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21 Days to a More Disciplined Life: Persevere Even When You Want to Give Up

As we talked about earlier, discipline is a choice. But you can’t just say “I’m going to be more disciplined” and then sit back and see your life change.

No, it will take work, effort, and much perseverance. There will be days when you do not want to follow through with your commitment. There will be many temptations to veer off course or throw up your hands in defeat.

Here are three suggestions to help you stay on track:

1) Anticipate Obstacles

I love how Michael Hyatt talks about the importance of preparing for obstacles before you encounter them in his recent post on discipline. He says:

As soon as you start swimming against the current, you will start feeling resistance. It’s as if the universe conspires to keep you from succeeding. That’s why you have to anticipate these obstacles and build strategies to overcome them.

::If you’re trying to lose five pounds this month, plan what you’re going to eat ahead of time before you go to the holiday party so that your hard work doesn’t go out the window.

::If you’re trying to go to bed earlier every night, set your alarm on your watch or phone to remind you to leave the evening gathering early in order to get home and go to bed.

::If you’re making an effort to get places on time, plan to leave 30 minutes earlier than you need to so that an unexpected phone call or diaper blowout doesn’t derail you from being on time.

2) Be Realistic

Don’t set yourself up for guaranteed failure by aiming for unrealistic goals. As I mentioned yesterday, I’m focusing on re-developing the habit of getting up early. I know that on the weekends, it’s impossible to go to bed before 9:30 p.m. with the usual activities we have going on. So I intentionally decided ahead of time that for the next 21 days I would get up before 5 a.m. Monday through Thursday only. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I’m aiming to be up by 7 a.m.

Sure, I’d like to get up by 4:30 a.m. every single morning. But, I just can’t realistically commit to that and follow-through with it. Otherwise, I’d be getting less than six hours of sleep some nights. I can function on less than six hours of sleep once every few weeks, but realistically I need to get seven to eight hours of sleep on a regular basis to feel energetic and function effectively.

3) Resist Negative Thought Patterns

Remove the words, “I can’t” from your vocabulary. Stop dwelling on the fact that you’ll probably fail at this challenge since you never seem to follow through with anything. Surround yourself with people who inspire and motivate you.

And remember that falling down is not failing–unless you don’t get back up again. Keep going, even when it feels like it’s an uphill battle that’s going nowhere, and your persistence will eventually pay off.

Practical Application

1. Read Michael Hyatt’s article on 5 Steps to Developing Discipline.

2. Consider what obstacles lie in your path as you seek to implement your chosen habit over the next 18 days. Create strategies to help you be prepared for them.

3. Step back and make sure you’re being realistic about your discipline goals. Do you need to tweak anything to help set you up for better success?

4. What negative thought patterns do you need to squelch? When they arise, how will you replace them with positive, inspirational thoughts?

Yesterday’s project update: Did you make a list of habits you want to develop over the next few years? I have an ongoing list for myself and my children. I doubt I’ll ever make it through the whole list (wait, what was that I just said about negative thinking in point number 3?!?), but at least I’m never going to run out of areas in my life to work on and improve in! 🙂

Note: I’m taking the weekend off from posting this daily series, but will be back with the next installment on Monday. Enjoy a little breather–but keep on with your discipline goals and projects. 🙂

photo credit

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  • Blaire Ruch says:

    I had an excuse prepared of why I didn’t have to wash my face tonight 🙂 I did not put any makeup on today at all. Gotta stick with my commitment though! Thanks for the post!

  • So…I was going to get up at 6am, but Oliver vomited on EVERYTHING and was up at 4am for 45 minutes. While I was cleaning it all up, Naomi woke up too. He was up again at 7:45am, and this time everything was covered in #2…


    I’ll try again tomorrow! Persevering and anticipating obstacles… 🙂 Thanks for the encouragement!

    • Crystal says:

      I am SO sorry! Vomit is one of the least glamorous parts of mothering–especially when it’s at 4 a.m.! 🙁

      I hope Oliver starts feeling better soon. Poor guy!

  • Sarah says:

    I totally know where you are coming from. On my weekends I have been trying to get up early so that I can get things accomplished before my babies wake up. But of course every time I decide to do that something always seems to happen to keep me from doing so. Same with working out…. Thanks for the post!

  • Kate says:

    Thank you, I needed to read this today! I signed up for 9 credit hours this term (8 weeks), all done online, and I am a SAHM of 3 (5, 4, 1) living overseas with my active duty husband. Juggling everything has been really hard and giving up has seemed so easy. The picture for this post is so true! 🙂

    • Guest says:

      Thank you to your husband for serving and you for keeping the home fires burning!

    • Crystal says:

      It sounds like you have a ton on your plate. Remember to breathe and give yourself grace (an maybe find someone to help you out with your children or cleaning or something on a regular basis?!).

