Why It’s Not Discipline You Need… Try This Instead

Let’s talk about discipline. Chances are, you’ve come across that word a time or two. 

Discipline has become one of those words thrown around so much that it’s become synonymous with willpower: we all want it, and we all complain (especially when things don’t go our way) that we don’t have enough of it. 

But here’s a hard truth about discipline: it’s not something that we need.

And if you think about it after reading on, I bet you’ll agree.

Have you ever met someone that you feel has a lot of discipline, all of the time? Or have you ever seen someone on social media that appears to be doing all of these great, goal-specific things and have thought to yourself, “Wow! They’re doing so much! They must be super disciplined!”

Let me ask you this: would you want to hang out with someone who’s disciplined all of the time? Someone who’s so disciplined, so deadset in their ways, that they can’t stray from their schedule even for a moment?

I’ll tell you something; I sure don’t! Being disciplined 100% of the time sounds boring if I’m totally honest. How can one possibly make time for fun if their schedule is so regimented for discipline’s sake?

This week on Episode 152 of Productivity Paradox, I talked with Stacy, a busy career woman, all about recovering once we’ve veered off the path in pursuit of our goals. And in the second half of the show, I dove deep into the idea of discipline–and why it’s not at all what you need if you want to succeed.

Today, I want to carry that conversation about discipline over here to make sure that we’re covering all of the bases this week. Because, to me, discipline is one of those words that has a cult following, and it’s high time that it stops!

So, let’s take a look at three simple ways that we can still achieve our goals, but without getting hung up on needing more and more discipline. 

Let’s dive in!


3 Simple Ways to Achieve Your Goals


Focus on Goal-Oriented Activities –

I know, I know, this one sounds pretty vague, but hear me out.

Any step toward a goal, whether big or small, is still a step forward. This idea is key when I say that it isn’t getting more discipline that you need to focus on, but goal-oriented activities that you can turn into habits instead.

If you’ve ventured off the path, like Stacy on Episode 152 this week, after experiencing a few unavoidable setbacks, or you’re simply feeling a little stuck on where to go next, then I encourage you to give small, baby steps toward your goals a try. 

If you’re looking to make tidiness at home a goal, for example, then you could start with doing something as simple as making your bed a habit each morning. 

You can then break the bed-making goal down even further into smaller steps, by implementing practices to help prompt you to make your bed.

For Stacy, this meant stacking her pillows in front of her bathroom door in the morning. When Stacy sees those pillows against the door, it cues her to make her bed first thing. The more she repeats the habit of stacking the pillows, the easier it will be for her to turn the act of making her bed into a habit, by extension.

No matter the goal, the idea here is that you’re completing goal-specific activities, little by little, step by step, every day until those activities become routine habits. 

The more you can turn even the smallest aspects of your goals into habits, the easier it will be to reach them!


Get an Accountability Partner –

Goals and accountability go hand-in-hand. But for many of us, making ourselves accountable for our goals can be tough–and for a good reason! 

After all, no one is immune to experiencing days where our motivation is severely lacking. At least no one that I know, anyway, and I am sure the same is right for you, too.

So here’s the thing: you don’t need to be the one always making yourself accountable for the goals you’ve set. Instead, I would encourage you to do the opposite. Well, near-opposite.

Now, that isn’t to say that you shouldn’t have some sense of accountability for your own goals, but let me also put this out there: having an accountability partner in your corner can make all the difference as you’re chasing down your big goals and dreams. And this is especially true when you find your motivation wavering. 

An accountability partner can do much of the heavy lifting for you by checking in with you every day or every week (however often you choose), to make sure that you’re staying true to completing those goal-oriented activities that we mentioned earlier.

The more you feel as though someone else is depending on you to do the things you say you are going to do, the harder it will be for you to stray from the pursuit of your goals. Seriously!

So, rather than force yourself into this boxy idea that you need to be more disciplined and trudge on alone, consider finding someone to support you along your journey instead. (Head to the episode for some ideas on where to find yours!)


Don’t Break the Chain –  

You’ve got a handle on what small steps you want to take each day toward your goals, and you found yourself an accountability partner (or two). Now what?

Don’t. Break. The. Chain.

Keep checking in with your partner regularly, and keep working to make all of the things you do each day to work toward your goals a habit. 

After all, we’re talking about developing habits here, rather than forcing ourselves to chase down this concept of “discipline,” so make sure you’re doing exactly that: working toward those habits! 


Do you have an accountability partner lined up to help support you in the pursuit of your goals? Share how you found your accountability partner and what you do to check-in on each other in the comments below.

And don’t forget to:

  • Tune in to Episode 152 of the podcast to hear all about the 4 A’s that Stacy and I talk about to help her get back on track
  • Sign up for my free live video series, Let Go of the Holiday Hustle, to help bring more joy into your holiday season.
  • And, lastly, if you haven’t already picked up your copy of my book, The Joy of Missing Out, head to joyofmissingout.com, or your favorite retailer!

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Tonya Dalton
Tonya Dalton