Do you have dreams and goals that you want to accomplish? We all do, but it’s easy for our best-laid plans to go awry when life throws us curveballs, says Steve Burns of New Trader U.

But don’t despair—you can still create lasting change with five simple steps. With these strategies in hand, you’ll be able to build self-discipline that will last a lifetime.

  • Rule #1: Set SMART goals for yourself.
  • Rule #2: Make a plan and stick to it.
  • Rule #3: Get rid of distractions.
  • Rule #4: Be accountable to someone.
  • Rule #5: Reward yourself for sticking to your goals.

Rule #1: Set SMART Goals for Yourself

Setting goals is an important part of any successful endeavor. For that reason, the importance of the first rule to success is often overlooked–setting SMART goals. To ensure that your efforts are efficient and impactful, it’s vital to identify clear objectives that have Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART) components. When you do this for every task, you can rest assured that each step you take is working towards a well-defined end goal. Establishing these objectives for yourself can motivate tackling even the most challenging tasks and help create positive momentum toward success. How to set SMART goals:

  1. Specific

    When setting goals, it’s essential to be specific about your goals. Vague or general goals are more difficult to achieve than specific ones. For example, rather than setting a goal to “lose weight,” set a goal to “lose ten pounds in three months.”

  2. Measurable

    Your goals should also be measurable to track your progress and see whether you are on track to achieve them. For example, rather than setting a goal to “eat healthier,” set a goal to “eat five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.”

  3. Achievable

    It is crucial to set achievable goals so you do not become discouraged if you cannot achieve them. For example, rather than setting a goal to “run a marathon,” set a goal to “run a 5K race.”

  4. Relevant

    Your goals should be relevant to your overall objectives to help you move closer to your long-term goals. For example, rather than setting a goal to “save money,” set a goal to “save $500 over the next six months.”

  5. Time-bound

    Finally, your goals should be time-bound so that you have a deadline for achieving them. This will help you stay on track and motivated to achieve your goals. For example, rather than setting a goal to “get in shape,” set a goal to “work out three times per week for 30 minutes each time within the next month.”

The first step to staying disciplined is knowing the target you’re aiming at.

Rule #2: Make a Plan and Stick To It

Following a plan can be instrumental in achieving goals, no matter how big or small. A clear and realistic plan is essential to start, as it helps break down the task into manageable steps. Having those steps laid out ahead of time will also create productive habits that can build long-term momentum. Sticking to the plan can take dedication, organization, and focus on accomplishing the goal. It’s important to remember that goals are achieved through hard work and perseverance, so mapping out a plan and following it carefully is key to success.

The goal of being disciplined should focus on the execution of your plan, as you can’t control specific outcomes.

Rule #3: Get Rid of Distractions

It can be very easy to lose focus when there are distractions around. They can come in many forms, including phones, noise, unwanted conversations, and anything else that takes our attention away from the task. Removing distractions requires us to step back and evaluate what needs to be eliminated. This could be as simple as silencing your phone or moving further away from possibly disruptive conversations or sounds. Furthermore, removing all unnecessary electronics from the workspace is an excellent way to reduce the likelihood of being distracted by incoming notifications and messages. Block out those unrelated to the job to improve productivity and achieve success with any given task.

Focus is the primary key to staying disciplined. Keep your eyes on the process and the prize.

Rule #4: Be Accountable to Someone

Being accountable to another person can contribute significantly to your success and help you accomplish goals. When you are accountable to someone, it creates an obligation to follow through with a task or goal that can be more motivating than simply relying on yourself. Having someone offering encouragement, advice, and constructive feedback gives you an extra push that helps build confidence in completing the objective. In addition, having someone tracking your progress will increase your chances of achieving success; it becomes much harder to deviate from the path when someone else has their eyes on it. Utilizing accountability as a personal development tool requires honesty and humility, being willing to own up to mistakes, learning from them, and asking for help when needed.

Both internal and external factors can reinforce discipline. For some people, an audience can help them perform better.

Rule #5: Reward Yourself for Sticking to Your Goals

Rewarding yourself for reaching goals is an excellent way to stay motivated and engaged. After all, everyone loves a little something special! By taking advantage of this rule, you can recognize your hard work and provide yourself with additional motivation to keep going towards greater heights. You don’t have to spend money or buy anything big for rewards; the simple satisfaction that comes from setting, tackling, and achieving your goals may be enough, although tokens such as a book, a movie ticket, or dinner out can help further break up larger objectives into smaller ones and give you more reasons to celebrate your progress. Allowing yourself occasional breaks through rewards will also help renew enthusiasm along the path of success while keeping you focused on the goal you are striving towards.

Celebrate your success of staying disciplined after big milestones in your journey.


Achieving your goals doesn’t have to be difficult. If you follow these five basic rules, you’ll be well on your way to meeting and exceeding your expectations. Just remember to set SMART goals for yourself, plan and stick to them, get rid of distractions, be accountable to someone, and reward yourself for sticking to your goals. These tips will help keep you focused and motivated so you can achieve anything you set your mind to.

Learn more about Steve Burns at