In the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle change, many of us are able to find enough motivation to be inspired enough to get the ball rolling on whatever goal we have set out for ourselves. However, when the initial inspiration wears off, it is often difficult to muster up the ability to say no to the things or activities we know better than to participate in.

There are many factors as to why we engage in unhealthy behaviors, including but not limited to: genetics, brain chemistry, and environmental influences (such as the media and people we surround ourselves with). While we can’t always control these things there is one factor that is always under our control.

That factor is our choices. We have the ability to DECIDE what to do when we encounter one of our problem areas in life. It is that moment when you think about that piece of cake or that cigarette or (insert your vice here) that we have the choice: Do I engage in this regressive behavior or will I put my energy into any other activity that will put me closer to where I want to be? Read our guide: “How To: Self Control” below.

The power to choose

Remind yourself often that you hold power in your choices. The most important daily choice we can make is to be positive. When you choose to be positive; have positive intentions, actions, and thoughts, these will charge you and provide energy. Negative ones will drain you.

In fact, complaining and being negative in general are tell-tale signs of how ungrateful one is. Because we are human, we are able to envision how to improve nearly any situation we are in, regardless of how good and bountiful it is. This helps drive and propel us forward, inventing new things to make life more enjoyable and convenient.

But when we choose a negative perspective over a positive one it can become a self-fullfilling prophecy. We need to be able to flip that mind-set before it takes hold. The best way to do that is through action. I have talked extensively in other posts about having a vision and an associated plan. I encourage you to develop you vision and plan and use it to initiate action and turn your perspective around!

Flex the muscle

There is this little muscle sometimes known as discipline. Yea that’s right, it’s a muscle. I know I am not that first person to refer to discipline this way, perhaps that’s because it is the best and only way to view it if you want to have more of it!

The discipline as a muscle analogy is fantastic because just like a muscle, discipline must flexed, stretched and used regularly in order to be effective when you need it the most. A good example of this is when you’re trying to make a huge change in a particular area, lets use food as our placeholder. If the goal is to eat better in general but you’ve been eating nothing but junk fast food for the past 7 years it will be very difficult for you to go buy nothing but whole food and change all your eating habits overnight. It’s the same as playing soccer a couple times as a child then expect to play the World Cup in your 30s.

It works the opposite way as well. Everytime we fail to use our discipline muscle, it gets weaker. This is especially true when we say we are doing to do/not do something and end up not following through. These losses accumulate over time and can have a detrimental effect not only on our ability to use self-discipline, but also our self-esteem.

Having a vision and taking action with a plan is the best way to build yourself up and become the person you want to be. Set yourself up with easy to accomplish tasks that can help you build the momentum to accomplish even bigger tasks, and so on and so forth.

The Path

When you spend your energy focused on obtaining and acquiring what you wish to possess, you will never have it! The real victory, the true success is accomplishing what needs to be done regardless of the obstacles and excuses you put in your own way. When you realize that the only way to becoming the person you want to be isn’t having this or that, but rather to be, on a daily basis, the type of person that embodies the values you wish you have.

It is all about BEING and BECOMING, not about HAVING and ACQUIRING. Develop a daily process for yourself and take pride in its accomplishment. Allow the work itself to be the gift, not its end result. If you fall into the trap of coveting the end result you will never be satisfied. When you find satisfaction in the work, you won’t live one day unfulfilled.

The missing ingredient

If work is the gift then leisure is the enemy. This often means you will no longer seek or find pleasure in material things. Instead, our time spent outside of the work should be of inward reflection, cultivating a positive mindset, and building relationship with those you love.

Show our creator that you are grateful for life today by putting the work in to accomplish the purpose for your life! Spend time getting to know your purpose through inward reflection and realize it through daily action. Consistent, imperfect action over time cannot be underestimated.

If you follow the plan i have outlined here on you will see that all these things are intimately connected to one another and your personal growth.

Don’t forget to remember

Some of us have memories that aren’t quite what they used to be and in the heat of the moment, it can be easy to become overwhelmed by your temptation if your discipline muscle hasn’t been flexed in a while. It can be beneficial when beginning to leave reminders and encouragement for yourself in obvious places you will encounter it.

This could be a post-it not on your bathroom mirror, changing your phone background, setting alarms to remind yourself and using or withholding things you enjoy from yourself as a reward or punishment for your own behavior.

Thanks for reading! Let me know in the comments below what methods of self-control you have had the most success with!