The single most important attribute to becoming successful is self-discipline. It helps you stay focused on reaching your goals, gives you the gumption to stick with difficult tasks, and allows you to overcome obstacles and discomfort as you push yourself to new heights.

What exactly is self-discipline? It’s the ability to control your impulses, emotions, reactions and behaviors; it allows you to forego short-term gratification in favor of long-term satisfaction and gain. It’s saying “no” when you really want to say “yes.” It isn’t about leading a restrictive and boring life void of enjoyment. In fact, it’s next to impossible to be self-disciplined in all areas of your life. Rather than attempting to be disciplined in all you do, use it to focus on what’s most important.

Want to be more disciplined? Try some of these tips:

  1. You can’t achieve your goals without discipline, so supplement your goal list with a self-discipline list; it will keep you focused on the behaviors and tasks needed to achieve what you want. For example, one of my goals is to be more visible to our customers. My discipline list includes things like “call three customers per week” and “send five thank you cards per month.” Do the things on this list without fail.
  2. Use a daily “to do” list to keep track of what you need to get done to achieve your goals. Try using online tools to make daily checklists to organize and prioritize. It feels good to check the little boxes when you’ve completed a task; it may even motivate you to finish one more thing on your list at the end of the day just to feel the satisfaction of checking another box. Make sure your “to do” list coincides with your discipline list so you stay on track.
  3. Figure out what your barriers to success are. For example, I’m easily distracted by emails, meetings and people walking into my office; to reach my goal of more customer contact, I close my office door as soon as I get to work and make calls, send thank you notes and answer emails sent from customers. I then check it off my “to do” list and move on with my day. Trying to lose weight? Get the junk food out of your house. Want to be more productive at work? Close your email application and only check your emails twice per day. Want to get in shape? Get up early and work out so you don’t lose motivation when you are tired at the end of the day. Minimize or remove all temptations and distractions to reach your most important goals.
  4. Share your goals with others. It’s easier to stick with something when you’ve made a public commitment; the thought of failing in front of others can be motivation to stick with it. These people can help hold you accountable, too.
  5. I know the saying goes, “Don’t do it for others; do it for yourself,” but I have found I am much more disciplined when I consider how my actions, behaviors, emotions and impulses affect others. Contrary to popular belief, it’s OK to use external sources to drive motivation. In fact, sometimes external motivators are more powerful than internal ones. Find purpose beyond yourself to create a higher chance of success.
  6. You create discipline by creating habits. Once something becomes a habit, you no longer need willpower to force yourself to do it. For example, one of my goals was to do more yoga. I made a commitment to do it 30 minutes a day for 30 days. I saw such benefits that I stuck with it. Now I get up an hour earlier in the morning to start my day off with an hour of yoga … without having to set an alarm.
  7. Stop making excuses. Don’t wait for tomorrow; do it now. Fall off the wagon? Start over immediately. Quit telling yourself something is too hard or that you can’t change. Don’t blame other people for your circumstances. Excuse-making is the killer of self-discipline. Achieve more by adopting an “I can do this” mindset.

You are the master of your destiny, the creator of your life. If you want your destiny to look and feel a certain way, then you must develop the discipline to get there. While it seems counterintuitive, you will find yourself happier and healthier the more self-disciplined you become.

For more information, contact Kerry Siggins at To read or sign up for her blog, visit