      Thank you to your husband for serving our country!

  • I’m on the tail end of a big project and have been feeling completely overwhelmed. Thanks you for the encouragement to keep working toward my goal.

  • Guest says:

    I’ve wanted to ask this for awhile but have been afraid it would sound rude. I’ve decided I’m going to hope that folks wil trust me when I say I’m just genuinely curious. 🙂

    Why are so many moms struggling to get to bed at a decent hour? I’m a mother of two little ones, work full-time, have a fairly large house, have church and social commitments, etc. and I’m in bed by 9:30 most nights, 10 at the latest. I can’t imagine staying up any later and being able to do all that I have to do ech day!

    • Davonne says:

      Love this series!

      And how far are you in Entraleadership? Have you gotten to page 122 yet? 🙂

    • Anna says:

      I am a single mom of 4 including a child with disabilities who requires constant care. I work outside the home full time plus. I also have asthma and an injured back. I exercise everyday by doing a home based physical therapy program. I get up at 5:30 and go to bed by 11:00 pm most days including weekends. Eleven pm is “early” for me. I would rather go to bed earlier but my children need things and I need things. If I don’t exercise a minimum of 2 hours a day I cannot function (my back becomes immobile) and my family does not get the care they need and/or I miss work and my work pays for bills and health care.

      My kids are my life but my health also is important so I have to take care of myself. I am not trying to be a “smarty pants” but I have a “heavy load to bear” until the kids are grown and will probably always have to care for my child with disabilities so that is why I don’t get to bed at an earlier hour. And believe me I do not regret what I do for once second. My heavy load is not my children or my injured back but my heavy load is if that is how I viewed my life. I view my life and children as a blessing. On the weekends I sleep in until 7 am so I get a little more sleep. My routine just takes me until 11 pm at night. If I don’t follow my household/personal routine then life get chaotic.

      Why do I need this series because like all humans I get behind, I get discouraged, I get on the self-pity band wagon. I would love to be in bed by 9 pm but during the school year that is not always the case. I want to be physically flexible and I want my special needs child to have the things she needs and I want my other children to have what they need.

      Eleven o’clock bedtime is the best I can do right and without being a “smarty pants” that is why I am not in bed before then because of the blessings and challenges God has given me and because I graciously and humbly am thankful for them. That is why I cannot get into bed an earlier hour and I am glad.

      • Anna says:

        PS “Money Saving Mom” helps me stay on track in my life and this series is helping me stayed disciplined and strengthen discipline in other areas in my life. Believe me after being injured and now being able to care for my family again by working hard, I am happy with my bedtime.

        • Anna says:

          Sorry if I sound like I am preaching. I work so hard for my family sometimes my preaching is more to myself more than to others. When I am in pain I sometimes lose perspective. I feel sorry for myself and wish someone would take care of me 🙁 or would clean my house or make lunches or do laundry or go to work for me. BUT I am happy to say I am having more and more pain free days now :).

    • Christy says:

      For me, my kids ate in bed by 8. Then I have to clean house (I am at work all day), do schoolwork (I am a teacher), spend time with DH, get lunches, my clothes, etc. Ready for the next day, maybe assemble crock pot meal or casserole for next day and I do like a little bit of time to check my e-mail, fb, moneysavingmom, etc. Also spend good portion of one night a week planning grocery list and gathering coupons. Then all of a sudden it is 10:30 and I still have to take a shower before bed.

    • Crystal says:

      The reason I usually don’t get to bed until 10:30 or 11:00 p.m. (or later!) on Friday and Saturday evenings is because Friday night is a long-standing tradition in our family to do something fun–go somewhere, get together with someone, have a family movie night, or have an at-home date night after the children are in bed. We all look forward to this each week and it’s completely worth staying up for! Saturday evenings we spend with Jesse’s family and we’re rarely home before 10 p.m. and then I post the Drugstore Deals and get ready for Sunday. I’ve been working on planning ahead to get some of the last-minute things done earlier in the day, though, because it’s not been working too well to go to bed at midnight and then have everyone up and out the door for church the next morning. 🙂

      We all have areas we excel at and we struggle with, so it’s such a great thing when we can learn from others in our areas of weakness. I’d love to have you share tips and things that have worked for you to help you consistently go to bed early as that’s something I’m working on implementing in my own life right now.

      • My children are no longer little anymore (13 and almost 16), but for me nighttime is my best part of the day and has been as long as I can remember.

        Typically I need a good 8 hrs sleep but I don’t often get it. Although I do not work out of the home I have to get up by at least 6:30 weekdays to make sure my daughters have eaten properly and are ready for school. So I am up however my brain and body don’t really seem to get with it until at least 9am or so. Yes I have tried many times over my almost 18 years of marriage to switch myself around and accomplish things in the morning however no matter how much sleep I get I still I am not with it in the mornings.

