Excelerated Discipline™: The Path to Success

Discipline doesn’t have to be difficult if you start small, then ramp up gradually over time. Discipline isn’t difficult but it is essential.

Title Photo by KoolShooters

A Tale of Two Friends

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”. Oh, wait! We’ll get to that in a few minutes but let’s begin at the beginning: Once upon a time, in the quiet town of Progressville, there lived two friends – Paul and Pauline. Both had dreams and aspirations, and their dreams were similar: robust health, thriving careers, and meaningful relationships. However, their paths to these desired destinations took decidedly different turns and, as we shall see, led to markedly different results.

First, meet Paul, an easygoing and affable soul. His intentions were noble, but discipline eluded him like a mischievous sprite. Mornings were a chaotic rush, workouts were sporadic, and his desk at work looked as if it had just been hit by a paper tornado. Yet, Paul was blissfully unaware of the toll his lack of self-discipline was taking on his ambitions, his health, and his dreams.

On the other side of town lived Pauline, a model of order and determination. Her mornings began with the precision of a well-choreographed dance – a balanced breakfast, a morning jog, and a quiet moment of reflection. At work, Pauline’s desk was the epitome of orderliness, with a place for everything and everything in its place, a reflection of her disciplined mind. Her disciplined approach extended to all areas of her life, from her health to her work to her relationships.

As the years passed, this stark difference in approaches became evident. Despite his infectious charm, Paul found himself caught in a cycle of unfulfilled resolutions. Each January brought a new set of aspirations, only to be discarded like autumn leaves by March. His health plateaued, his career sputtered, and his relationships lacked the depth he craved.

Meanwhile, Pauline’s life unfolded like a well-written story. Over time, her consistent efforts bore fruit. Physically, she was vibrant – a prime example of the saying “health is wealth”. Professionally, she ascended the corporate ladder, each step the result of meticulous planning and unwavering effort. In her relationships, she cultivated bonds that echoed with trust, respect, and love.

When Paul and Pauline met at their favorite cafe, the contrast in their lives became palpable. Pauline’s eyes sparkled with vitality; Paul’s, though lively, held a glint of unfulfilled dreams. It was a moment of reckoning and sharp contrasts. The whims of fleeting desires versus the anchored resilience of disciplined habits were laid bare.

This is a tale not just of two friends but a parable that echoes the universal truth that the dance of success requires a partner named Discipline. Let’s explore the steps of self-discipline and the rhythms that can turn aspirations into achievements.

What Is Discipline?

“Self-Regulation is a complex character strength.”

The concept of self-regulation, or discipline, involves control of your emotions, your appetites, and your actions and reactions. With discipline, you do what you say you will do, most of the time. You learn to use routines and habits to help you do this.

Discipline brings a sense of order, balance, and control to our lives. It enables us to build confidence in our ability to set and achieve BIG (Bold-Important-Gratifying) goals. It brings a sense of order and balance and allows us to accept and effectively deal with the inevitable disappointments and setbacks.

In short, discipline, and specifically Excelerated Discipline™, is a key for success.

The Key for Success

“There is one special quality that you can develop that will guarantee you greater success, accomplishment, and happiness in life. Of a thousand principles for success developed over the ages, this one quality or practice will do more to assure that you accomplish wonderful things with your life than anything else. This quality is so important that, if you don’t develop it to a high degree, it is impossible for you to ever achieve what you are truly capable of achieving.” ~ Brian Tracy

And what is this “one special quality”? It’s “the quality of self-discipline. It is a habit, a practice, a philosophy and a way of living . . .” [Tracy]

As you can see, discipline isn’t about following orders, although it can sometimes be that. But it’s more an internal choice [Mapes], something we choose to do, we learn to do, to help us become excellent human beings, giving our best in Service to the world.

“Think of self-discipline as the one life skill that gives you the power and ability to work toward your true aspirations,” writes Giovanni Dienstmann in Mindful Self-Discipline. It is the skill that allows you to resist “the diversion” of short-term pleasure in favor of the long-term gratification that comes from achieving your goals and from the knowledge that you are in charge of your own desires and actions. [Seligman]

So, if you want to “accomplish wonderful things with your life”, here is the place to start.

Benefits of Discipline

“Here’s the key formula for success: a few disciplines practiced every day. Those disciplines have to be well-thought out. What should you spend your time doing? You don’t want to waste your time on things that aren’t going to matter. But a few simple disciplines can change your whole economic future. A few simple disciplines can change your future with your family, your business, your enterprise, your career. Success is a few simple habits—good habits—repeated every day.” [Rohn]

Here are some of the benefits you will experience when you practice Excelerated Discipline™.

