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Consultant Rory Vaden works with successful people, and he believes the secret to their success is self-discipline. In an Internet-driven, multitasking era, this is becoming more and more difficult.

He stresses that the successful people he works with don't come to self-discipline naturally, nor do they enjoy it. But they think about it differently, recognizing "it's simply about doing the hard things you know you should do, even when you don't feel like doing them – and then doing them as early on as possible, to boot." On ChangeThis, he offers these principles to help you become more self-disciplined:

The paradox principle: Do the difficult things now, and things will be easier in the long term. Too often, for example, we tend to ignore problems, playing down their importance. But they compound, and eventually we are confronting a bigger mess. Instead of running away from your problems (or, at least, skirting them and hoping they will go away) confront them directly and immediately.

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The buy-in principle: The more you have invested in something, the less likely you are to let it fail. So invest more time, energy, money and other resources in the commitments you have taken on, and you'll be more determined to make them happen.

The magnification principle: If your focus is diluted, so too are your results. You must avoid distractions and focus your energy on the task at hand. He warns against something he sees in himself: creative avoidance, unconsciously filling the day with menial work to the point where you end up busy just being busy. "At the end of the day I had 'worked' all day long, but didn't have much to show for it. I was engaged in activities all day, but I wasn't making progress," he writes.

The creation principle: There is a four-step process to getting things done: You think it, you speak it, you act it, and it happens. But we don't place enough importance on the power of words, making sure we choose them carefully and backing them up with intent. "Words are the first manifestation of ideas or thoughts into the real world. At their origin, those ideas exist only in your mind, but once they have been spoken or written, then they exist and have the power to shape the world around us. The moment we galvanize our thoughts into words marks the onset of creation," he observes.

The harvest principle: Focused effort is amplified by appropriate timing and regimented routine. Farmers organize themselves so they can work long hours at harvest time. Similarly, you need to recognize the seasons of your life – seasons of education, of independence, of love, of growth, of new beginnings, of sickness, and of health – and allocate your time appropriately.

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