        Night time on the other hand I could conquer the world almost. 😉 It is a time when I can accomplish most and once the kids are in bed I can hang out with my husband or just have quiet time for myself.

        So I have resolved myself to the fact that I am just a night person. For now I will not get the full amount of sleep I need, but for me it is worth it because the things I get done at night are such a fulfillment to me. Just like those of you who get so much done if you get up extra early. 🙂

    • Johnlyn says:

      I think some people function better at night than in the morning.

      Like you, I have NO problem going to bed early – it’s more like falling into bed because I’m really tired.

      I have no problem getting up early in the morning because I’m a morning person. However, my husband is exactly the opposite. He’ll often go work out at 9:00 at night.

      • Crystal says:

        Very true! It’s important to determine when your peak efficiency time is and make sure to capitalize on that–especially if you have a big project you’re tackling!

    • Anitra says:

      Before kids, I regularly stayed up until 11pm or even midnight (I was getting up at 6am to get ready for work).

      Now with two little ones who go to bed at 8pm, I often feel like I’m running around trying to make the most of my “alone” time and I start running down around 10:30, at which point my infant needs his last feeding of the night.

      I’ve tried getting up earlier in the morning, but I can never get much done before one or both kids are up – if I manage to get up before them at all! Lately, we can count on being woken up at least once every night by either the preschooler or the baby – and the preschooler then gets up at 5am!

      You sound like you must be very organized, to be able to take care of everything for your children/house/etc. in only an hour or two each day/night.

  • joanna says:

    thanks so much, crystal, for this series! i haven’t been following very closely, but every time i stop in, i’m encouraged & challenged. i really need to start setting some goals & sticking to them; hey, then i’ll have a head start on new year’s resolutions, right? =) no, seriously, thanks, & i’m going to sit down & right out a few realistic goals right now…

    • Crystal says:

      You’re welcome! Thank you for your kind encouragement!

    • joanna says:

      something i just read in my devotions that i thought really goes along well w/ this; discipline/self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, so unless we are praying about our discipline goals & treating them as a spiritual matter, we most likely won’t be able to achieve them. i hadn’t thought of this before…

  • Patti says:

    It’s funny but as I work on one habit (getting up an hour earlier), I seem to be doing better in other areas. Yesterday I set the alarm on my phone for the time I needed to leave a lunch meeting to meet a repairman so I would be sure to be on time. I’ve never done that before!! Normally I would just keep looking at my watch, not enjoy the lunch, and then be running late to get back home in time for the repair appt. Setting the alarm was an idea in one of this week’s posts for getting to bed on time. Reading these posts and the resulting comments have spurred me on to new and better ways to deal with what life brings. Thank you!!

    • Crystal says:

      My mom used to always say, “Discipline begets discipline.”

    • Traci says:

      Patti-I’m already seeing this exact same thing! My goal was to make sure the kitchen is clean every night (haven’t missed a night yet…woohoo) but it’s spilling over into other things. I’ve also washed my face every night, and picked up the living room every night. that’s exciting!

  • Joanna says:

    I think for many of us, especially those with small children, we get a lot done after the kids are in bed, and that’s why we end up stating up so late.

    For me, it is less the issue of getting stuff done, and more about spending time with my husband. I put all five of my kids to bed at 8:30 each night, then I quickly clean the kitchen and do a quick run through the house tidying up things, etc. At that point I could go to bed each night by 9:00, but I often stay up until 10:00 so I can spend time with my husband, even if we just watch tv together, that’s all he needs most nights. I have to make myself go to bed after that though, because he is a real night owl and will stay up later!

    • Crystal says:

      You’ll never regret spending that time with your husband each night!

      I’m blessed in that my husband gets up early with me so we have our time together in the early mornings. Coffee, prayer, planning, talking (well, me talking and him listening–you know how that goes! :))… it’s such a special time, even if sometimes we’re both just trying to still wake up. 🙂

  • Growing up, “can’t” was a forbidden word, according to my father. He would ask, “You really can do it, you just don’t want to do it.” He always encouraged setting goals and reaching high for that thing that we supposedly “can’t” do. I appreciate that life lesson now as I try to teach it to my kids as well.

    The 21 day discipline that I am working on is one you suggested about cleaning the kitchen before bed. I am so bad about leaving the kitchen mess from dinner until the next day. And you are right, waking up to a dirty kitchen sets a tone for the day. I have enjoyed the last few days waking up to a clean kitchen and a fresh start to my day.

