11 habits of disciplined people for achieving success, according to psychology

What sets apart success stories from failures?

It’s certainly not luck…

In fact many highly lucky people end up squandering their wealth or getting into bad relationships in their personal and professional life that wreck their future. 

So where does success come from?

It’s the daily habits you commit to and the mindset that you bring to the ups and downs of your life.

Let’s dive in and take a look. 

1) They set clear goals for the future

It’s very difficult to know where you’re going if you don’t have a destination in mind. 

Disciplined people set a big goal or overall mission and then break it down into smaller, actionable chunks that they can tackle. 

They try to align their goal with their purpose and then chase it a bit each day.

They are able to think long-term and be patient, putting in work over months and years to get closer to what they’re hoping to achieve.

As psychology writer Priya Verma notes: “Highly self-disciplined individuals understand the importance of setting clear and specific goals. They have a vision of what they want to achieve and break down their goals into smaller, manageable steps.”

2) Successful people take responsibility

We all face challenges; no one’s exempt. 

Even a rich tycoon’s son may struggle to make friends or face health issues. 

Yet, successful people don’t make excuses. They maximize their opportunities and learn from setbacks.

They take responsibility because it’s often the quickest way to resolve issues and prevent further setbacks.

As psychotherapist F. Diane Barth, LCSW notes: “Taking responsibility for our actions, even when they are accidents, means that we can change our behavior going forward. And knowing that we can make changes gives us a sense of agency, a feeling of power over what we do and don’t do, and a sense of competence.”

3) They avoid excuses like the plague

Successful people have a mission and they don’t seek “easy outs.” 

There’s plenty of self-help advice out there, some more useful than others. But what truly drives success is a burning passion for a purpose. 

Challenges become motivation, isolation becomes an opportunity, and creativity flourishes when excuses go away. 

By focusing on their mission instead of on the excuses for inaction, they keep their momentum moving forward.

This feeds a positive self-reinforcement loop where the successful person rewards themselves for staying disciplined and withholds reward when they don’t.

“Being able to reinforce your behavior is an important part of a positive feedback loop. In fact, it’s estimated that 85% of people who can’t self-reinforce may experience a lack of self-esteem, self-approval, and self-confidence,” explains psychologist Jennifer Guttman, Psy.D.

4) Successful people manage time wisely

Nobody’s perfect; we all waste time occasionally.

Successful people just waste time less often. They try their best to fill their days with productivity and getting something done, even if it’s a day spent recharging then the next day will be a day of work!

Successful people minimize procrastination and use their time efficiently.

They prioritize action over delay and do their best to hit smaller goals in pursuit of their big goal.

Elon Musk didn’t achieve what he has by procrastinating. He did it by multi-tasking and achieving far more than the average person does in a month in one day.

Not everybody has that capacity, of course, but disciplined people try to operate at their personal best when it comes to time management!

5) Successful people avoid unnecessary drama

Successful people avoid unnecessary drama 11 habits of disciplined people for achieving success, according to psychology

Disciplined people don’t get addicted to the drama on a micro or macro level. 

They care about global events but don’t get caught up in them to the point of obsession or externalizing all their energy. 

The same goes for on the more micro level, where the drama and issues of those around them are not their focus.

They try to be empathetic and care and be supportive, of course, but they don’t engage in gossip or spend hours on the phone while a friend vents.

They don’t have the time or energy to spend on such things which they don’t even consider helpful in the first place. 

To the extent that it’s possible, they maintain focus and avoid distractions, moving forward while others are stuck in drama mode.

“Unnecessary drama happens when people turn small issues into large problems. Drama is often created by those who need attention and excitement in their life. Strategies to avoid drama include creating healthy boundaries and limiting your time with drama-seekers,” notes psychiatrist Abigail Brenner, M.D.

6) Disciplined people keep track of their spending

Money matters quite a lot, and is a platform for many other areas of success in life. 

By budgeting and avoiding overspending, the disciplined individual builds a long-term platform for their own success and growth. 

They know that overspending recklessly or not watching where they use their money will undercut their chance at succeeding at any of their other goals.

As Truist advises: “Writing down what you spend for a week has been found to improve financial confidence. So to become more financially resilient, you should track your expenses.”

7) Successful people invest for the long-term instead of just quick payoffs

Successful people invest in long-term projects and plans instead of just short-term payoffs. 

They have trained themselves to delay gratification and to have the discipline to work towards the results they want instead of expecting them at the push of a button.

A classic example is weight loss and dieting, which requires months (and sometimes years!) to really pay off. Disciplined people succeed because they believe in that long-term vision instead of expecting immediate results.

They are able to control and bypass their cravings in pursuit of the longer-term goal. 

As world-famous motivational coach and multi-millionaire success story Tony Robbins advises: “The truth is, it’s not realistic to get everything you want, much less get it immediately. Instant gratification is actually a source of frustration – it creates false expectations. By learning to employ delayed gratification, you buy time to strategize thoughtfully and learn from your failures.”

8) Successful people care for body and mind

Disciplined individuals who find success make a habit out of prioritizing health and well-being. 

They eat well, exercise, and respect their emotional and physical boundaries. 

This can include things that may be enjoyable in the short-term but harmful to their long-term well-being, for example casual sex, drug use or heavy drinking. 

Sure, it could be fun for a while, but long-term it’s only going to waste their tme and be hard on their body and mind. 

9) They are able to turn down social opportunities to get work done

Disciplined individuals are able to put their goals first including when it comes to saying no. 

They also ensure they’re well-rested to focus on their goals, which sometimes means they have to say no even when they have free time. 

This is a disciplined step that many people find very hard, and it can be. But those with extraordinary discipline are able to set aside social and fun time and rest time as well. 

And they’re able to stick to keeping the two of these categories separate and saying no to social invites that are going to take them away from what they want to get done.

10) They do their best to learn from failure and get stronger from it

Successful people get better, not bitter. 

They do their best to have a positive outlook and face problems head on instead of stewing about them or feeling like a victim. 

They know that every success story has a lot of blood, sweat and tears behind the scenes that most of us will never see.

So they do their best to take their own rock bottom and learn from it instead of using it as an excuse.

“Highly self-disciplined individuals cultivate a positive outlook and mindset that enables them to stay motivated and persevere in the face of challenges,” explains Verma. “They embrace failures and setbacks as learning opportunities, rather than letting them demotivate or derail their progress.”

11) Successful people validate themselves

Disciplined people don’t let others dictate their happiness. They value themselves and their goals above external validations.

As psychologist Karyn Hall, Ph.D. notes: “Self-validation is accepting your own internal experience, your thoughts, and your feelings.”

The key relationship often overlooked is the one with oneself. Disciplined people take this lesson to heart, because they know that they have to be their own biggest supporter. 

They understand deeply the truth behind the fact that nobody else is going to do it for them, and no amount of support (or opposition) can replace self-directed and self-generated action.

Picture of Paul Brian

Paul Brian

Paul R. Brian is a freelance journalist and writer who has reported from around the world, focusing on religion, culture and geopolitics. Follow him on www.twitter.com/paulrbrian and visit his website at www.paulrbrian.com

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