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The REAL Secret

Remember when that book, “The Secret” was so popular? Don’t get me wrong, it has some good stuff in it. I have a copy somewhere. In a nutshell, it’s all about positive thinking and attracting the things you want into your life. I’m all on board for the power of positive thinking. But the real secret has to do with positive ACTING. The REAL secret is discipline.

I’m going to define discipline as doing what will get you closer to your long term goals when you really don’t want to. Exercising when you really want to veg in front of the TV. Studying when you’d rather go out with friends. Saving money instead of buying that cute pair of shoes. Because in the long run, you’d rather be healthy, smart, and rich than fat, stupid, and broke wearing really cute shoes.

You can argue and say, “No, it’s not discipline. It’s luck. Some people just get all the breaks.” If that were the case, so many people who win the lottery wouldn’t wind up bankrupt. You tell me what you want in life and I’ll say applying more discipline will help you get it.

Here’s how to make this work:

1. Decide exactly what you want (to lose weight, be rich, get married, start a business – whatever).

2. Understand what actions have to be taken to get you there. (Eating less, exercising, going on dates with people who are actually available, etc.) If you don’t know exactly what to do, you’ll have to determine that first.

3. Break the action down into a daily (or weekly – whatever time frame makes sense) practice. Running 3 miles a day. Eating only 1600 calories a day. Saving $100 a month.

4. Apply discipline – that’s doing it every day or every month. Now if this was easy, you’d already be doing it, so when you make a mess – assess. (Okay, I’m pulling a Johnnie Cochran here – I want you to remember.) If you make a mess, you must assess. What happened? Was everyone ordering dessert and you gave in to peer pressure? How can you deal with that next time? Order fruit, save up some calories, get new friends? You have to step back and figure out what went wrong.

5. Set yourself up to succeed. When you make a mess (and assess), change what you’re doing. Remove the sweets from your house, cut up the credit cards, etc. Don’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results. Don’t say, “I just need more willpower.” That’s not the issue – keep assessing. Set up a reward system for yourself when you are disciplined. If I make all my sales calls this week, I’ll treat myself to dinner. And guess what? You’ll have enough money for that AND a pair of really cute shoes!

6. Don’t set yourself up to fail. You only have so much discipline – it really does run out. If you managed to ignore the muffins in the break room and dodged the chips at the Mexican restaurant, you might cave in later that night when your roommate wants to order pizza. Bring lunch every day and create a habit you don’t have to think about. No discipline required.

7. Realize the more you practice discipline, the better you’ll get at it. The good news is that discipline is like a muscle – it gets stronger with use. Start going to the gym every day and you may start saving more money. Discipline will enter other areas of your life.

Applying discipline to your challenges will have a greater impact on the quality of your life than anything else. And if you make a mess – you must assess!

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