  • Improved Self-esteem: Meeting personal commitments and overcoming obstacles through discipline boosts your confidence and self-esteem. It reinforces your belief in your abilities to succeed.
  • Improved Productivity: By embracing discipline, you better manage time, prioritize tasks, and avoid procrastination. This results in increased productivity and efficiency.
  • Enhanced Health and Well-being: When you practice discipline, you often make healthier lifestyle choices, such as regular exercise, a balanced diet, and getting adequate sleep. All of these contribute to overall physical and mental well-being.
  • Greater Resilience: Developing discipline fosters resilience in dealing with challenges and setbacks. It helps you persevere in the face of obstacles and maintain a positive outlook during difficult times.
  • Better Relationships: Discipline extends to interpersonal relationships by promoting effective communication, respect for others’ boundaries, and the ability to manage conflicts constructively. This leads to stronger and more fulfilling relationships.
  • Achievement of Goals: Discipline enables you to stay focused and motivated, thereby leading to the accomplishment of short-term and long-term goals.
  • Financial Stability: Practicing discipline in financial matters, such as budgeting, saving, and avoiding impulse purchases, contributes to long-term financial stability and security.
discipline: path to success

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

The Path to Discipline

“What you do speaks so loudly,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson, “that I cannot hear what you say.” Discipline is necessary to bring beliefs and behaviors into alignment. Consider this:

“Imagine for a moment that you will have a guest accompanying you throughout your day tomorrow. This person’s task will be to follow you around from the moment you wake up until the moment you fall asleep. They will take copious notes about your schedule, how you interact with your family and friends, how you engage in your tasks and projects, and your mind-set through it all. Once the day is over, this person will spend the next few days processing their observations, draw conclusions about your motivations, and compile their notes into a book about you that will stand as the definitive record of your life and work.

“How would you act differently tomorrow if you knew that your actions and attitude on that one day were going to be a permanent testament to your life? If you’re like many people to whom I’ve posed this question, you would probably get up a little earlier, pay extra attention to your family and the barista at Starbucks, be fully vested in every meeting, be meticulous in every task, call up an old friend for lunch, reconcile with an alienated colleague, and generally wrap up loose ends. Next I ask, ‘How does your imagined behavior compare with how you are actually living your life today?'” [Henry]

So, how do you make your actions and your day follow more closely to your best self? Here are some ideas.

Have Clear Goals

“Without self-discipline, the loftiest goal is just wishful thinking. With self-discipline, even a mediocre goal will take you somewhere.” [Dienstmann]

First, you must clearly define your objectives. You can’t hit a moving target, as the saying goes. Neither can you hit a non-existent one. Once you have a clearly defined objective, then you can begin to practice the discipline needed to begin moving toward it.


Put what matters most first. If you practice discipline and you’re going in the wrong direction, you just get lost faster. Discipline only helps if you’re doing the things that matter to you. Put first things first.

Break Big Tasks Into Small, Manageable Actions

Consider your BIG goal. (Don’t have a BIG goal? Maybe start here first.

Once you have a BIG goal, break it down into small, incremental steps or short-term goals.

Now, consider your next step. What is the next action you must do to accomplish this step? Break that action down to the smallest component you can think of. Then do that step. Do it again. Do it again

Keep at it, day by day. Once you’ve become comfortable with that, slightly increase the intensity or the duration or the frequency or, if appropriate, move to the next small step.

Build Momentum

When taking your small steps, be consistent. Consistency lets you tap into the power of momentum. Use these principles presented by Stephen Guise in The Magic of Momentum:

“Principle #1: you are most likely to do what you just did.
Principle #2: consistent action over time kills resistance (long-term momentum).”

Seek momentum daily. Treat today as “day 1” to generate short-term momentum. To get long-term momentum, you must first generate short-term momentum consistently. And short-term momentum requires a commitment to consistency. You consistently create short-term momentum, says Guise, with small commitments. [Guise]

Eliminate Distractions

“Philosophers have been worrying about distraction at least since the time of the ancient Greeks, who saw it less as a matter of external interruptions and more of a question of character – a systematic inner failure to use one’s time on what one claimed to value most. Their reason for treating distractions so seriously was straightforward, and it’s the reason we ought to do so, too: what you pay attention to will define, for you, what reality is.” [Burkeman]

Set aside time each day to work without distractions and interruptions, to focus on the next step to your BIG goal. Silence your phone or set it on “do not disturb”, turn off notifications, close e-mail and social media pages. Do what you need to do to eliminate distractions during your deep work time.

Build Habits

Habits are the magic that makes discipline easy to achieve. Instead of disciplining ourselves to behave a certain way, or to perform a certain action, let’s use our discipline to make the behavior or the action a habit. After that, it becomes automatic – no discipline required.

You can read much more about creating habits here and here

Take Disciplined Action

“Disciplined, consistent, and persistent actions are more of a determining factor in the creation of success than any other combination of things.” ~ Grant Cardone

Discipline and action go hand in hand. Without action, there’s no need for discipline (even if the action is refraining from doing something). Without discipline, you are not likely to perform a desired action enough to gain momentum and turn it into a habit.

The secret? Take action as soon as possible. You don’t have to be too hasty, that can lead to mistakes. But don’t dawdle either. You’ll lose your momentum, your focus, and even your desire to perform the action. You get tangled up in the “Law of Diminishing Intent”. The longer you wait and the further you get from the initial moment of inspiration, the less likely you’ll be to actually perform the action.

