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  • Writer's pictureBrian R. Schobel, CPA


Self-control, an aspect of inhibitory control, is the ability to regulate one's emotions, thoughts, and behavior in the face of temptations and impulses. As an executive function, it is a cognitive process that is necessary for regulating one's behavior to achieve specific goals.

How important is self-discipline in operating a small business?

It is probably the most important characteristic to becoming a successful business owner. Losing control can lead to losing your business, your family, even your life. Acting out of emotion can cause harm to yourself and others. People are hesitant placing themselves in the path of someone whose behavior is unpredictable, so they do not get hurt.

One of several ways to begin improving your self-discipline is to decrease your anxiety. Reducing your anxiety will make you happier and will aid you in becoming more resilient. It will allow you to better resist temptation and navigate to better choices. Investing in yourself by exercising your body, mind, and soul is a way to get started.

Set goals for yourself and place them where you can see them. You may refer to my dream boards blog post for more on this subject. Being an accountant, I do most of my work in front of a computer. By placing tasks in my calendar, I am constantly reminded daily of my goals. Some goals take longer than others. Some days and others take years. Putting them front and center helps you to realize why you are putting so much effort into something that you may not see the results from for years to come. Getting a high school diploma for example takes years of going to school five days a week.

Set smaller goals to achieve your larger goals. In the example above, going to school each day is the best way to achieve the larger goal of graduating with a diploma. Achieving smaller goals will also help you gain confidence. Confidence is huge when achieving larger goals.

Practice prioritizing. Tell yourself to complete a work task prior to going to an event with friends. Try placing the priorities you find less exciting at the top of your list. Save the fun things for later but not always. Sometimes you may want to use a fun thing to motivate you to do a less desirable chore.

Know your weaknesses. Say you are on a diet and you know sweets late at night is your Achilles heel. Perhaps place a lock on the cabinet that prevents access between 11 PM – 6 AM. Take measures to prevent failure due to weakness.

Enlist a friend to help keep you accountable. If nobody knows you are trying to improve upon yourself then it is easy to stop and not improve upon yourself. Have a friend hold your feet to the fire. If you are like me, you are going to want to impress and not disappoint your friend.

Also remember that self-discipline is an ongoing process. We can always improve upon achieving our goals. Self-discipline provides for better efficiencies, improved outcomes, and greater successes.


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