10 habits of disciplined people for achieving success

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Have you ever met a person who’s always on the ball, their life in perfect order?

You’ve probably thought to yourself, “That could never be me. It’s just their innate nature to be incredibly disciplined.”

Stop right there!

Discipline can be taught. You are not a lost case just because you’ve never used a habit tracker. In fact, there are specific habits that disciplined people tend to incorporate into their daily life that you can implement, too.

Sometimes, it’s not about your personality. It’s about knowing how to work with who you are in order to reach your goals.

These are the 10 habits of disciplined people for achieving success.

1) They take active steps to make stuff happen

If there’s one thing my friends always compliment me on, it’s my discipline. I take after my mom – she’s always conquering her records, moving the limit a little higher, and working hard to reach her targets.

I’ve always found it incredibly inspiring, so I copied her.

And over time, I realized that the most major difference between disciplined people and others is that they don’t just sit around waiting for victories to fall from the sky.

Disciplined people look at their goal and think through all the steps they need to take in order to get there. Then they take it step by step, actively moving towards their dreams.

Meanwhile, people who lack discipline just…keep on dreaming.

2) They keep up their momentum

Motivation is a tricky beast. You won’t feel motivated every day, and it’s precisely on those days that people tend to give up and return to the status quo.

But disciplined people know how to hack the system. They know it’s not about motivation – it’s about momentum.

The moment you build up a sense of flow, you don’t need to force yourself to do stuff. You simply do it automatically, like making yourself breakfast or brushing your teeth.

It becomes a part of who you are.

I first read about the power of momentum in James Clear’s Atomic Habits. He says he uses the 2-Day Rule to keep himself in the flow – he simply never misses twice.

If you want to exercise every day and find it difficult, feel free to skip once. But you can never skip twice, because once you do, you’re building a new habit – the one of not working out.

This way, you’ll move your body at least every other day, which is much better than, uhm, never.

3) They don’t wait for the muse to strike

If you wait for a sudden burst of inspiration before you sit down and write a novel, you’ll never finish it.

Discipline is about pushing through the voice at the back of your mind that says, “I’m just not feeling it… would it be so bad not to do it?”

Yes, it would. If you’ve already skipped once, it’s time to get out there and do it.

My mum always says, “I really didn’t want to go jogging today. But I knew I’d be mad at myself if I stayed home, and I knew I’d feel amazing if I went. So I went. And now I feel great.”

To be disciplined, you’ve got to focus on the long-term rewards. You’ve got to forego the momentary pleasure and recognize that getting started is the hardest bit.

Everything that follows is much easier.

4) They use organizational tools to their advantage

So, we’ve concluded that you can’t rely on pure motivation to get stuff done.

What do you do instead?

Here’s where organizational tools come in. As far as discipline goes, technology is your best ally – and your worst enemy if you let it.

There are plenty of tools out there that’ll make your life much easier, helping you stay on track. Trello boards, Notion templates, Pomodoro apps, Google Calendar, Excel habit trackers.

And that’s just five options out of hundreds.

Personally, I love habit trackers because they give me extra dopamine each time I do something that’s good for me. There’s no better feeling than keeping up a streak of meditation for two weeks straight.

When you use tools like these, you’re essentially making your life into a game where you collect points and level up. It’s an amazing motivator.

5) They implement self-control and rewards

External rewards work in a similar way. Obviously, your motivation should be largely internal – meaning that the activity itself is fulfilling and fun – but you can’t always rely on that to keep you going.

So, what do disciplined people do?

They impose their own rules and rewards on themselves. For instance, people who work from home can say, “I’ll work until 2 PM and then I’m free to chill out for an hour.”

This not only motivates them but it also ensures they take a proper break.

Which brings us to another habit…

6) They take proper breaks

I used to curse myself for taking a break and resting. I used to think it was a waste of time.

I was terribly wrong.

Breaks are essential, and I’ll tell you why. You can’t work at 100% if you’re not charged up to 100%.

If you take a break today, you’ll be better for it tomorrow.

The key to resting properly? Let go of guilt. No, you shouldn’t be doing anything else. No, this isn’t the right time to obsess over work.

You deserve to rest. Allow yourself to just…let it all go.

7) They work with their energy levels

Disciplined and successful people know when to take a break because they’re in sync with their natural flow of energy.

As you go through the day, your energy fluctuates. Women are also influenced by their monthly cycles, which means one week might be better for quiet self-reflection and another for jam-packed action.

If you often go through the afternoon slump, schedule the easiest bits of work for then. If your fitness seems best at 7 PM rather than 7 AM, go to the gym at the end of the day instead of forcing yourself to get up early and hate every second of your workout.

Work with what you have. Not against it. It’s much easier to stay disciplined if you actually have the energy for it.

8) They use their environment effectively

As you can see, it’s all about tweaking the reality around you and within you to make your brain cooperate.

And your environment is no exception.

What’s around you matters. If you set a bowl of sweets on your desk, you’ll probably eat them all by the end of the day. If you put a water bottle there instead, you’ll drink more and do something great for your health.

If I’m planning to do yoga the next morning, I put my yoga mat in the middle of the living room and my workout clothes next to my bed.

This decreases what James Clear calls “friction” – the effort it takes to move from one habit to another.

Make it as easy as possible to keep up your habits. That’s the secret to discipline.

9) They set SMART goals

The key to making things easy is clarity. Confusing and frustrating is hard. Clear and organized is easy.

This is why SMART goals are so amazing. SMART stands for:

  • S – specific
  • M – measurable
  • A – achievable
  • R – relevant
  • T – time-bound

If you say you’ll start working on your side hustle sometime this year, you might never do it.

But if you tell yourself, “I will create a blog that has new weekly content on it by the end of October 2023,” you’re already looking at a much more concrete picture.

Ideally, you should also figure out how to get there. For instance, say, “I will achieve this goal by putting at least five hours of work per week into this side hustle.”

And just like that, you know where you’re going and how to get there. Now you’ve just got to start.

10) They celebrate small victories

Discipline is about perseverance. It’s about believing in yourself even when you can’t see an end in sight. It’s about focusing on the larger picture.

One big win is made up of hundreds of tiny victories along the way. Your sixth book might be a bestseller, but you wouldn’t get to that place in your life if you didn’t write all the five books preceding it.

Disciplined people know this. They know success is a combination of hard work and determination.

And they know that every step forward matters, no matter how small.

So make yours count. 

Denisa Cerna

Hi! I’m a fiction author and a non-fiction freelance writer with a passion for personal development, mental health, and all things psychology. I have a graduate degree in Comparative Literature MA and I spend most of my time reading, travelling, and – shocker – writing. I’m always on a quest to better understand the inner workings of the human mind and I love sharing my insights with the world. If any of my articles change your life for the better… mission accomplished.
Get in touch at denisacerna.writing@gmail.com or find me on LinkedIn.

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