1. Count Calories

Counting the number of calories you consume on a daily basis will help to make you more aware of your habits. Self-awareness is always the first step towards self-discipline. I am not suggesting any radical diets or unrealistic lifestyle changes, but simply a conscious act of accounting for what you are taking into your body. This awareness alone will lead to better habits such as increased exercise and avoiding binge eating. Simple tools such as MyFitnessPal exist to make calorie counting easier.

2. Exercise

30 minutes of Aerobic exercise every day will keep your mind sharp, your body fit, and your emotions in check. An emerging body of research is showing that exercise is linked directly to neurotransmitter production and release. If your lifestyle is sedentary, your brain will begin to starve for certain chemicals such as serotonin, which will

3. Set Goals and Keep Promises

I’m not just talking about big goals like “I want to lose 75 lbs by this time next year,” although I’m a big fan of large goals as long as they are SMART goals and you have specific daily action items that get you there. The problem is that it will be hard to accomplish large goals unless you are in the habit of keeping the small, everyday promises to yourself.

Every week, I set goals for what I want to accomplish each day (how many pages I read, which to-do list items I need to accomplish, how many hours I spend exercising, how many dollars I save towards my next financial goal, etc). These are all together in a checklist in my journal. I check them off as I do them and then at night I take inventory and see how I’ve done. Every metric I missed is a promise to myself that I have broken. I apologize to myself and recommit to doing better the next day.

These daily metrics all relate back to longer-term goals, and become my action plan for larger, longer-term goals. For example, when I put a check mark next to Tuesdays “Count Breakfast Calories” box, I know I am making progress towards my weight-loss goals. These daily action items are the missing ingredient in most people’s New Year’s resolutions and life plans.

4. Make (and follow) a Budget

John Maxwell says “A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.” Budgeting is not only a cornerstone of financial success but a central component of self-discipline as well. If something inside of you is telling you that a budget sounds restrictive, or it’s too much of a hassle, that is the voice of your undisciplined self whining (we all have one of those and they all whine so don’t worry, you’re normal). A budget is simply a plan for what you will make this month and where the money will go during the month. Usually that includes plans for making progress on personal debt and saving against emergencies and large purchases. Free tools like EveryDollar make budgeting easy and intuitive.

5. Embrace Challenges

Successful people do hard things. The act of challenging yourself, struggling, working through the pain, overcoming fear, and (hopefully) eventual success is not just enjoyable, but necessary for self-mastery. Your comfort zone is the enemy of growth! In an age of unprecedented leisure and comfort, you will need to intentionally seek out challenges to face. These may include a physical challenge such as a 5k race, an intellectual challenge such as learning a new skill, or a financial challenge such as a new business venture.

Another way to take on a challenge is to cut something out of your life that’s harming you. This might mean ending a toxic relationship, abstaining from pornographic material, or amputating an indulgent dessert item. This is the concept behind the practice of self-denial during Lent, which helps believers subject the will of their corporeal selves to the will of their mind and spirit. Mormons fast for two meals once a month and donate the cost of those meals to the poor with the same purpose in mind. There is something about giving and sacrifice that gives us mastery over ourselves in a real and tangible way.

Sometimes we avoid the pursuit of self-discipline because it seems unpleasant. Free spirits can feel like these habits will interfere with their lifestyle. However, self-discipline is the cornerstone of maturity and a necessary ingredient for a full and abundant life. If you will diligently make a habit out of counting calories, exercising, setting goals and keeping promises, sticking to a budget, and embracing new challenges, you will be taking your first steps towards a life of superpowered abundance and lasting joy.

Author's Bio: 

Rachael Murphey is an entrepreneur and writer on topics of business, leadership, and personal success. She currently lives in Denver, CO with her dog Charlie.