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21 Days to a More Disciplined Life: Discipline Begets Discipline

Some of you may be feeling overwhelmed as we’re nearing the end of this 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life Challenge. It might seem disheartening that we’ve spent three weeks on one habit and you still have a mile long list of dozens upon dozens of other habits you want to incorporate, too.

Don’t lose heart! Just because you feel so far behind or so far from where you want to be, look at how far you’ve come.

As you know the habit I’ve been working on for this 21-Day Challenge was getting up earlier every day. I’ve not had a perfect track record and there were one or two days I did sleep in a little past my goal waking up time. But I’m so happy to be nearing the end of the challenge and feeling like this waking up early thing is becoming a true habit, not just a good idea or something I did for a few days in a row and then fell off the bandwagon again.

It’s not been easy. There have been days when I really, really, really wanted to go back to sleep. But I made myself get up. There have been many times when I came up with a long list of excuses why it was okay for me to sleep in. But I made myself get up. Knowing that you all were with me in this challenge served as an enormous motivation to not slack off when I really wanted to.

And you know what’s been a bonus? Committing to get up early every morning has set so many other good habits in motion:

::Because I’m getting up earlier, I’m having more lengthy and meaningful time reading God’s Word every morning.

::Because I’m getting up earlier, I’m finding time to exercise almost every single day.

::Because I’m getting up earlier, I’m getting a jumpstart on my day and this has enabled me to get a lot more done and be more efficient.

::Because I’m getting up earlier, I’m getting a lot of stuff done before the children wake up. So by the time they wake up, I can give them my undivided attention and focused.

::Because I’m getting up earlier, I’m going to bed earlier and this has allowed me to be get more consistent and restful sleep at night.

That’s the beauty of intentionally working on developing discipline: Discipline begets discipline. When I am disciplined in one area, that resolve spills over into other areas. As I’ve experienced in getting up earlier, intentionally making one consistent habit change can slowly lead to amazing transformation in many areas of your life.

So stick with developing your one habit, don’t give up, and keep with it even when you don’t feel like it. One day soon, you may wake up and realize you’ve changed your whole life… just by beginning with one simple habit!

What about you? How has focusing on making one habit a priority spilled over into other areas of your life? I’d love to hear!

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  • Nicole says:

    This has been such an inspirational and enlightening series. Thank you so much for doing this and sharing it. I feel like I’m connecting with a friend every time I read your blog–even though we’re thousands of miles apart and you don’t know me. If you ever come near Seattle or Portland I’d love to meet you 🙂

  • Chelsea says:

    My goal was to not bring my 8 month old daughter back to bed with me when she woke during the night. Instead, I wanted to completely get her back to sleep and in her crib before I returned to bed. Through setting this habit into motion, she is waking less often and we are all getting more sleep. I feel like I’m responding to her needs better since I am awake and aware. It also has provided me with extra prayer and reading time. It’s been hard, but a good change!

  • Crystal,

    This is one of the best series you have written! It is so specific and practical. I love it.

    Focusing on one area really does spill over. When I am disciplined about exercising every day, I make better choices with my food and am just generally nicer to be around (that’s a huge bonus for everyone in the family!).

  • I took the challenge to have the kitchen cleaned up every night before I head off to bed. This has helped my mornings run so much smoother. It’s one less thing on my “to do” list. I don’t wake up feeling “behind.” I love to walk into a fresh start everyday. But not only has this one challenge been beneficial to me, it has been a bonus to the rest of my family as well, especially my husband. Now, if I can just move to the next room for another 21 days 🙂 Thanks for the inspiration, Crystal!

  • Michelle says:

    For me it is also about that morning routine setting the tone of the entire day. I’ve figured out 10 things that I should do every morning to get my day off to a good start. It seems to start the productivity wheels turning, and that carries over for the rest of the day! I wrote about it here:
    Hope it’s encouraging to someone!

  • Meredith says:

    Mine was to keep up with my healthy eating plan by writing down everything I eat. Well, thanksgiving day, that did not happen. The other days though, I did great. By doing this though, I encouraged my husband, started a better regime with menu and grocery planning, plus, I started exercising some! Thank you so much for the encouragement!