    • Crystal says:

      Okay, I have a confession to make: we didn’t clean up the kitchen last night! I went to bed early and read while my husband worked on a LEGO project with my daughter. After waking up to a messy kitchen and crusted-food dishes this morning, I resolved to make cleaning up the kitchen before bed a priority. Gratefully, I jumped in and got the kitchen clean first thing–and feel much better about it now! 🙂

      • Ah, Crystal. You’re such an inspiration to so many people in so many areas. It’s great to hear that you’re real too (that is also inspirational)!

      • Emily says:

        Crystal, Friday night I totally thought of you and your clean kitchen every night. I was soooo tempted to let the dinner dishes sit in the sink and do them Saturday morning after my coffee. Then I thought of you and it inspired me to just do it then. I was so glad I did when I woke up to a clean kitchen Saturday morning (because, not only did I do the dishes and run the dishwasher, but I also scrubbed my sink before going to bed too). THanks for the inspiration!!

  • Lissa says:

    Where can I find a link to all the previous posts in this series?

  • I started my list….and then I got overwhelmed. I have a tendency to get overwhelmed when I think about ALL the things I need to do and I become like a deer in headlights and ultimately end up doing nothing.

    So, once I got overwhelmed I stopped where I was at. Talked with my hubby about being overwhelmed and that helped calm me down.

    I figure I will go back to the list in a few days and maybe add an item or two every few days that way I don’t paralyze myself with all the things I need to accomplish. I do not want to give up before I really get things going.

  • sabrina says:

    I could easily be in bed by 9:00 as well. I love the time with my husband sometimes I lose track and could be up at midnight.(He is a night owl also) I have to do better at going to bed with or without him. My days start off much better with 8 hrs sleep. I have 4 kids and I currently breastfeeding my 5 month old who is always up by 6:30, which means I must be up by 5:30 to get my others going.

  • Bethany says:

    I too got up before 5:00 am the past two mornings. As I was giving the baby her bottle and anticipating putting her back down, I couldn’t help but think how grateful I hadn’t made the same habit changing decision as yourself, Crystal. My preheated bed was so nice to snuggle back into for an hour. 🙂

  • KATIE says:

    I made my list of goals at the beginning of the month, and one was to quit smoking. It’s an awful habit, I know but it seems I literally try every day and have no luck. I have been reading all of your posts on discipline and praying, which I don’t do enough and I am now four days cigarette free. This is the longest i have ever made it and things are looking good and getting easier. Thanks for all of the discipline posts!!

  • Jessica says:

    I’ve started Pinning each day’s entry, and in the note putting my response. I know, I should be blogging, but that’s a habit for a later date. Concentrating on reducing procrastination as my current habit. Anyway, so on to what I Pinned:

    21 Days to a More Disciplined Life Day 4- Persevere Even When You Want to Give Up:
    My chosen habit is to become less of a procrastinator.
    *Obstacles in my path*
    ~(I’m a natural born procrastinator, but then that is just what I’ve BECOME due to habit.) I need to verbally reassure myself daily that procrastination is just a bad habit I am willing and able to break.
    ~(It’s EASIER to put it off… At least at first.) I need to remind myself daily that it may be easier to put it off than to do it, but it’s easier to do it NOW than do it and 10 other things LATER.
    ~(Whenever I need to do something the kids always interfere.) This requires restructuring my “chore time” and “me time”. Me time can be while the kids are awake & occupied, so chore time can move to when they are napping or Rickey is home to watch them.
    You betcha. For better success I just need to implement the strategies already listed.
    *What negative thought patterns do I need to squelch?*
    See my 1st and 2nd obstacles. They are all about negative thoughts.

  • HeatherHH says:

    Two days of washing up all dishes right after every meal. My main obstacle is going to be after dinner when I’m tired at the end of the day. One thing that would help is to wash up any dinner prep stuff, or at least start it soaking, before we actually eat. And remind myself how nice it is to have clean dishes to put away in the morning!

    I made my list of habits I want to establish. I don’t know that it’s exhaustive, but if I got all 13 established, my life would be running pretty well!

  • Meredith says:

    Table, island, and stairs landing are still clutter free!! I made my list… debating about whether I want to get up earlier or not. Recently my kids have been waking up when they hear us moving around, so I’ve been staying in bed on the weekends, so they’ll sleep later… will think about that. I’ll conquer my other habits/goals as the clutter free habit becomes more consistent.

    I think my obstacle is that I get lazy sometimes and just want to sit or don’t want to deal with putting things away. At least I’m aware of it and will hopefully conquer it!

    Can’t wait to see what comes next in the series!

  • This is a good time of year to try and get up earlier — the time change makes it easier, I think.

    My DH and I have been trying to go to bed at 10 every night. It helps. The only problem is my kids have been getting up at 5 right along with me — can you say CRANKY?

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