No Dessert Until You Clean Your Plate

I’m sure those words echo in your head from childhood memories at the dinner table.  Perhaps you tell your own children that now!  Sometimes, as an adult you need to reach back to your childhood and say to yourself, “No play time unless you put in some work.”

We can have a beautiful vision of where we want to be in our careers, how we will reach financial stability, or the house we will live in one day, but if you want to get from one place to another, do you cross your arms like “I Dream of Jeannie” and poof! you’re at your destination? No, you need to do something to get from A to B.

I understand, especially for those of you who have long term goals, that it’s hard to stay disciplined and focused throughout your journey.  I’m living that struggle right now as I’m on my own journey!  Here is one technique that I use to stay disciplined: I reward myself for hard work – just like a child is rewarded for cleaning his or her plate or for getting a gold star in class.  Even more importantly, I prioritize my daily “to-do” list so that my favorite or most desired things to do come last, because I know I’ll want to do those things anyway!

Here are four simple things to do.  Before you know it, this will become a part of your daily or weekly routine and self-discipline will get easier and easier.

  1. Write down your list for what needs done – either for the day or for the week.  Of course you’ll be able to plan more effectively if you have your weekly “to-do” list written out, but if you need to start on a daily basis, that’s perfectly fine!  The important thing is to start at a place where you know you’ll stick with it.  Don’t overwhelm yourself with a weekly list if you have a hard time prioritizing a daily list.
  2. Once you have your “to-do” list written, prioritize that list.  WAIT! This next step is very important.  Prioritize your list in a way where the less desirable tasks are completed first.  Knock them out of the way so you can get to the tasks you love doing most!  For me, I love finding inspirational quotes and pictures for my A Breath of Fresh Air Facebook page, so I save that for last and do that after the more difficult and important things are completed first.  If you don’t prioritize this way, you may find yourself spending all of your time on the “fun” tasks and then at the end of your day saying, “Oh, I’ll just get to those other things tomorrow.”  Procrastination…it will sneak up on you!
  3. At the end of each day, write down the progress you made.  If you did not complete everything on your list for the day, that does not mean you get to brush those unvisited tasks under the rug.  You better believe you’re adding those tasks to your “to-do” list for the next day!  This is a way to hold yourself accountable and stay on top of your priorities.
  4. REWARD yourself for the progress you’re making!  If you complete all of your “to-dos” for two weeks in a row – or whatever time frame you set for yourself – go get a massage or treat yourself to icecream, a movie, or a day full of video games and mindless fun!

“The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work.  Work is the key to success, and hard work can help you accomplish anything.” ― Vince Lombardi Jr.

– Jen

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