In high school, I was a diligent student who excelled in AP courses and participated in various extracurriculars. I had every moment of each day scheduled from studying to eating to when I had time to hop in the shower, and I felt like I led a disciplined life. Coming to college was a completely different story, as I had more free time than I was accustomed to. I now had several hours of down time in which I could either be productive or watch another episode of Grey’s Anatomy.

For the first time in my life, I really felt myself practicing self-discipline. For example, exercise has become such an uplifting aspect of my day, but I didn’t always see it that way. I absolutely love the feeling of exercising once I am out the door and walking toward the gym. I love the track and especially the feeling of accomplishment afterward. Unfortunately, getting out the door is the hardest part of my entire workout. Utilizing self-discipline to encourage motivation can help you achieve your goals, maintain a structured day, and hold yourself accountable. With the new year approaching quickly, here are a few personal tips for practicing self-discipline in all aspects of life – school, work, and hobbies – in 2017.

1) Prioritize
I have found that, with anything in life, if you don’t make an effort to prioritize something, it most likely will not happen. That could include making time for your friends, making time for yourself, completing assignments on time, eating healthier, or getting your morning workout in. Remember: there are only so many hours in a day and you cannot do everything. That is the best part about prioritizing, it forces you to make a list of what is and what is not important. Prioritizing helps you realize which tasks you must achieve sooner rather than later and what can wait. Prioritizing is the first step to organizing and structuring your life.

2) Schedule it
The key step to achieving self discipline is to schedule each of your priorities. Writing your priorities down on a schedule will prove that you are committed and will help you visualize your day. I joke that if something isn’t in my planner, it’s not going to happen – this includes exercising! Part of scheduling includes penciling in some down time. Being disciplined isn’t about turning yourself into a machine, it’s about mastering organization and delegation. Give yourself some time to relax, unwind, and for a moment be unscheduled. By doing this you give yourself the structure to achieve success.

3) Track, but do not reward

This might be slightly controversial, but I don’t think you should reward yourself for being disciplined. I understand celebrating a promotion, or celebrating a goal achieved, but discipline should be an expectation. The feeling of accomplishment should be enough without rewarding yourself daily for keeping things in check. Keep track and hold yourself accountable.

4) Don’t be too hard on yourself
When you fall off the horse, it’s important to get back up, and ride on. I know that if I start to slip in my discipline, it is a very swift decline. If you find yourself struggling to maintain personal discipline, cut yourself a little slack. Remember that everyday is a new day, and everyday is another chance for you to start in the right direction.

While we might not want to study for our exams, workout after a long day, or remember to choose healthy foods, maintaining a disciplined life will help us to become stronger, more determined young ladies in the long run.

Cecelia M