  • Lizet says:

    What I think it makes your website different from the other coupon sites that I’ve seen is that your’s looks for the balance in life. I think sometimes if we are already undisciplined and obssesed with the things of this world and we start couponing we take that obssesion into couponing and then it becomes our whole focus. Thanks very much for your toughts in this, if we really want to be better disciples we need to get good discipline. And I’m still working on that too! Thanks a lot. 🙂

  • Carrie says:

    My goal was to read to my children before bed. There were a few days we didn’t do, especially with late nights around Thanksgiving and company. But i’m happy that we do this consistently now. The side benefit is that we are in a better bed-time routine, as they really want to get pajamas on and their teeth brushed. Thank you for the push to do this. Now if you can help me with my 20+ loads of laundry each week being caught up!

    • angie says:

      Carrie, I read a book recently called The Reading Promise, which is all about a father and daughter and the journey to read together every night. It’s a very sweet story.

  • Katy says:

    If you start one new good habit every 21 days, that is 17 per year. That is a lot!

  • Becky says:

    I am new to your site, and am in love! Thank you for your encouragement! I love what you say how one habit “spills into others.” Here is my new habit that God gave me the strength get through:

  • My goal was to work out 3x a week and then get up at the same time the other 2 days (taking weekends off) to get stuff accomplished. I haven’t been quite so successful, I think my average is working out 2 days a week and getting up 2 days, while sleeping later one day. I know I need to do better, but I figure this is better than where I started, which was not working out at all and getting up after the kids were up. I have noticed a big difference, my body is starting to wake up naturally and it’s getting easier. Today I woke up at 5:15 AM and couldn’t get back to sleep (yes I actually tried because I stayed up super late last night!) Anyways, off to bed, so that I can get up to work out tomorrow morning! 🙂

  • Jen says:

    My goal has been to set weekly goals and to get up earlier. One thing you reminded me in this post is to remind myself of all the reason WHY I have this goal an all the benefits I have gained from working toward it. I have really seen a big difference as it has helped me to be more focused and feel less frazzled during the day. The kids are small such a short time and I’ve been enjoying them more rather than feeling like I’m just rushing to the next task while trying to keep them busy. Thanks so much for the inspiration!

  • I love this series! I have been focusing on getting up with my husband at 3 AM when he gets ready for work, which of course means going to bed pretty early as well. My challenge has been not going back to bed when he leaves, but I am starting to LOVE my alone time in the morning! I need it! Thanks for the encouragement in your blog, especially this series!

  • WilliamB says:

    Picking the right habit to form helps counter the discouragement of slow progress. If one picks a habit that has only itself as a benefit (say, floss teeth twice a day), then one gets only one benefit. If one picks a habit with many additional benefits (getting up early, daily exercise) then one has a long list of benefits to think about when working on forming the habit.

  • Carrie says:

    So true! I get up early too, at least an hour before the kids. And all that you said above is true for me as well. If for some reason I don’t get to get up early (rough night with the toddler, sickness), etc, I feel off all day, as if I had lost two hours.

  • su says:

    Honestly, I haven’t worked on any goals per say. However, I still say the Dunkin Donut saying–“time to make the donuts” and now I think of you too when I struggle with getting up. The day just all around seems to go better when I get up early. I am not rushed. I love not being rushed in the morning….thank you for this post. It has helped me to NOT justify why to stay in bed. Have a great day.

  • GOODMORNING from an encouraged early riser!! 🙂
    It really does make such a difference getting up early and getting a head start on the day without little ones underfoot (and quiet time reading is REALLY quiet!!)
    I’ve really enjoyed this series – thanks for sharing it Crystal!

  • Lucky says:

    This is so true! My goal was to take a shower each night before bed (instead of in the morning) so that I could take time for myself in the morning. Getting the right start to my day has just made everything go smoother around the house. Then when I get to work I feel like things are going so much better because I’m not distracted with a million things that are undone at home. I never liked the term work life balance, but I think through this challenge I might have found it.

  • Thanks for this series, Crystal! Your blog is such an encouragement to me!

  • HeatherHH says:

    My habit was washing all the dishes, pans, etc after each meal. That habit is not very well-established. Over Thanksgiving weekend, we were painting our kitchen, living room, and foyer. I only had sink access at certain times, often my husband needed me to do something else right after a meal, etc, and then I got sick so I haven’t been keeping up with things well. So, after a week off, the habit is rather weak. Going to dive back in today!

