Self-discipline is an important trait to develop, no matter your career level or industry. It’s the key to achieving personal goals and career success.

In this article, we discuss what it means to be self-disciplined and how you can improve this trait in your professional life.

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Self-discipline is the ability to focus on a task or goal with the purpose of achieving a certain result. Much like other qualities that might contribute to your overall success, self-discipline produces sustainable success over time. Self-disciplined individuals commonly rely on a group of supporting traits, such as:


In the workplace, self-discipline promotes the kind of habits and mindset that help you complete tasks, surpass milestones and reach specific goals.


Self-discipline is typically a learned behavior that people refine over time through repetition. You can use the following proven methods to increase self-discipline:


Challenge your perceptions. Often it’s our perception of limitations that provide the first barrier to achieving our goals. Taking time to challenge what you think you can and can’t do can be a good first step to self-discipline.Find motivational activities. If you’re finding it hard to concentrate on a certain task or project, find ways to refocus your attention. Sometimes it is beneficial to step away from your work to take a walk or do another activity for a short time. Then return to your work with new energy and motivation.

Practice comfort with failure. Being more disciplined also requires that you forgive your own shortcomings. Even with the best intentions, you will sometimes fall short or even fail, but the idea is to be resilient and keep moving forward. Learn from your mistakes and continue your work with more knowledge.


Honing self-discipline is a challenge, but performing easy exercises, developing repetitive behaviors and becoming disciplined in a single area can help you move onto the next challenge. Start small and settle into daily habits that make you feel accomplished.

Here are some helpful tips for building self-discipline:


Make practice a habit. As with any skill, you'll need to practice self-discipline on a daily basis. Be clear about your expectations of yourself on the job and how you plan to meet the goals for which you are responsible. Breaking down your work hours into segments can help you focus on certain tasks. Additionally, breaking your longer-term goals into milestones can help you stay motivated by celebrating small wins along the way.Focus on one self-discipline skill at a time. There are many traits you can develop that lead to increased self-discipline but focus on one area to improve at a time. For example, you might choose to focus on getting more organized and then later focus on goal setting.Define your expectations clearly. What do you expect from yourself in terms of achieving goals at work? What do you expect from others who can support you? How do you plan to support them? Clarifying your expectations of yourself and others can focus your efforts, making self-discipline more achievable.

Remember that failure is part of succeeding. Self-discipline doesn't require perfection. You will fail or fall short of setting habits or reaching goals and that's okay. Failure is a natural part of succeeding. The idea is to keep moving forward and moving closer to your goals. Recognize your failures, reward your successes and don't give up.


Making small actions a habit can help you become more self-disciplined at work. While these may not all be related specifically to your responsibilities on the job, they can support your efforts to maintain a disciplined mental state. Here are several exercises you can try incorporating into your daily schedule:


Make your bed.When you make your bed first thing in the morning, you start the day by accomplishing a task before you get to work. The feeling of a small accomplishment before your workday starts can lead to a more productive and disciplined state of mind.Eliminate distractions.Avoid distractions that take time away from your goals. This can include small actions like putting your phone in your desk drawer, using a social media monitor or blocker, or simply reserving a certain amount of time on your calendar to focus on a task. You can also eliminate distractions by having a set schedule, maintaining a clean workspace and getting enough sleep every night. Adding positive distractions might also be beneficial, such as listening to background music to help you drown out office noises. Practice gratitude.Taking time to recognize small wins or points of joy throughout your day can help you increase and maintain motivation. You might consider making it a practice to write down three things you are grateful for at the end of each day. Revisit your goals regularly.Keeping your goals in mind can help you stay motivated and disciplined. Write down your goals and display them on your desk or computer. Make time to celebrate small wins and passing key milestones.
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