Encore Episode: How to Develop More Discipline [Podcast]

I am on sabbatical for the next few weeks. While I am gone, I am running a series of “Encore Episodes.” These are my most popular podcasts ever, as measured by number of downloads. Enjoy!

The topic of discipline is always relevant, since most of us struggle to achieve our goals and avoid the distractions of modern life. In this podcast, I share five specific steps to develop more of it.


Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/fotosipsak

If you’re like me, you struggle with discipline. You have great intentions, but just as you get a little momentum, something derails you.

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My friend Andy Andrews asks this question, “Can you make yourself do something you don’t want to do in order to get a result you really want?”

Over the years, I have found that I can become disciplined in any area of my life by taking five specific steps. Whether it is trying to get in shape, maintain a blog, or develop a great marriage, the psychology is the same.

  1. Determine your goal. Your goals need to be S.M.A.R.T. (I have written in-depth about that here.) This is an acronym that provides a checklist for making sure that what you have is indeed a goal and not merely an aspiration. It stands for:
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Actionable
    • Realistic
    • Time-bound
  2. List your reasons
  3. Identify likely obstacles.
  4. Develop new behaviors.
  5. Stay focused.

Listener Questions

  1. Rebecca Livemore asked, “How do you differentiate between a lack of discipline and a legitimate need for rest?”
  2. Brad Blackman asked, “Would you recommend adding only one discipline at a time or is it okay to try and add multiple disciplines?”
  3. Aslam Najeebdeen asked, “I find I often abandon my new habits after four or five days. What are some tips for keeping the new habit going?”
  4. Derek Duncan asked, “As a Christian, how do we allow for grace in the practice of discipline?”
  5.  Julie Welles asked “I’m struggling with my blog. How do you discipline yourself to write so prolifically?”
  6.  Tessa Hartiman asked, “How important is developing discipline for novice writers?”
  7.  Paul Lundberg asked, “I love scheduling and planning. I’m pretty good at planning. But I am not good at all when it comes to executing the day or week I’ve planned. How can I stay more focused on what I have planned to do?”
  8. Todd Liles asked, “How do you discipline yourself when you are absolutely dog-tired?”
  9. Victor Manzanilla asked, “What is a ‘keystone habit’ (a la The Power of Habit) for your spiritual life?”

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Episode Resources

In this episode I mentioned several resources, including:

Show Transcript

You can download a complete, word-for-word transcript of this episode here, courtesy of Ginger Schell, a professional transcriptionist, who handles all my transcription needs.

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Question: Where do you need more discipline? What do you need to do next to cultivate it? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • http://www.alexbarker.org/ Alex Barker

    Can you read minds Michael? Can you see my future? lol
    This is the message I needed to hear (again!). I’ve got so much going on right now. I took your suggestion from an earlier podcast and wake up an hour and half earlier to write and brainstorm. It’s been a huge success! I’m super tired by the end of the day, but my passion for what I’m doing is driving me like I’ve never been driven before!
    Thank you for your continual inspiration

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      Alex, that is a tremendous testimony – very inspiring. Thanks so much for sharing. Any tips you’d share for individuals who might be reading this for the first time?

      • http://www.alexbarker.org/ Alex Barker

        Write down your top priorities (projects, processes, to-do’s)
        Organize them by Importance and Urgency
        Create a week schedule and write down how much time each task will take
        Stick to your plan

        You WILL be amazed how much you will accomplish.

      • http://www.alexbarker.org/ Alex Barker

        Hey Tor, would you be interested in a guest post about being a masterful Father for your blog?

  • Victor Canas

    Just a heads up Michael! Brad Blackman question is not in the podcast. Instead of him talking there just no sound. Thank you for this podcast!

    • James Marler

      Thanks, Victor!

      • Victor Canas

        You are welcome!

  • James Marler

    Hello everyone! I am Michael’s audio editor and I wanted to let you know that thanks to Victor Manus we caught an audio glitch in the assembly of this week’s podcast. The error has been fixed and, if you download the podcast (as opposed to just listening online) you should go ahead and delete the one you got this morning and download the corrected file.
    My apologies for the error.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, James and Victor!

  • http://JonDHarrison.com/ Jon D Harrison

    This is still one of my favorites (and not just because I am mentioned at 38:25). What a great refresher for staying on point – thanks again.

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      Great comment Jon – I think applied discipline is the ultimate catalyst for talent because talent alone is not enough.

  • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

    That question by Andy Andrews is a great touch stone to help focus energy and intention toward a goal.

    One of the psychological “tricks” I try to do with myself is to assign meaning to the task I’m dreading.

    For example, when there are days that I don’t feel like running, I tell myself that every time I run – I’ll be able to dance at my daughters’ weddings respectively.

    That “meaning” makes the temporary pain worthwhile.

    • http://JonDHarrison.com/ Jon D Harrison

      I really like your example -> to make this work, we have to be a clear as we can for what will be possible once we have run the race (pun intended).

    • http://justincarper.com/ Justin Carper

      Thanks for the insight Tor. That will definitely help with my morning routine. (especially the run)

  • http://wikitalks.com/ Maria G.

    Discipline is nothing new to me. I think it’s
    something I live with everyday. My job requires self-discipline and I just try
    to think about my goals and reaching them so that I would be encouraged more. I’m
    just a bit lacking in discipline when it comes to food and healthy eating.

  • http://www.kizi10.info/ Kizi 10

    I think that what you put out pretty good and realistic. Just like what you said, I see it can be done.

  • Leslie Chamberlain

    LOVE the thought of focusing on the result of the discipline and not so much on the discipline itself! After you mentioned this, I realized that is exactly how I feel about preparing to teach in the jail. I tend to put off the task of the study necessary to teach on the topic of choice, but I absolutely love the feeling I get when I complete the actual teaching and see those listening connecting the dots and increasing their understanding. Great advice Michael!