Stick To It

New ideas and activities can feel uncomfortable at first, and it takes a bit of discipline to develop them as good habits.

For local resident Brig. Gen. Elizabeth Austin, who in 2011 was named the first female brigadier general of the North Carolina National Guard, discipline is the “building block” to success.

“There is a saying that if you can do something for at least two weeks, you can make it a habit, and thus in a sense, re-create yourself or fix bad habits that may be limiting your ability to achieve your personal goals,” Austin said.

“Keep your vision of success within your own sight. Your life is a sequence of big and small choices and decisions. It is those choices that you really manage, not the flow of time,” she said. “Discipline takes a lot of energy, because we try to bend our will away from what might be most pleasurable, fun or easy toward what may be useful, hard or time-consuming in the long run. In short, nothing in life worth doing or achieving is easy.”

Austin, who is a wife and mother of three, recommends including family members in discussions and decision-making to gain their support in pursuit of your goals.

“Look at your requirements for achieving that goal and evaluate the gates for meeting those requirements. Be sure to do an analysis on how working toward those goals will impact family, lifestyle and how you will manage any added stress,” she said.

And be sure to set short-term goals on the way to larger, long-term ones.

Using her own life as an example, Austin said, “Once I decided I was going to make the military a career, I started setting goals for that career. Small goals at first, i.e., complete a certain school to gain more proficiency in my job or to get to the next higher rank. Attend and complete the OCS (Officer Candidate School) program and receive my commission as an officer was my first goal.

“As a captain, I realized I needed to better prepare myself for the next rank. Therefore, I made sure I met all requirements early on. By taking into account the difficulty along the way, you enjoy the rewards of achieving at the end.”

As brigadier general, Austin’s now earned the payoff for her discipline and goal-setting over the course of years, but recognizes that others have played a part in her success.

“Becoming the first female to (achieve this rank) in the North Carolina National Guard would not have been possible without the strong support and respect of my subordinates, peers and chain of command,” Austin said.

“I continue to set short-term goals and continue to work toward bigger achievements in my career. Now I work toward being the best brigadier general I can, and serve as a mentor for soldiers of all ranks and genders.”

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