The Key to Successful Living

After hearing a friend’s senior thesis, I thought it would be good to share. The battle against procrastination continues on! The post below was written for us by Rebecca Fike.

Procrastination haunted me throughout my high school years. My senior thesis approached, and I couldn’t choose a topic. A last minute decision landed me on the topic of the effects of social media. The day came to present our theses and have several judges ask us some questions. One question asked was, “How does all this research and writing on this topic make you want to live differently?” My glib response was, “I am going to try to be more disciplined and not just with social media.” Later, it was pointed out to me that self-discipline is key to everything in life. Self-discipline is really just practicing self-control. It is the ability to keep pressing forward in a difficult situation when you are tempted to just throw in the towel and quit.

Why is self-discipline so important? First of all, sin and the Fall made man generally lazy and lackadaisical. As part of God’s creation, one of the main goals of the Christian life is to glorify God in everything. This is virtually impossible, however, if we are not even working for the glory of our Creator. This does not mean life will be all rigid rules and regulations; rather, practicing self-discipline enables us to live successful lives. 

What does it mean to live a self-disciplined life? One of the first steps for more successful living is removing any doorway that allows falling to temptation. For example, if I know I have a test that I need to study for, but I can just as easily scroll through social media, I should remove the object that allows me to slip. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses enables you to achieve more in life.

Unfortunately, one of the biggest enemies of self-discipline is procrastination. How can someone be successful if they continually put off what demands to be done? Procrastination continually yells, “there is always another time to finish this job; there is another time for study; there is another time for devotions,” and the list goes on and on. Procrastination is key for easy living, but that should not be our life’s desire. It may seem to work well for a time, but the consequences are hard.

Self-discipline allows for constant and continual self-improvement. There is no point at which the self-discipline in your life is at its perfect peak. There will be times when you just want to quit your journey of self-discipline and go back to the easy way of life. However, at the end of the day, the rewards of discipline are so much better than the results of easy living. A runner has to consistently train if they wish to take advantage of having started exercising. A musician must practice if they wish to grow. A concert pianist did not suddenly become a famous musician. A student must study diligently if they desire to really gain anything from their education. Living a disciplined life leads to success.

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant,
but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:11

2021 Goals

Will you make some goals for the coming new year? It may be a way to intentionally grow or strengthen a weakness. Here’s a path you can follow to make the most of your effort.

Examine your responsibilities. As you look through each segment of your life, consider what your priorities are and what could be even better.

Imagine a step forward in each area of your life. You may come up with a list that includes things like this:

  • Spiritual – Need to find concentrated prayer time rather than sporadic and occasional
  • Home – Start meal planning sooner than 15 minutes before each meal
  • Church – Exercise hospitality
  • Education – Take a class at the rec center to learn a new skill
  • Community – Volunteer at a local organization
  • Health – Walk 10,000 steps a day

As you review this list of possible steps forward in each arena, look at them in light of your current life. You know that a major work project is starting mid-January, so extra classes will probably not fit well with the extra effort needed there. You also decide to hold off on the volunteering until you do more research and find a good fit.

Looking at the remaining options, you feel they are equally attainable; so now it is a matter of choosing which one you will do now. Sometimes two work together well, as prayer and hospitality can support each other as you are motivated to pray for those you welcome into your home. Other times, a single focus would be better, allowing you to pinpoint your effort and set yourself up for success.

Remember: Don’t worry about the possibilities you don’t choose. They put you ahead of schedule the next time you sit down to evaluate. Remember that one step forward is better than none. And I assure you, no one can do everything all at once. Steady, gradual improvement over time will add up.

So let’s say you choose prayer and walking as your immediate goals. Great! Now how will you go about reaching those goals?

Start on the action plan. Brainstorm ideas that would support your success.

Is getting up a bit earlier enough to create the time in your day for prayer? Would a prayer journal help keep you on task and visibly show daily time? Do you need to hire a sitter or teach young children quiet time? Write done your ideas so you can choose what will work best for you.

Decide how you might like to get your steps in. Does early morning work best? Do you already have a device or app to track your steps? What habits need to change, such as where you park at a store or church? Can you combine your prayer and walking time, which would let each goal support the other?

Pick the ideas that you think will work best. Set up your reminders and schedule, as needed. Communicate any changes that you may need others to know.

Now you can work the plan you created! You have a goal and know the steps you need to take to reach it.