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a number-one best-selling author, success and book coach, and speaker on a mission to help leaders use the power of writing to uncover their unique stories so they can scale their impact.

I'm Stacy Ennis,

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Why Discipline Is Everything

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I'm a number-one best-selling author, success and book coach, and speaker on a mission to help leaders use the power of writing to uncover their unique stories so they can scale their impact.

Hi, I'm Stacy


This week’s post comes from the wonderful Kim Foster, a writer and editor who was inspired by a short podcast episode I recorded, Why Discipline Is Everything. Her take is so insightful! Enjoy—and be sure to leave a comment with your thoughts. I read each and every one and love hearing from you.

There always seem to be people in life who reach their goals, who keep pushing themselves until they get there. They have busy lives: kids, school, work. And they just learned how to play the piano. How do they do it?

The difference between those who are successful in achieving their dreams and those who aren’t is mindset. I love what Carol Dweck discusses in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. She says there are two types of mindsets: one where you’re working to validate yourself and the other where you’re developing yourself. Validation involves thinking your intelligence is fixed. Development says you can get smarter. I’ll stick with the second one.

I like the concept of growing, of not stagnating but developing my knowledge, my skills. As my husband likes to tell his students, making more dendrites (connections) in your brain.

But then there are those pesky little “reasons,” which are nothing more than excuses, that get in the way. Even thoughts of “I can’t possibly do this” may crop up. Doubt sneaks in and nudges out confidence.

Instead of looking for why they can’t do something or making excuses for why things are not working out for them, achievers face those roadblocks as problems to be solved. If we sit back and accept that there’s no way around them, we become the obstacle. Especially before we even get started.

I don’t know about you, but I never want to hear that I’m my worst enemy. Though I know I have been at times. So you’ve got to come up with a strategy. Make a plan. And start.

Be Reasonable

Set goals that are measurable and achievable. For instance, I want to be fluent in French, but saying I want to be able to read and speak it fluently in six months is a bit unrealistic. So perhaps my goal should be: in six months, I would like to be able to ask basic questions about food and transportation. Simple. Doable. Achievable.

This applies to daily time as well. If you set the bar too high, like committing an hour every day when you’re already over-committed to other things, you’ll throw up your hands in defeat. Starting will never happen. And later, you’ll feel the weight of dreams fading.

No one likes regret because it comes with a feeling of loss. Loss of opportunity, loss of forward movement. I don’t want to get years down the road, look back and say, in the words of Catherine De Bourgh in Pride and Prejudice, “If I had ever learnt, I should have been a great proficient.”

Get Ready

Designate a place to work. My creative thinking is done in my favorite, cozy chair. This is where ideation often begins as I contemplate what I want to do. When I get down to business, I’m at my desk—hopefully cleared of clutter—and ready to be productive.

Do you need to get some organizational things out of the way? Gather what you need to work with, so your supplies are ready ahead of time. For example, I like writing on a lined note pad. And I have my favorite pens that are in my pencil holder that says “Edit.” Family members know to ask permission first before grabbing one. (It’s an editor/writer thing.)

Whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish, and you only have ten minutes to devote to it, you don’t want to spend five minutes searching for what you need. Taking a few moments to prepare your space will help you work efficiently, and you will find yourself being more productive.

Make Time

Have you heard the one about how to eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Okay, that adage has never set well with me. I mean, an elephant cannot taste good, and I would never want to try it. But I get the intent. If you tackle something a little at a time and stay with it, eventually you will accomplish it.

Like writing a book. You’re not going to sit down and write the whole book in one sitting. I think we could agree on that. You would break it up into doable bites. Maybe in the beginning you wouldn’t write much at all but would map out chapters, sections, gather research. (Stacy maps out the entire process, step-by-step, in her Idea-to-Draft Accelerator and Author Mentorship program.)

Whatever it is, you wouldn’t get anything done—if you didn’t start.

And that’s where time comes in, that ever-illusive element we are always lamenting there isn’t enough of. I admit this has been something I’ve struggled with. I don’t always steward my time well. Combine that with a big, overwhelming goal I want to reach, I’m sometimes stymied before I ever get started (ahem—becoming my own obstacle).

So if you don’t have an hour every day to devote to your goal, then what do you have—twenty minutes? Ten minutes? Use what you have and go with it. Chances are you’ll end up spending more time, especially as you start seeing progress and you feel a sense of accomplishment. The point is—start.

At the end of your chosen time, a few months or even a few weeks, then you can reorient and ask, Is this working for me? Do I want to keep this space set aside? Is this valuable for me? How am I showing up in the rest of my life?


When I hear someone say, “lifestyle change,” I think, my word, I have to overhaul my schedule and everything about my life. A bit dramatic, I admit. But lifestyle change doesn’t have to equal overhaul. And it doesn’t have to mean carving huge chunks of time out of your calendar to shift your trajectory.

Ten minutes is better than nothing. Like Stacy shares in her podcast episode, Why Discipline Is Everything, if you add up ten minutes a day, five days a week, that will equal fifty minutes. If you did that every week of the year, it would add up to over forty-three hours. And according to Josh Kaufman, in his book The First 20 Hours: Mastering the Toughest Part of Learning Anything, you can learn a new skill in nothing flat. His premise is that if you devote “20 hours of focused, deliberate practice, you’ll go from knowing absolutely nothing to performing noticeably well.” Ten minutes a day fit nicely into that goal.

Whether you’re writing a book, learning a new skill, or leaning in to grow your business, you can set yourself up for success. Be specific with setting your goal, get your workplace ready, figure out the time you want to devote to your goal, and commit to following through.

With a mindset of growing and developing, life gains a new depth. You will discover a richness connected to your goals, and it will affect how you show up in the world. Discipline equals success.

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