We all know that discipline is about small habits, practiced consistently, over time.

So what’s the problem? Why is discipline hard?

Because, while those small habits are super easy to do, it’s just as easy to not to do them.

These small habits will help you reach huge goals, but…”there’s always tomorrow”…”I’ll start on Monday”…you know how it goes.

Sure it’s easy to not do it, but you’re about to have a plan.  A plan of discipline that you’re going to stick with.  So we’re done talking about not doing – it’s time to talk about doing.

Start With What’s Easy

You’re about to make a list.  A list of disciplines that you want in your life.

Discipline sounds difficult, doesn’t it?  Just hearing the word “discipline” can so quickly bring you back to that failed running habit you tried to start a few years ago.

Discipline doesn’t have to mean difficult.  In fact, if you want to stay disciplined, it needs to be easy.

It can get tough later, but wait until what’s tough now becomes easy later.

With any new discipline or habit, start off easy.  As Leo Babauta says, “so easy you can’t say no”.  Before we move on, remember, start small – start easy.

Your Five Things

Here’s how this works.  Write down five things you want to accomplish in the next year (as in, from today to 12 months from today).

These need to be specific and measurable things.  Such as:

  • Run a marathon
  • Lose 50 pounds
  • Read 20 books
  • Deadlift 600 pounds
  • Read the entire Bible

Those are fairly large goals…you will only want to include two or three of that stature.  The other two or three should be easier – smaller numbers/less time consuming.

If your goal isn’t an action, you’ll need to decide your actions beforehand.  For example, if your goal is to lose 50 pounds, you can decide to do cardio 5 days/week and eat mindfully 6 days/week. Those will be come the trackable items.

Now that you have your list, let’s take action…

Your Five-Thing Action Plan

You’ve got your five things.  You know what you want.  And you’re about to get it, but first, let’s do some math.

Pick the easiest one to look at first.  Now, you’ve got 12 months to make this happen.  365 days.  8,760 hours.

This is about to get really easy…

For daily goals (reading, weight-loss, etc.), divide by 365.  So if you want to read 20 books, that’s about 1/20th of a book per day, which comes out to 10-15 pages/day. If you want to lose 50 pounds, that’s about 1/10th of a pound per day, which would more easily translate to about a pound per week (we’re overshooting here).

For goals that aren’t daily, you’ll just have to figure out how many total days you have within the year.  For example, if you’re going to lift weights 3 days/week, that’s about 156 lifting days between now and your goal date.  So then you just have to count backwards.  In this example, you would start with your goal weight and take off 10 pounds/week until we get back to today.  Usually with weight lifting, you can just start with the 45lb bar.

That’s it. This couldn’t be any easier, but it works. Let’s recap:

  • Come up with 5 goals that you want to accomplish with one year
  • Break them down into daily/weekly increments of actionable tasks
  • Work diligently on them. Stay consistent with the small habits that reach the goal

Just remember, you should only have 5 for now. At least two of them should be easy.