I’ve been reading a lot of articles about self-discipline.

(Full Transparency: It is infinitely easier to read about self-discipline than to practice self-discipline.)

So, in the spirit of taking one for the team, I have been actually practicing some of the techniques proven to help us put one foot in front of the other to achieve our goals to see how they work.

Because I know if I can do it, you can do it.

And surprise.

They work.

But it’s not easy. (But it does get a little easier with time.)

Most of us launch into a full-blown life-changing goal with the idea that we are going to massively change our lives TODAY.

As in, right now.

We are so excited to start that we try and change up 10 to 20 things to make it happen faster.

For example; let’s take a goal to get healthier.

We make grand plans that we are going to work out at 5:30 am every morning, for an hour. We want to completely change our diet and include no junk food, no soda, and no wine. On top of that, we pledge to meditate every day and start journaling feelings of gratitude every night! We are going to be the healthiest person on the planet!!!

Sounds like a great plan, right?

Except that by day two, we have already hit the snooze button on the alarm, sneak a candy bar in after 4 pm and decide that today was just to difficult to go with no wine.

Our intentions were great, our self-discipline, not so much.

Here are 5 Proven Tricks to Help You Master the Art of Self-discipline

1. Start Small.  Choose one to-do to add to your routine that moves you toward the goal at a time. Our self-discipline reserves drop the more changes we want to add. Try the 5:30 am workout 3 days a week to start. Pick out your workout clothes and sneakers the night before and lay them next to your bed. When the alarm goes off, roll over and slide them on. Once the first step is done it is easiest to follow through.

2. Know Your Weaknesses. If you are NOT a morning person, maybe the 5:30 am workout time is not the best time to choose. Altering your body rhythms and adding in a new behavior are two changes, not one. If you prefer to workout in the early evening or after dinner, schedule your new workout habit then.

3. Pay Attention to HALT Cues. First and foremost, we are human beings. If we are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired (HALT) our ability to do the hard things decreases. If you find yourself falling off the discipline wagon (or wanting to) ask yourself if you are experiencing any of those four sensations or emotions. Talking yourself through a biological dip (or helping to fix it with a snack) is easier when you are aware of what is driving the excuses.

4. Get an Accountability Partner. There is a reason there are coaches in this world. Sometimes we all need someone to direct us to do the right thing at the right time even when we don’t feel like it. Choose someone who you will listen to and appreciate the push from. (Maybe your spouse is not the best option.)  You will not likely get as grumpy with a neutral friend or co-worker who is “checking in” on your progress.

5. Just Do-It for 10 minutes. This is my favorite hack because it works extremely well for me. Discipline yourself to just do whatever it is you need to do for 10 minutes. If at the 10-minute mark, you are just not “feeling it” give yourself permission to stop. Chances are you are in the groove of getting done what you need to get done and will continue on. If not, 10 minutes of something is better than zero minutes of nothing. You will have moved one step closer to staying consistent with your actions and helping to grow your self-discipline muscle.

Self-discipline is the secret sauce to moving your goals forward. Building self-discipline is like a muscle. The more you practice, consistently, the faster that skill set builds. Committing to yourself, one small step at a time, one day at a time, builds the momentum for small changes to become larger completed goals.

And PS.

This blog was completed using the 10-minute technique…go try it today!