Jul 22, 2023

Hacking Teacher Burnout Summer Book Study Series: How to Improve Self-Discipline and Initiate Lasting Change

It’s easy and exciting to dream BIG and envision the life you desire (and deserve!) but without self-discipline or knowing how to improve it, those dreams you have to continue to seem elusive. The change that you desire for your life doesn’t have to seem impossible to achieve.  Whether it’s through monthly, weekly, or daily commitments, you CAN cultivate the self-discipline needed to transform your life and turn your aspirations into tangible realities.   

With that, welcome to episode 193 of The Burned-In Teacher Podcast!  We are already at meeting EIGHT of the Hacking Teacher Burnout Summer Book Study Series! I can’t believe that this is already our second to last episode in this series! This episode is all about initiating lasting change and, together, we are going to build the self-discipline that you need (monthly, weekly, and daily) to reach your goals! 

Before we dive into this Hack, there are a couple of housekeeping things that I want to go over!

First of all, I’ve added the theme songs (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out the Burned-In Teacher Podcast Facebook Community), plus some other ones, to the Burned-In Teaher Spotify Playlist.  If you have not yet engaged with the other teachers from around the world who are joining us for the Hacking Teacher Burnout Summer Book Study Series, I highly encourage you to go check it out! There are thousands of other teachers in there who are taking control, choosing something different, and growing through their burnout! 

I’m also REALLY excited to announce that, after the last episode of the Hacking Teacher Burnout Summer Book Study Series, I’ll be hosting a meet-the-author event through Zoom on August 7th at 8:30 pm EST. You do need to register just so that I can send you the Zoom link.  To register, go to www.burnedinteacher.com/meet.  It’s totally free, and I’m not speaking on a specific topic, it’s just time to share about your experience and ask questions.  I’m so excited to see the faces of all of you who have been following along with the Hacking Teacher Burnout Summer Book Study Series this summer.  It’s a really fun way for us to connect! 

And lastly, as a THANK YOU for what you’ve already spent to partake in the Hacking Teacher Burnout Summer Book Study Series, I’m going to give you money off of my signature course, Burned-In Teacher University.  This course is the perfect next step to go even deeper on your journey out of burnout.  Head on over to www.burnedinteacher.com/course and enter the code BOOKCLUB at checkout! 

Okay, so back to Hack 7! 

This hack is all about initiating lasting change, and I’m not going to live to you, this is the HARD stuff! I often compare moving out of burnout to getting six-pack abs. The process may seem simple, right? The Burned-In Process itself is simple, but the daily intention and the daily discipline needed to see lasting change is not easy.  

Going back to our analogy of getting six-pack abs, you may say that you want six-pack abs, but are you really willing to do the daily work that it takes to reach that goal? It takes day after day discipline for weeks, sometimes years, to transform your body  And sometimes the same can be true for transforming our careers and our lives.  We can say that we want things to be different, but if we don’t put in the work consistently, it’s not going to happen.  

I want to be honest and say that yes, The Burned-In Process is simple, but the act of actually doing the work over and over again to change your life is not easy.  

So in this Hack, I share strategies for implementing goal-setting sessions (monthly, quarterly, etc…) for yourself, utilizing backward design to break down your goals, and weekly/daily check-ins with yourself to ensure that you’re staying the course, as well as reflecting on your habits/actions and determining the things you need to adopt, change, or abandon because we can’t keep doing the same things over and over again and expect different results. 

In the “What You Can Do Tomorrow” section on pages 156 through 162, there are some action steps that you can take.  Have you been able to check any of those things off yet? If not, I’m going to ask you, “Why?”  Often we start off excited and really motivated the first couple of days, but then we let life get in the way and we allow ourselves to skip a day and we may continue to tell ourselves excuses as to why we don’t get back on track.  This is where daily discipline is so important!

If you’ve fallen off the wagon and slipped back into those bad habits, this is your call to action to remember that you have to initiate daily change and daily action.  

So here’s how you can do that…

Start by choosing one of the goals that you’ve chosen for yourself in Hack 6.  (Make sure it’s written in SMART form!)

Next, list out the action steps you need to reach that goal.  

Then, list out the tasks to complete each of those action steps.  

You see when we look at a goal as a whole, it can seem overwhelming and unobtainable.  But, when we break it down into smaller action steps and tasks, this once lofty goal becomes achievable.  

Here’s an example.  

My youngest daughter has recently turned 15 and we just enrolled her in an online driver’s education course, and it’s overwhelming her.  She said, “This is going to take me ALL year!” I told her that, it might look like that, but if she would tackle pieces of the course for 30 minutes a day, she would be done by the time school starts.  There’s nothing that says that the entire course needs to be done in one sitting, it’s just a story she was telling herself.  But, she’s going to have to be disciplined and intentional with her time to make sure that she works on the course for 30 minutes a day.  

You see, this is the HARD stuff.  This is the UNSEXY stuff.  This is non-Instagram-worthy stuff we have to do to change our lives.

What’s going to create the biggest change and make the most momentum is you doing the things that you don’t feel like doing, and that’s exactly what we talked about in Hack 4 (Nurturing Your Habits and Strengths).  

What I just shared with you about writing down your goals (both professional and personal) and breaking them down into smaller tasks and action steps, that’s something I’d encourage you to do every month (or perhaps every quarter).  

Then, you’ll set up a time to check in - WEEKLY - with yourself.  I do this every Saturday or Sunday and it’s become my weekly planning ritual. Here’s what I do: 

  1. I write down all the things I want to achieve that will help me reach my bigger goal.
  2. I write down all the “adulting” things (appointments, tasks, etc…) that I need to make time for that week. 
  3. Add when you’ll complete all of these tasks to your calendar. 
  4. Cross them off when you complete each task!

I’ve created space for you to do all of this in the Hacking Teacher Burnout Book Study Guide, but you can use whatever calendar works best for you.  You’ll notice that, in the book study guide, the calendar included is Monday through Friday.  You can add Saturday and Sunday if you’d like, but I intentionally left those off so you could use those days to focus on your hobbies, relaxation, or whatever else you like to do over the weekends. However, you can utilize your time on those days in whatever way works best for you. 

And, make sure to cross off and celebrate each time you complete a task.  Celebrate those small wins that move you forward!

Also, in the book study guide, you’ll see that gave you space to do daily check-ins with yourself.  This is my favorite! What you’ll write down is: 

  1. Your Word-of-the-Year
  2. The personal and personal goal that you're working towards
  3. Three things that you’re grateful for
  4. Two tasks you’ll accomplish that day that will get you closer to your goal
  5. Your daily affirmation

One thing that I LOVE about Burned-In Teacher University is that in every lesson there’s an affirmation that you can use to continue to move forward on your journey out of burnout. 

I also want to encourage you to do an evening check-in as well. At the end of the day, reflect on:

  1. What went well
  2. What didn’t go so well
  3. What can you do better tomorrow

There are SO MANY more things in the book that will support you in initiating lasting change in your life! If you haven’t already, make sure you’ve read Hack 7, or, if you have already, read through it again! 

Alright, that’s it!  

Join us next week for the LAST meeting of the Hacking Teacher Burnout Summer Book Study Series!  Prepare, read through, and complete the activities in the book study guide for Hack 8! 


  1. Use backward design to break your long-term goals into smaller tasks you can accomplish daily.
  2. Schedule time to start your own weekly-planning ritual.
  3. Check-in with yourself daily to ensure that you’re still moving forward toward your goals





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