Do You Have Enough Self-Discipline To Succeed?

We must all suffer one of two things:  the pain of discipline or the pain of regret and disappointment.” – Jim Rohn

Last week I began a series of articles on the Six Elements that all successful people have. We started with Commitment and Focus. Today, we will look at Discipline and Follow-Through. Without it, we won't make much progress.


It’s the fire inside of you to get things done, that pushes you through the hard times, and gives you the energy to keep going even when you can’t be bothered.

It's the training of the mind and body to go beyond perceived limitations.

It's the essence of anything we do to be successful at anything!

Do you feel you have a high level of self-discipline to achieve your dreams? 

We may want something badly, but we may not be willing to take the necessary steps to achieve it, and we often self-sabotage instead of being self-disciplined.

I’m just as guilty as the next one of saying I’ll do something and don’t’ follow-through to take the right actions that will achieve the right results. But eventually I’m going to take a decision that will tell me either do it or don’t, but make a choice. And when that choice is made, I’m ready.

Self-discipline is the ability to take action regardless of your current emotional state, or your circumstances.

Self-discipline can empower you to achieve great things, lose weight, overcome your addictions, and wipe out procrastination, disorder and chaos.

Think of self-discipline as a muscle. If you use it, it will get stronger. If you lie in bed all day, it will atrophy, and you’ve got nothing left to work with. 

In martial arts, I had to develop strong legs and arms to cope with the continuous battering they took during training. As a 130lb woman whacking a 300lb bag with my legs, or doing thousands of repetitious kicks, punches and stances that were designed to toughen me up, there were a few times when I wanted to say “fugget about it” My teacher in Paris used to have me kick his legs, which were like brick towers because of his years of training.

Discipline doesn’t come naturally to most people. We have to cultivate it. It takes muscle to build muscle, and with discipline it takes discipline to make it stronger. Once you reach one level of discipline you have it within you to take it to the next level.

Which is why you don’t want to try to change your habits overnight.

It takes time to change things up, to develop the necessary discipline you need to overcome the obstacles that are currently holding you back. But just because you’re not disciplined right now, doesn’t mean you don’t have it in you to change that.

Start slow, building slowly. Just as you wouldn’t jump into the gym and lift 80lbs of weight, you would start with 5lbs and move upwards from there, taking note of how much better you are becoming.

  • How disciplined do you feel today? 
  • How disciplined have you been in the last week? With your diet, exercise, your workload, your commitment to achieving certain goals? Inconsistent? 
  • How well organized are you? If you’re not, what discipline do you need to be better organized?
  • How many hours of focused work do you complete each day?
  •  Do you have clear, written goals that you can refer to each day, each week, each year?

While building your career, or taking on new opportunities, it may take time to reach the goals you have in mind and with the principles of commitment, focus, discipline and follow-through you are setting yourself up for success.


As you may notice, I use the example of my martial arts training quite often when talking about the 6 Elements of Success, and particularly so with Follow-Through.

Think about this. I’m confronted with a fight. I’m either going to run away (smart idea!), but if I’m going to take on the fight, I’ve got to commit to the actions, be focused on my opponent, have the instinctive discipline of thousands of hours of training behind me, and I must follow through with all of this to achieve the result of winning the fight. I can’t just give up half-way through, or I’ll get killed.

You may be a good starter, but are you a good finisher? 

So many times we have lots of good ideas, but these ideas get buried, lost or ignored because we don’t take advantage of the opportunity to connect, to create or to ship.

I love Seth Godin’s rants about “ship it.” We wait too long. We wait for perfection. We wait for someone else to take the required action. And we waste a tremendous opportunity to do something magnificent because we’re scared, or we’re lazy, or we’re too uncaring to make a difference in the world.

Are you good about following up? 

Do you answer your emails on time? Do you network with referral partners then do nothing? Do you have great plans but the execution of them falls by the wayside? 

Do you feel your follow-through could be better?

I’ll bet you do, because we are all lousy at it, including me, but I’m working hard on developing better habits to get the results I'm looking for. 

We all have good intentions, but these get scattered to the wind like dandelion flowers. We lose interest, we find other things to do (distraction/procrastination), or we simply feel that we’ve got too much on our desk right now, and don’t have the time.

But do you know how much this hurts your business? Do you know what opportunities you’ve missed because you can’t be bothered, or because you think it’s not important?  

If you can’t follow-through then don’t start something. Don’t spend hours of your time going out to network events without doing something about that valuable connection. Don’t think you’ll get to it tomorrow without having a plan on how you’re going to do that, or who you’re doing it with.

If you have trouble making the commitment, staying focused and being disciplined about your actions, then create a system that will help you.

The essential questions you need to ask yourself at all times are these: 

  • Why am I doing what I’m doing? 
  • To what purpose is this action? 
  • Does this make sense? 
  • What results do I want? 

Then take some time to sit in quiet place, without distraction, and begin to think about what it takes to get there.  Remind yourself of the bigger picture. Be proactive and be consistent (more on that next week).

In the moments of wanting to give up, don’t. 

This is your dream, your goal. You can achieve what you want when you have the courage to commit, stay focused, be disciplined and follow-through.

There will always be walls that challenge you.

I met them frequently during my martial arts training and later, Crossfit workouts.  These were the Walls of Opportunity. If I gave up before I went through it, over it, under it, or around it, I would never become more resilient, more courageous, more open to the opportunities that are all around me.

Pushing yourself beyond your current state of existence is the key here. Commit to the action. Focus on what you desire and the necessary actions you will take. Dedicate yourself to the discipline to do what must be done, and then follow-through on next steps. 

What are your next steps?

With Transformational Strategies for Success you will take ownership of your amazing skills and talents, be more confident in your choices and claim more authority at work, so you can find greater confidence and comfort across all dimensions of your career and be more passionate about the life you live.

Related: How Do You Stay Focused On Your Goals?