Self-Discipline and Achieving your Goals


It’s common knowledge that Self Discipline is the key to all success. If we can’t discipline ourselves to get started and to keep going when it gets hard, then we will never complete anything. In The Importance of Planning we learned, after we had completed all the planning, we have to implement the plan. This can often be the hardest part of achieving our goals. Before we start planning we are so keen to get started, that we try and short-circuit the planning process. However, we know that often leads to half completed projects. So, using our self-discipline, we go through the planning process. But then we stop. Why?

Self-Discipline Achieves the Insurmountable

We stop at the implementation stage of our plans for a three reasons

  1. Mental Exhaustion – After expending all our energy on planning we have no energy to actually implement it.
  2. Fear – We all have a fear of failure, what if we made a mistake during our planning and we get stuck halfway through?
  3. Climbing Mount Everest – At the start of a project, it looks like there is so much to do, that it’s so hard to accomplish. So, we tell our selves we will do it later.

Mental Exhaustion is easy to deal with, take a break, go for a holiday, do anything fun that we don’t have to use our brains for. For our other two reasons, we need self-discipline.

Dealing with Fear

The fear of failure delays more projects than we can possibly be aware of (including this website). Dealing with Fear, we need to discipline our selves to start anyway. Take a deep breath and remind yourself, “No plan survives first contact with the enemy. My plan is subject to change when I discover new information. I will negotiate each roadblock as it comes up.” Every time you think you need to stop and identify fear as the reason, repeat this mantra, then immediately perform some action from your plan. The more you do the things you fear, the less the fear controls you.

Climbing Mount Everest (Avoiding Hard Work)

This is where self-discipline is really necessary. When our plan is complete, and all the resources are in place, the only thing delaying our success is our own laziness. Often, this is because now we see how much work is needed to achieve the goal. So, because it looks like a lot of hard work, we avoid starting. To overcome this, focus on the individual tasks. Tell yourself, “I am going to start today!” Then do the first task. Tick it off your list, and start the second task. As you complete tasks, you will develop a momentum. This momentum will motivate you to keep going. The hardest part is starting and the only thing stopping you starting, is yourself.

Tricking Yourself

There are a number of ways to “trick” yourself to stay motivated. The essence of self-discipline is doing what you need to do when you need to do it. However, most of us (me included) lack the fortitude to just do it. To just wake up in the morning, start working, get everything done, then go to bed.  One of the ways I trick my self is Daily Affirmations and Daily Goal Setting.

Daily Affirmations are a set of three to seven values or behaviours you want to be better at. If you write these out every day, the cumulative effect is reprogramming your brain. Write your affirmations in the first person as if you already have the attribute you are writing about. For instance “I am proud of my achievements.”

Daily Goal setting is espoused by Brian Tracy. Daily Goal Setting is similar to Daily Affirmations, however, you are writing out ten goals that you wish to achieve. Write each of these goals as a SMART Goal. By writing the ten SMART Goals that you most want to achieve every day, you are more likely to take action on them.


No endeavour succeeds without self-discipline. You need self-discipline to keep going when things go wrong. You need self-discipline to actually begin. By doing what you need to do when you need to do it, you will achieve your goals.

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