The following was originally posted by PW blogger Kelly Cawcutt, MD, to her personal blog site,


January is a month full of resolutions, goals and willpower. It is also a month in which I hear the echo of people commenting on how they will be ‘self-disciplined’ this year in order to achieve their goals.

I used to be one of those echoes. I used to tout the value of self-discipline.

Lately, I have been spending more time considering how I think, what I think and how those thoughts impact my feels, actions and results.

It turns out, advocating self-discipline for myself carries only negative connotations.

Why, you ask?

Consider the below definition of discipline.

“the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience”
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Working to create new positive habits or taking action toward our goals and dreams are important aspects of our personal and professional growth, but do we really want to engage in self-punishment? Do we truly believe that mistakes, detours or failure to exercise one day means we need discipline? Would you recommend a a friend or loved one punish themselves for a bad day? How does that help us?

Filling our minds with thoughts of how we are failing, bad or inability to accomplish a goal, lead to us doing less, thereby becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

What if we changed that thought to something allowing us the grace to fail and not berate ourselves, but to stand off, shake off the dust and keep going?

I challenge you to erase self-discipline from your vocabulary, instead, consider self-prioritization.

The definition of prioritization is “the action or process of deciding the relative importance or urgency of a thing or things.”

There is grace and freedom within the simple word ‘deciding’. You intentionally choose the priorities for achieving your goals – not those of your boss, your friends, your colleagues, YOURS. If one day, you choose a different priority, there is no punishment or negative connotation. No self-loathing.

Choose well, choose intentionally and forget you have ever heard the phrase self-discipline. Life is hard enough, we do not need to add self-punishment on top of that.