So put your ideas into disciplined action when your desire to do them is strong and powerful. Be disciplined. Be consistent. Be persistent. That is putting discipline to work.

Be Patient and Persist

Without discipline, you are not likely to accomplish anything of value, at least not purposefully. “Without discipline,” writes John C. Maxwell in How Successful People Grow, “you can’t grow or accomplish anything of value.” It takes effort. It takes persistence. And it takes perseverance.

Perseverance has two factors – the effort to begin a task and the willingness and ability to stick with the task until it is completed. Without some measure of perseverance, you won’t persist when difficulties are encountered, as they almost always are. Too little persistence and you’ll abandon your goal at the first obstacle.

However, perseverance has a dark side. Rely on or use it too much and you risk becoming obsessive about a goal. “Any goal at all costs” is not a realistic picture of perseverance. Perseverance is not the obsessive pursuit of an unattainable goal. “The truly industrious person is flexible, realistic, and not perfectionistic.” [Seligman]

Practice Discipline

Some researchers have found that willpower is like a muscle and that discipline can be improved through practice. Therefore, practicing discipline can increase your ability to exert your discipline. Just keep in mind that it’s discipline “practice”, not discipline “perfect”. Be aware that you’ll sometimes fail; just be ready to get up and try again.

One proven way to match behavior and discipline is to use implementation intentions. Implementation intentions help you decide in advance the behavior you want to perform in a given situation. They specify when, where, and how you will take the actions that lead to the desired behavior. It’s a proven, effective technique to increase your chances of remembering to do the behavior in a specific situation.

Implementation intentions are in the form of an “If . . . then” statement: “If situation x occurs, then I will perform response y”. [Gollwitzer] Implementation intentions are most effective when they are specific, realistic, and time-bound. The more specific you can be about the situation and the behavior, the more likely you are to follow through. They help you create specific plans that link situations with desired behaviors. These plans can significantly increase the likelihood of following through on your intentions, achieving your goals, and putting your self-discipline into action.

And then reward desired behaviors. It doesn’t have to be complicated but do it immediately after the behavior to create positive emotions. Here are some suggestions from BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits:

  • “Say ‘Yes!’ while you do a fist pump.
  • Drum a happy beat on a wall or desk.
  • Smile big.
  • Do a double thumbs-up.
  • Clench your fist and say ‘Yes!'” [Fogg]

See Fogg’s Tiny Habits for 95 more ways to “celebrate and feel shine”.

Commit to Discipline

“Success does not come from discipline, but from developing a habit of doing the right thing. You need discipline to establish that habit, but, on average, a habit takes only about 66 days to establish – a pretty fast track to success. Then, use ‘selected discipline’ to simplify your life. Ditch your concerns for everything but your one thing.” [Keller]

“I finish what I start.” Isn’t that an inspiring statement? It can easily describe you when you begin practicing Excelerated Discipline™. As we’ve seen, discipline doesn’t have to be difficult if you start small, then ramp up gradually over time. It isn’t difficult but it is essential. It is one step – a necessary step – in embracing your Excelerated Life™!

What one step could you take to become a bit more disciplined?
Share your comments by leaving a post below.

Excelerated Discipline™ — doing what you say you will do — is one practice for creating your Excelerated Life™, a life of flourishing and well-being, and a life of meaning, purpose, and service.

Read more about the Excelerated Life™.


Burkeman, Oliver. Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management For Mortals. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2021.
Dienstmann, Giovanni. Mindful Self-Discipline: Living Your Purpose and Achieving Your Goals in a World of Distraction. LiveAndDare Publications. 2021.
Fogg, Ph.D., BJ. Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2020.
Gollwitzer, Peter M. and John A. Bargh. Psychology of Action: Linking Cognition and Motivation to Behavior. New York: The Guilford Press, 1996.
Guise, Stephen. The Magic of Momentum. Selective Entertainment, LLC. 2022.
Henry, Todd. Die Empty – Unleash Your Best Work Every Day. New York: Penguin Books, 2013, 2015.
Keller, Gary with Jay Papasan. The ONE Thing: The Suprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results. Austin, TX: Bard Press, 2012.
Mapes, James J. Quantum Leap Thinking: An Owner’s Guide to the Mind. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks Inc., 2003.
Rohn, Jim. Leading an Inspired Life. Niles, IL: Nightingale-Conant Corporation, 1997.
Seligman, Ph.D., Martin E. P. Authentic Happiness. New York: Free Press, 2002.
Tracy, Brian. “Successful People Are Self Disciplined.” Brian Tracy International. Brian Tracy International,. Web. December 11, 2021.

This blog post includes research information and suggestions provided by ChatGPT, an AI language model developed by OpenAI. The content was generated with AI assistance and is intended to provide information and guidance. Please note that the suggestions are not official statements from OpenAI. To learn more about ChatGPT and its capabilities, you can visit the OpenAI website.

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