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  • Aafia Shabazz

Plan your work, work your plan.

No process takes place overnight. Just as it takes time to build muscle, so does it take time to develop self-discipline. The more you train and build it, the stronger you become. In exercise, if you try to do too much at once, you could injure yourself and have a setback. Likewise, take it one step at a time in building self-discipline. So, begin by making the decision to go forward and learning what it takes to get there. Learn what motivates you and what your bad triggers are. You can begin by learning about yourself! Sometimes it is very difficult to fight off urges and cravings, so know the areas where your resistance is low and how to avoid those situations. If you know you can't resist cake, fries, or other temptations - stay away from them. Do not have them around to lure you in moments of weakness. discipline If you also know that putting pressure on yourself does not work for you, then set yourself up in an environment that encourages the building of self-discipline rather than one that sabotages it. Remove the temptations and surround yourself with soothing and encouraging items such as motivating slogans and pictures of what you want to achieve. Learn also what energizes and motivates you. Your willpower can go up and down with your energy levels so play energetic music to perk you up, move around, laugh. Train yourself to enjoy what you are doing by being energized. This will make it easier to implement desirable and appropriate behaviours into your routine - which is really what self-discipline is all about. Make certain behaviours a routine. Once you have decided what's important to you and which goals to strive for, establish a daily routine that will help you achieve them. For example, if you want to eat healthily or lose weight; resolve to eat several servings of fruits and vegetables each day and exercise for at least half an hour. Make it part of your daily routine and part of your self-discipline building. Likewise, get rid of some of your bad, self-defeating habits, whatever they may be. They can put you in a negative frame of mind and hinder your self-discipline. A poor attitude can also be a bad habit. Practice self-denial. Learn to say no to some of your feelings, impulses and urges. Train yourself to do what you know to be right, even if you don't feel like doing it. Skip dessert some evenings. Limit your TV watching. Resist the urge to yell at someone who has irritated you. Stop and think before you act. Think about consequences. When you practice self-restraint it helps you develop the habit of keeping other things under control. Engage in sports or activities. Sports are an excellent way to enhance self- discipline. They train you to set goals, focus your mental and exercise emotional energies, become physically fit, and to get along well with others. Participating in sports provides a situation where you learn to work hard and strive to do your best, which in turn, teaches you to integrate the same the thought processes and disciplines into your everyday life. Get inspiration from those you admire.

Visualize the rewards. There is nothing more gratifying than accomplishing your goals. Practice the technique that high achievers and top athletes do. Project yourself in the future. Visualize your desired outcome. Feel how rewarding it is and the countless benefits you will enjoy. Remind yourself what it takes to get there.

Each day you have the ability for choosing to take control of your life, or to let it control you. You can either be proactive, or you can be reactive by allowing various circumstances to call the shots. To take control of your life, or exercise personal leadership, is to take responsibility for yourself and for every area of your life.

It means being connected with your values and vision and setting meaningful goals for yourself. When you take control, you become more productive and more optimistic. You are able to tackle and solve problems more easily, and ultimately experience less stress in your life. No doubt, with all the chaos and uncertainty going on in the world these days it may be difficult to feel like you are in charge of your life, and while there are some things you have no control over, there are plenty you do.

Understand that you are the principal architect and creator of your life and where you are now is a result of the choices and decisions you have made thus far. An interesting concept that I came across in my readings recently is one whereby you see yourself as the CEO of your own life. If you were to apply this concept to yourself, how would you run your life? What type of strategic planning would you engage in and how would you envision your future? I expect seeing yourself as the CEO of your life would inspire you to think more productively, efficiently and in a more results oriented way.

As your own CEO, here are some ways in which you can take control of your life and exercise personal leadership:

Determine your values and what's important to you. As I wrote in Have A Personal Value System, knowing what you value gives you structure and purpose which, in turn, directs you on how to focus your time and efforts. It would be similar to a company's 'mission statement'. As you probably know, a mission statement typically defines the overall goals and drives the actions of an organization. It likewise provides a roadmap and guides the decision-making processes for management. Your life your mission statement could be something like: "My purpose is to live life to the fullest by taking the care of my health, relationships, finances and overall happiness to the best of my abilities."

When you state your objective so succinctly, you can't help but focus on taking the right actions for where you want to be. Doing so, also helps keep you from being aimless and scattered, and avoids getting into hit and miss situations. Plan, be organized and set goals. Envision the big picture of your desired life and then break it down into manageable parts. For everything you want to accomplish, you need a strategy or action plan. To begin, set goals appropriate to your mission statement and then devise a plan on how to go about achieving them. Nothing happens by itself; so take charge of your life - take the bull by the horns. Rather than daydreaming or 'wishing' for what you want, set the wheels for success in motion by goal setting and plannig. In fact, the planning stages can actually be fun and challenging! Not only will you achieve your objectives, you will sharpen your critical thinking and problem solving skills in the process.

The most successful CEOs in the world, at the best companies, are those who set realistic, achievable goals, plan the best strategies and then execute them accordingly. They also set priorities, organize their tasks and duties and make sure all the different departments are running smoothly and efficiently. There is a famous quote that states, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail."

Maintain a positive attitude. Sometimes, when your best efforts to take control of your life don't go according to plan, one of the hardest things to do is remain positive . As any CEO will tell you, obstacles and roadblocks inevitably get in the way of any launch or rollout. In a similar example, ask any athlete, inventor, or composer if everything they endeavor comes together for them smoothly and without any glitches? Definitely not!

The quality or character trait that separates those who succeed from those who do not, is a positive attitude and an unshakable belief in themselves. They do not let negative thoughts or obstacles get in the way of ultimate achievement. Of course, that doesn't mean it's easy; it means that persistence and focus are necessary. Those who cannot maintain control of their lives, often give up at first sign of trouble or difficulty. When that happens, all else seems to unravel as well, and they mistakenly feel they have no control of anything at all. This type of mindset is both counterproductive and detrimental to progress. Maintaining a positive attitude is absolutely essential for taking control of your life.

Have fun. While taking control of your life involves a lot of planning, strategy and executing, it could weigh you down if you forget to take time for some fun. Living a full, productive life requires maintaining balance between work, relaxation and recreation. Too much structure makes Jack or Jill a dull person.

To take control of your life try an experiment by envisioning yourself as the CEO of your personal company - your own life. The concept alone will make you feel more in control. Then start making the types of plans, choices and decisions you would expect a successful CEO makes. You will be surprised at how much more in control of your life you will feel. It may take some practice and role playing, but the outcome will be - YOU in control of your life.

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