with their weight loss goals. We talk a lot about this in the Organize Yourself Skinny Facebook Group. I’m not judging because believe me I’ve been there too. But here’s the thing, stress is going to happen whether you like it or not. You can’t control everything. I tried it’s not possible. If you head down a bad path every time stress comes your way then you need to make a change in the way you deal with stress.
The best thing you can do to live a healthy happy full life is learning to cope with stress in a positive way. Read that again because it’s important! When life throws you junk you want to get better not bitter. When your head is healthy you can create discipline easier in your life.
I go to a therapist and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. She helps me work through the good and the bad. Some days I talk about heavy stuff and other days I run business decisions past her and share my accomplishments. It’s nice to have an unbiased person there to help me cope with everything life throws my way. If you don’t have access to a therapist then try talking to someone at your church or check out counseling services provided at work. Seek someone out that’s not your mom or best friend because as supportive as they might be you won’t get the unbiased feedback you need.
When you can free your mind of junk, and cope better with stress, you’re able to focus better on making a healthy lifestyle a priority. Healthy mind = healthy body.
#3. Get rid of the junk
Now lets talk about the real physical junk. Clutter creates confusion and it’s very hard to create change in your life when you are living in chaos. Prior to making changes to your habits I highly recommend taking the time to rid yourself of all the distracting clutter.
In my experience environment plays a large role in the amount of discipline I can create in my life. I cannot function in chaos or as I like to call it the “hot zone”. When you’re in the hot zone essentially you’re just trying to survive. The house is a mess, you’re running late, the kids are screaming and fighting nonstop, you can’t find anything, there’s nothing to eat for dinner, and the list goes on. Obviously, these things happen but if you find you’re living in the “hot zone” more often than not then it’s time for a change.
It’s very difficult to create discipline when living day to day in the “hot zone”. A few years ago, I read Sink Reflections by The Fly Lady and started to follow her principles to keep my home tidy, clutter free, and organized. Up until then I was a hot mess. My girls were little, I worked 40+ hours a week, and I was basically surviving from morning to night. It was overwhelming. I put her principles in place and found I could focus much better when my home was in order. After that is when the fog lifted and I started creating discipline with food, exercise, and lifestyle.
I often hear that when people start removing clutter from their homes they actually start to feel the clutter removed from their lives. That was my experience and now I make it a priority to keep my home in order. Trust me, I’m not a neat freak but I do take time to clean and organize. I’m happier and as a result I stay focused on my goals. I believe there is definitely a tie between mental stability and physical environment.
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#4. Get real with yourself.
In my ecourse, and on my blog, I talk about creating accountability systems. These systems help you get real with what’s going on in your life. They help you take a look at what’s working and what needs to change.
To get started with your weight loss journey, I recommend stepping on the scale and taking a picture of yourself. Then start tracking your food, exercise, and water (I use My Fitness Pal). Those first couple days might be shocking, I know they were for me. I was shocked by the amount of calories I ate everyday. I thought I was healthy but I guess I should’ve known one does not gain 60lbs by eating broccoli all day. Nope, I was eating over 3000 calories a day and it wasn’t from vegetables. I also thought a leisurely walk twice a month was enough. Actually, in my mind I was exercising a lot more but when I started to track I found out I wasn’t the athlete I thought. Oops.
I had to get real with the person I became. I needed to face the horrible habits I created over the last couple decades. I couldn’t look at the scale, and in the mirror, and deny the reasons I got to that point.
Getting real is scary but necessary. Denial is fierce. It can truly make you think it’s everyone’s else fault but your own. But the truth is the only person that can control you is you. Own it and then you can change it!
#5. Create a plan and write it down
The power of a plan! Success does not happen without a written plan. Nobody wakes up in the morning; snaps their fingers, and life changes. Sorry, it doesn’t happen that way. You must create a plan. Not just a general plan but an action-based plan for each area of your life you want to change. It doesn’t need to be long and complicated but you should think it through and write it down.
When starting your weight loss journey you will obviously need a plan for food and exercise. Start by asking yourself these questions:
- What food am I going to eat?
- When will I go grocery shopping?
- What foods will I prep ahead of time and when will I make the time to do this?
- What will my exercise routine look like?
- When will I exercise?
Create a plan around those questions. ** If meal planning sends you over the edge then I highly recommend checking out Plan to Eat. This website gives you the tools to organize all your recipes, create a fast weekly menu, and generate a grocery list based on your menu. It’s a fantastic timesaving website.
Also, I brought up the benefits of having a tidy house so you want to create a plan around that too. Basically, you want to create plans that will keep you out of the “hot zone” and focused on your goals.
Don’t get overwhelmed by plans. At first it seems like a lot as you overhaul areas of your life but once you have systems in place everything becomes routine and a natural fit to your lifestyle.
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#6. Wake up early
I know everyone has different schedules, and this might not be possible for some, but if you can wake up early I think it’s helpful. Morning is a good time to reflect and prepare. I use my mornings to get work done, exercise, and relax a little. When I make it a priority to get up early I’m always more productive and better disciplined throughout the day. If I wake up late I’m rushing around and don’t feel prepared for the day.
I believe making healthy good choices when you first wake up will trickle down throughout the day. Basically, how I start my day is usually the same way I end it.
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#7. Do not get comfortable
This last strategy is so important but often forgot about until it’s too late. Do not get comfortable in your habits and routines. Yes things will get easier because you are getting better. But I think it’s easy to fall back into old habits even if those habit brought pain and unhappiness. Those habits are comforting and served a purpose at one point.
Remember you worked hard to change yourself and environment. Maybe you started therapy, cleaned out your house, started to meal plan and meal prep every week. You did everything you were supposed to do. However, it’s likely the people, places, and things that surround us most likely didn’t change. That’s where it gets hard. You need to learn to function and thrive despite many things staying the same.
Also, don’t get comfortable with yourself. Yes be content and grateful for the new fabulous person you’ve become but always set goals and work towards improving yourself. That’s what will keep you moving forward.
I truly believe that every single person has it in them to create discipline in their life and make the changes they need to become a better version of themselves. For some that’s easy to do, but for most of us it takes a lot of work. Don’t focus on the work. Make small changes and just get started. Soon those little changes will equal big results. When you start to see the results of your disciplined lifestyle you will want to keep going. I know you can do this because I did it. I believe in you, and as soon as you start to set and achieve goals, you will too.
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