A friend of mine once asserted that all that really matters is whether the job got done or not. While this is not true ethically, or in reality, it is still a good mantra to study and consider. I don't suggest you look at this from the viewpoint of: "How can I make sure that the people in my life do what they promise to me (and what I tell them to)?", but instead more along the lines of, "Oh, so this is the sort of thing I might expect to hear from others!" In business and personal worlds, we are often judged by what we get done and how well we please the people who have power over our lives—whether it be in the workplace or whether it be from family or a personal relationship. The truth is that if you want to have strong success, then you will need to develop the discipline to do what you say and get your work finished (correctly).

The truth is that some people have an easier time than others based on random events (and catastrophes) they experience throughout their lives. With strong discipline, however, you begin to overcome the obstacles in your way and take advantage of all the good fortune. Hard work and discipline, unfortunately, can't be exchanged directly as a commodity for money and friends, so some people will simply have to work harder. You will be rewarded everything you can have, however, if you work hard, organize yourself, and take responsibility for you failures (and successes).

People do want results, and business-minded people are always trying to find ways to guarantee money invested in a human being will produce reliable output (and also to find ways to get more for less). If you have this arrangement (and most bosses do have bosses) and you want to be successful, then you will need to give your employers some strong, tangible, and fair results for their investment in you. Participating in a relationship and friendship comes attached with expectations as well. Those close to you will want certain behaviors or emotional investment from you—and this will change from person to person, obviously. In relationships it's also your responsibility to find out what he or she wants and work hard to live up to those expectations as they are reasonable. Some people will require too much or never be satisfied, but that's another topic for discussion.

How do you get discipline then? You get discipline by:

  1. Understanding what your responsibilities are - Many people really aren't aware of their responsibilities or don't care
  2. Becoming invested in the success or failure of those responsibilities - If you don't take personal pride in your work or reputation then you will be struggling to keep your projects (and relationships) intact
  3. Organizing your work (and changing your environment to facilitate it) - Organizing all aspect of your work sufficiently—from finishing each responsibility in the right order to performing them correctly—is necessary to perform reliably
  4. Accounting for it – Notice (and possibly record) when you do good job and when you fail
  5. Taking responsibility for the outcome, and for the work involved in fixing errors – Don't pass the blame simply to make yourself look better, and fix anything that goes awry even when it isn't your fault

(Note: I haven't spoken much on the self-discipline required to, say, lose weight or quit smoking, but if these goals also fit well into the list up above.)

These activities will help you build discipline:


  • Make Your Own Records: This site has you keep records to help ensure your success with building upon your virtues. Why not make tailored lists that apply to your specific needs of everyday life? Did you finish this project? Did you return all your emails? Did you walk the dog twice a day? Did you spend time with the children? Did you express love to your spouse? These are just some examples of the types of common responsibilities you might face in your life.
  • Find a Planning System that Works for You: And then stick with it. This might be a calendar, a checklist, a bulletin board, alarms on your cell phone, etc. Work on keeping this up—make maintaining organizational tool to complete goals another personal goal as well—and keep on doing it until it becomes a habit. This might take months.
  • Examine Your Routine: Start consciously thinking about your daily routine, and what events lead you to doing your better work and what tends to encourage your procrastination. Start making decisions and changing your environment based on these observations.
  • Keep You Biggest Goals in Mind: People like to read trade magazines about their line of work. They believe they do this in order to keep up on the latest news, but often-times these magazines serve as a tool to keep their job fresh on their minds and maintain some excitement. This works all over the board. Learning more about health and exercise repeatedly helps you follow through on a diet. Daily work (and education) toward your relationships will prevent you from letting them fall to the wayside and losing both your personal connection and investment toward them. This can make or break your success on keeping a commitment.

Your Record

Find out what your important responsibilities are and mark yourself at "fault" every time you fail to live up to them. Every time you forget a responsibility due to carelessness, mark yourself at fault. Make goals based on the activities above. If you fail to follow through or reach your goals, mark yourself at fault.


No evil propensity of the human heart is so powerful that it may not be subdued by discipline.

Seneca, Roman Philosopher

He that cannot obey, cannot command.

Benjamin Franklin, Renown American Founding Father, Philosopher, Inventor, and Writer

We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.

Jim Rohn, American Speaker and Author

Discipline is remembering what you want.

David Campbell, Australian Singer and Stage Performer

Right discipline consists, not in external compulsion, but in the habits of mind which lead spontaneously to desirable rather than undesirable activities.

Bertrand Russell, English Logician and Philosopher

Golden Mean

Pedantry, Unimaginativeness

Recommended Reading

The Art of Exceptional Living — by Jim Rohn

This is an audio CD by speaker Jim Rohn. While the topic doesn't focus solely on discipline, it includes many tips for living a successful and productive life in general.

Self-Discipline in 10 Days: How to Go from Thinking to Doing — by Theodore Bryant

How to Go from Thinking to Doing: This book is about self-discipline in general, and works a bit more like a workbook than an inspirational text, which might be more to your liking (since the object is all about "doing" anyway).

General Rules

Practice virtues daily so that they become ‘habits of the heart’.

Don‘t strive for perfection.

Never give up! Remember: even the greats have off days.

Rely on your intuition.

Avoid extremes. Strive to achieve the golden mean between excess and deficiency of a virtue.

Have fun and enjoy the program with humor and optimism.

We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons. Jim Rohn