Self-Discipline: What You Need to Develop Character and Success

In a world that suggests doing what you want, when you want is a true expression of freedom and independence, it’s no wonder many people today don’t understand the concept of developing true character and success.

I admit the “D” word—discipline—is not my favorite, but that doesn’t change the natural law that discipline is required to develop true character and to realize the successes people want in their lives. Further, self-discipline, when effectively executed in one area, can be easily transferred to other, and all, areas.

For this article’s sake, let’s view self-discipline as a positive trait that, when properly applied, contributes to the achievement of what one truly values.

How you show up anywhere in your life is how you will show up everywhere in your life.

What does this mean? It means you assume your own level of self-discipline or character in whatever you do. Here are a few examples of a lack of self-discipline:

  • You are not disciplined to regularly save or invest a percentage of your income.
  • You eat without discretion—whatever, whenever, how much you want—and your body and health are suffering.
  • You don’t exercise regularly and you lack energy and feel fatigued.
  • You don’t discipline your children because it’s “too much work”; they are getting out of control.
  • You let your home and/or vehicle become cluttered and untidy, breeding chaos and confusion.
  • You are lazy in your personal self-management, including low levels of grooming/hygiene and/or attention to your appearance, and find you don’t command respect or set a good example for others.
  • You invest little or no time in your relationships and wonder if (or why) you are growing apart from your loved ones.
  • You are perpetually late for appointments, which lowers your credibility with others.

It’s pretty obvious how lack of self-discipline can come at great personal cost.

What can you do about it?

First, you need to alter your mindset and view self-discipline as the character trait required to get you where you want to go in life, rather than viewing it as a burden. It’s the price of admission to play well—and win. When you compromise this natural law, you will pay dearly.

Reframe self-discipline as the path to freedom and achievement. Self-discipline can become as natural as breathing, once you have made the decision to embrace it for what it is.

  • One of my good friends was diagnosed with Type II diabetes. His doctor said if he continued his lifestyle of overeating and no exercise, he would soon be dead. With 75 pounds to lose, he found the discipline necessary to obtain his objective overwhelming. One year later, however, he had shed 60 pounds and found the natural discipline to extend his life. In fact, although he still sometimes craves sugar, he can easily walk by the bakery department without compromising his diet. Can you imagine the satisfaction he feels after losing the weight and taking control of his health?

Discipline rewards you—not only with results, but also with fulfillment. Let’s take the points from the list of examples of lack of discipline and see how they look when you apply self-discipline:

  • You are setting aside money and investing so that when you retire, you will enjoy a comfortable lifestyle with no financial worries. That brings you peace.
  • You eat healthfully and feel good about maintaining a healthy weight and reducing your risk of disease.
  • With your regular exercise routine, you have the energy to fully engage in all that you want to do.
  • Your years of investing time with and disciplining your children are paying off as they grow into individuals of fine character.
  • By taking proper care of your home and other possessions, you feel proud of how you are representing your life and are noticing your material goods are lasting much longer.
  • Self-discipline in personal self-management has resulted in new levels of success. Your peers see you as a role model for how they should look and conduct themselves. While you feel proud of your accomplishments, you are also making a difference in other people’s lives.
  • You take time to talk and listen to your loved ones, making plans together and sharing both important and mundane moments of your lives, strengthening your relationships to bring you closer together.
  • You are always on time; people can count on you to do what you say you will do.

Without direction or goals, there will be little reason for you to stay disciplined. Being aware of the benefits of self-discipline will confirm your commitment to being a disciplined person.

This Week’s Action Steps

  1. Remember this, if nothing else: Discipline is the required behavior to realize your goals and dreams.
  2. Think about where in your life you lack self-discipline. Work, family, health, finances?
  3. Make a list of all areas in your life where you would like to become more self-disciplined.
  4. Ask close friends and family members to share where they observe in you a lack of discipline. This will take courage. You don’t have to agree with their lists, but you should know how others view your behavior. Many times, you can have blind spots. Add any appropriate areas to your list.
  5. Identify the payoff or benefit to you if you were to apply self-discipline to each of the areas on your list. Be specific. If the benefit is not inspiring or motivating enough for you to consider becoming a disciplined person, revise your list.
  6. Outline your strategies or plans to implement discipline into each item on your list. Start slow, and build over time.
  7. Do yourself a favor: Embrace self-discipline now. Not doing so can lead you down a disastrous path of self-destruction. Self-discipline brings with it character and the pride and satisfaction of accomplishment.

Until next time, keep Living On Purpose!

Ken Keis, Ph.D.
CRG Consulting Resource Group International, Inc.

Author Bio

Ken Keis, Ph.D., President of CRG, is a global expert on leadership, wellness, behavioral assessments, and life purpose. In 28 years, he has conducted over 3000 presentations and invested 10,000+ hours in consulting and coaching. Ken Keis is considered a foremost global authority on the way assessment strategies and processes increase and multiply success rates. He co-created CRG’s proprietary development models and has written over 4 million words of content for 40 business training programs and 400+ articles. His latest book, The Quest For Purpose: A Self-Discovery Process To Find It And Live It!,is available at

Posted in Wellness.