“I am never going to be able to make that change.”
“It’s just how I am.”
“Why is self-discipline is hard for me?”
This is just a sample of what I hear from clients, and, truthfully, from my own head at times. Change is hard. And changing yourself is more difficult because there is no one we are accountable to for the changes we want to make in our own lives.
Except ourselves. To make changes in our lives we have to figure it out for ourselves.
So here is the hack you need to have to get on the self-discipline bandwagon:
Talk to yourself.
Talk to yourself, and be your own coach.
We have all heard the ad asking, “Do you want to be your own boss?” followed by the pitch for some new sales or franchise strategy.
You already are your own boss.
But what kind of boss are you?
· Are you a mean boss, giving yourself a healthy measure of judgment and shame every day?
· Are you an absent boss, never showing up to check in and see how things are going?
· Are you a creative boss, offering so many ideas but no direction?
· Are you a naysayer boss, killing off your own ideas before you ever get started?
· Are you an easy boss, giving yourself a pass every time you don’t keep a commitment you have made?
We all have a voice inside our head that can be used for good or ill.
Here is step one in how to become your own best boss:
1. Talk to yourself.
Step two is pay attention to how you talk to yourself.
And when you do,
Ø Be direct.
Ø Be positive.
Ø Be specific. And here this where the magic is:
Ø Speak in the present tense.
Let’s say you want to exercise more. Talk to yourself about it. Use action words, be encouraging, be very specific, and speak as though it is happening now.
“I am going to the gym.” Is different from “I am working out at the gym,” or “I am going to exercise more this year.” Saying “I am going to the gym,” even if it is not currently true helps our mind work with us not against us.
If you say, “I am going to the gym.” Your brain will start thinking of all the obstacles in the way of you going to the gym.
If you say, “I am working out at the gym.” Your brain will notice that you are not at the gym and start figuring out how to get you there. You get bonus points if you say, “I am working out at the gym now.”
So let’s say you want a new habit of preparing your reports earlier so you are not rushed with deadlines.
Try starting the day with, “I am writing the report.” Even if what you are doing is driving the car to work.
A funny thing starts to happen when we talk to ourselves like this. After you say those words to yourself a few times, your mind will start thinking about the report: how it needs to be composed, what the main ideas are. And when you park your car you often find you have an outline, or have remembered that you still need Bob’s data. Your subconscious mind has helped you write the report.
How we talk to ourselves matters. I invite you to think about what you really want to accomplish this year. Create an active, positive, present tense, specific statement about what you intend to accomplish. Then, repeat it frequently.
And when you find that you are doing what you said you would do, be a great boss and congratulate yourself for a job well done.