It’s easy to see where you want to make changes in your life. Chances are you already have a list of some sort in your head. Maybe you want to lose weight. Or you want more energy. Or a job that pays better, perhaps you simply want a something to do as you age.

But while lists are easy to make, creating change in your life isn’t quite so straightforward. Making a goal to be healthier is not the same thing as the action of being healthier. Instead, the goal is nothing more than a signpost, pointing you in the direction that you want to go.

Getting there is going to take self-discipline, one of the most often misunderstood concepts that there is. That’s why it’s so important to realize what self-discipline is, and what it isn’t.

Self-discipline is a set of tools and techniques by which you can retrain your brain and often your body to become more agile and adaptable to change. Self-discipline achieves new habits and new ways of thinking. It keeps you moving down the path that you need to travel to become better or healthier or to improve in some way that causes significant changes in your life.

You use the methods involved in overall scope called self-discipline to achieve a goal and more importantly, to continue down the same path once you have achieved that goal. Statistically, people who lose weight by dieting, gain it back again. That’s because they haven’t changed their mindset or their habits. Once they have reached the goal, they revert to the old ways, and the weight they’ve lost comes right back.

Changing the mindset and altering their habits brings change in a person. Not just through the immediate loss of a few pounds, but by giving them a different way of looking at food and exercise and living.

What self-discipline is not is a way to shame yourself or to punish yourself for making mistakes. We all fail now and then. But “discipline” doesn’t have to become synonymous with punishment. So, while “self-discipline” has taken on suggestions of self-blame and self-destructive behavior that is exactly the opposite of what it should mean.

Discipline means following a set of rules, a way of behaving, a sort of training regimen that pulls you from the rut of your comfort zones. It frees you to find a better you outside of those boundaries.

Understanding self-discipline is the first step toward being able to practice it. Change truly is possible. With self-discipline, you will soon be well on your way toward becoming the you that you’ve always dreamed you could be.May