    But, I definitely did notice overflow. With the counters and stove rarely having dirty dishes/pots on them, I was cleaning them more frequently. Because I did the dishes right after eating, when I got up to do something an hour later, I could move on to other tasks, so I got more done in general.

    • Tammy L says:

      I agree! 🙂 I am quicker to start dinner prep if the counters are cleared of dirty dishes already… or laundry, ha! “I need to load the washer but first I need to put the wet clothes in the dryer, which is full of clean DRY clothes that need to go in a basket, but both my baskets have loads in them that need to be folded and put away…” LOL! Making a concentrated effort to do all the laundry in 1 day each week has helped me a lot. And I realized aside from diapers and bedsheets, we only have 4-5 loads a week for our family of 6… that’s doable. 🙂

  • HeatherHH says:

    It’s funny how each of us is different. The 8 of us have about 6 loads of laundry a week including everything but diapers. I don’t like doing laundry at all. The thought of having it all to do once a week, or even half of it twice a week just overwhelms me. So, I do one load almost every day, sometimes two loads, and my kids do almost all of the folding and putting away. Makes it much more manageable for me.

  • Meredith says:

    With the exception of Thanksgiving and the day after, I’ve been keeping up with clearing off the kitchen island, dinner table, and the landing going upstairs. I can’t believe how I’ve kept up the landing!! I’m so happy with that. This series has been so beneficial for me. It’s also opened my eyes to more habits I want to form…. maybe we could do one a month, with a post from Crystal every few weeks?:) Just an idea! I know I could use it.

  • My habit was to have the dishes done or in the dishwasher and kitchen counters clean before bed each night. I’ll admit that this hasn’t happened a couple nights but other than that it has. It has been wonderful to start the day NOT feeling like I am in the negative on housework. It has also made me more conscious of having the girls/myself clear the table quickly and picking up after ones self in the kitchen.

    It is also starting to spill over in other areas. A little over a week ago I decided to do something totally different with the laundry by having designated baskets upstairs and this is working out well. The girls even took it upon themselves to take their basket down and wash their own clothes when it got full.

    Finally just 4 days ago the urge hit me to FINALLY start keeping track of what I eat again. I found a free website where I can calculate all of my intake and keep track of where I am at. Just 4 days in I am feeling better and looking forward to shedding some of these unwanted pounds.

    I know that I still have many things on my list of habits I want to change but I am thrilled with the changes that are already being made. I am also very excited that once I start to realize I can accomplish “such and such” it makes me want to come up with a solution to accomplish the next thing.

    Thank you Crystal for setting this ball in motion. 🙂

  • I really want my first activity of my day to start with reading my Bible. My days seem much more relaxed and at peace when I do. Another goal is to find a breakfast recipe that will only take a few minutes each morning, so that I can enjoy it with my husband.

  • Heather says:

    Did you ever finish the 31 weeks to a better grocery budget series?

  • Julie says:

    My goal was to do 40 minutes of housework each day-basically making an effort to unload/reload the dishwasher, straighten the living room at night, and keep our bedroom clean…ish 🙂 I have slipped some days-but overall I feel like it’s become a habit. A little goes a long way, and it’s comforting to know that my home is company ready in less than an hour-and to know that by doing 40 minutes, I have the rest of the day to concentrate on my little ones without feeling like “I’m not getting anything done around here!”

  • Thank you for sharing your heart through this series. I have been reminded and refocused on some of my goals-like cleaning the kitchen before bed, or going to bed at a decent time-thanks to reading this series.

    By the way, I love that you use the word “children” and not “kids”. I use “kids” all the time, but “children” sounds so much more loving!

  • Discipline is SO important in life – whether just getting through the day, or in budgeting! Kudos to you for adopting these positive life changes. Great post!

  • Elizabeth says:

    I love this installment to the 21 Days series. It is very motivational. You did a great job encouraging us, your readers, and have encouraged me today to re-commit to starting to make the positive changes I need to make in my life – one step at a time.

  • Since I became a personal finance blogger, all I write about is budgeting, money, and working from home. So my thoughts are definitely focused on maintaining good spending habits. It’s not easy though! Blogging about what I spend vs. how much I earn keeps me honest. Great article – love your site!

  • This series has been so awesome! I’ll admit I’ve not been great about my habit but it has planted a seed for so many habits I want to develop. Plus, it has also got me to thinking about purposeful habit training for children. Thanks…I honestly don’t know what I would do without this blog!! 🙂

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