Have you ever abandoned a task or dream because of the overwhelming feeling of stress, self-doubt, or awareness that an alternative course might be easier, but less rewarding? Self-discipline mitigates those feelings, weaknesses, and temptations. In fact, self-discipline is perhaps one of the most important character traits for all people to display, both professionally and personally.

Unfortunately, increases in alcohol and drug abuse, acting upon temptations for personal gratification, and the willingness to violate one’s personal core values for self-serving financial gains are all results of a loss of individual self-discipline in our society. The ever-increasing advancements in media and internet technology only fuel the exposure to the lure of being distracted from one’s primary focus, a proper life path, and a difficult task at hand. It’s so easy to fall prey to what is easier and less stressful. A lack of self-discipline tends to always align with taking the “easy way out” or caving to temptations of personal gratification.

For example, as a student, would it be easier to continue to work on a research paper, or to goof off on a site like Facebook? As an employee, is it easier to sit down at night and watch the “boob tube” (literally), or to work on developing one’s mind or skills through constructive reading and intellectual engagement with others? On a personal level, is it easier to eat cake, or to say “no” and eat healthy to maintain proper weight? Is it easier to sit on the couch and vegetate, or to exercise to improve one’s health and fitness? Is it easier to be ill learned, or to develop professionalism and pursue further education? Is it easier to be ill mannered, use to profanity? A lack of self-discipline is a, if not the, primary factor for the hindrance of personal growth and professional development.

Five steps to strengthen ones self-discipline are:

1. Reinforce an understanding of the core values that you believe in and reflect who you are. Define those values and incorporate them in the process of accomplishing the task at hand.

2. Take “baby steps” when beginning the pursuit of a new endeavor. It is imperative to not look at the entire vision at hand, but approach the task day-by-day. The old adage of “do not bite off more than you can chew” is essential.

3. Establish a moral compass that is in alignment with the core values you espouse to. A clear sense of your morality will subdue the temptations of the deadly sins we are exposed to every day. Personally, I define morality as how I treat another human being, and I believe we should treat one another with dignity and respect. Take the time to assess how you would want to be treated if you were walking in another person's shoes.

4. Manage your time and effort by planning properly and executing the task efficiently. Prioritize the elements of the task at hand to best reach that goal in the most efficient manner possible.

5. Finally, visualize the light at the end of the tunnel, and anticipate the satisfaction of the successful completion of that goal.

Remember, Concerted Effort + Determination = Self-Discipline. There is nothing more satisfying and self-respect developing than the knowledge that your efforts and determination were the primary factors in the achievement of your success. Successful leaders are always self-disciplined in the pursuit of their passions, dreams, and goals. Be that leader and set a positive, self-disciplined example every day for those around you.

Author's Bio: 

Jay Rifenbary is a professional speaker, trainer, and consultant who provides expertise in the areas of personal and professional development, leadership, and communications. He is president of Rifenbary Training & Development and the author of two books, "True To Your Core - Common Sense Values for Living Life to Its Fullest" and “No Excuse! – Incorporating Core Values, Accountability and Balance into Your Life and Career." Visit http://www.rifenbary.com for more information.