7 Ways to Be More Disciplined

Self-discipline is the master key to sales success. All other disciplines, attributes, and skill sets are built upon the foundation of self-discipline.

1. Written Commitments and Outcomes

Write down the commitments you make to yourself. There are no greater promises than the promises that you make to yourself. These promises are what enable you to be able to keep your promises to others.

But don’t just write down the commitments you make to yourself, write down the outcomes of keeping those commitments and the outcomes for breaking these commitments.

Be clear about the positive outcomes that will inspire you and drive you forward. How will your life be improved by keeping these commitments to yourself? How will other people notice?  How will this improve the lives of those that you love and care about?

Be equally clear about the outcomes if you don’t keep your commitments. Write down the negative consequences. How will your life be less than it could by your failure to keep your commitments? Who else will be hurt? How will they notice that you haven’t kept your commitments to yourself?

2. Public Commitments

Make your commitments yourself public. Tell everybody you know what you have committed to. Recently, I have read that you shouldn’t make these commitments public because the failure is embarrassing. That is exactly why you need to make public commitments!

People tend to act consistently with the public statements that they make. It is painful not do so, and the public scrutiny is a strong (and painful) motivator.

When Arnold Schwarzenegger was training for the Mr. Olympia competition, he wore a cut off t-shirt that exposed his entire stomach. It was a constant reminder act consistently with the outcome he was seeking and to make it visible to everyone if he wasn’t.

3. Go To War With the Voice of Rationalization

Inside all of us is a voice that rationalizes our behavior. It is a voice that gives us permission to procrastinate. It gives us permission to enjoy ourselves now, and postpone the heavy lifting for another day. It tells that there will always be time later, and that the result can still be achieved. It looks for proof to appeal to you logically and emotionally.

You have to go to war with this voice. This voice lies.

There is no way to plant and reap in the Fall. You have to plant in springtime. Period.

The first key to beating the voice of rationalization is to listen for it and notice when it is speaking to you. When you hear this voice, immediately get out your written commitments and outcomes from Step 1 and start write down all of the reasons that what the voice is saying is untrue. Write down the lies that this voice tries to sell you.

Recognizing that the rationalization is the ability to lie to oneself, and recognizing the pain you will late suffer for believing your own lies is a powerful motivating force. Use it!

4. Go To War With Distractions

There are always distractions that will tempt you away—or drive you away—from the commitments you have made to yourself. Like the voice of rationalization, you have to destroy these distractions.

Turn off the television. Turn off the computer. Turn off the email notification on the cell phone. Remove the distractions.

5. Do the Worst First

Always do the most unpleasant task first thing in the morning or first thing upon arriving at the office. You have the most bandwidth for completing the most unpleasant (but necessary) tasks before the world has a chance to make additional demands of you or distract you with a more pleasant and tempting offer.

The sense of accomplishment from handling the most difficult task first builds momentum. And, it is easier to hold yourself to a higher standard all day if you start with a difficult task first.

6. One Discipline At a Time

No one goes from undisciplined one to day to self-discipline the next. Everyone is disciplined about some things, and less disciplined about others. It is easiest to pick one discipline and make it a habit, and use it to springboard into the next activity.

After you have created the self-discipline in one area and it becomes routine, you free up that bandwidth to tackle another area. Choose one area where you really need to improve your self-discipline and focus all of your effort to making a change there. Make the self-discipline in this area a habit, and then choose another area on which to focus your attention.

7. Learn To Love the Routine

Discipline is about routine. It is about creating the habits that generate long-term results. These routines mean you have to necessarily create short-term discomfort. Learning to love the routine means learning to love the discomfort that is self-denial. It means learning to find pleasure in sacrifice now for forging yourself into something greater in the future.

You can learn to love the discomfort. You can give it a whole new and empowering meaning.


Self-discipline is the cornerstone of effectiveness in sales.

It allows you to be disciplined about your prospecting and follow up.

It allows you to follow the processes and the procedures that lead to sales and to be fully engaged in doing so.

It allows you to build and shape the character that creates true influence and trust.

It demonstrates your ability and your willingness to keep commitments that require long, difficult challenges and to produce lasting results.

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  • http://www.salestipaday.com Chris Hamilton

    Great post with lots of valuable information. Although, I disagree with #5. I think you need to do the most important task first. Prioritize and knock them off starting from the most pressing.

    • http://www.santhonyiannarino.com S. Anthony Iannarino

      Thanks, Chris. I agree with you that you should always do the most important task first. However, lots of salespeople decide that there are many things that come before, say, prospecting. Then, they never get around to the prospecting. This true even when prospecting is the most important task they need to apply themselves to.

      Sometimes they need to call a prospect to advance the sale, and it may be the most important call they need to make. But instead of making it, they find other things to do because they don’t want to make a difficult call.

      In my experience, getting the biggest, baddest, hairiest work out of the way builds momentum. After you tackle something really ugly, you seem to be more likely and more capable of tackling other important work. Not tackling it seems to build the tendency to procrastinate and do to less valuable work.

      I am not sure we disagree here, maybe it’s just my language choices. This is just my view, and I understand that your personal experience may be contrary to mine.


      • http://www.radsmarts.com Robin Dickinson

        Hey Anthony,

        I’m with you on this one. Thank you.


        My sharewords: helping you succeed in business

  • http://www.waterhousegroup.com Sales Training

    Anthony, You’ve gone to the heart of the issue with this one. I know myself that I always feel I can do better if I can only change a few habits. It is a lifelong struggle and one that every true professional both hates and enjoys. The battles are tough but the victories are so sweet and profitable.

  • Krishna Chaitanya

    Hello Anthony,
    Thanks for the post. It is indeed very practical and resourceful. Many a times in Life, you pretty much know what you have to do,but, just that you forget or care less to finish them. They in turn, turn out into bigger problems in the future, just because, you did not tackle them early.

    # 3 & #7 are the most valuable advice you gave to us in my opinion.


    • http://www.santhonyiannarino.com S. Anthony Iannarino

      Thanks for the comments, Krishna. I like #3 and # 7 a lot, too!

  • http://www.kaleidico.com Bill Rice

    What a great article. And something I needed to read right now. It is so easy for you to let things get a bit out of control from time to time. Discipline brings us back.

    Distractions and rationalization are my two big vices. Thanks Anthony!

    • http://www.santhonyiannarino.com S. Anthony Iannarino

      You and everybody else, Bill! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


  • http://www.facebook.com/linda.jackson.125323 Linda Jackson

    Fab article!!