How To improve Work Ethic: 10 Ways to Convert from Lazy into Self-Disciplined

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how to improve work ethic

If you’ve ever wondered about how to improve work ethic, you’re in the right place. Here, we’ll be discussing practical tips you can start working on today to improve your work ethic.

There’s no arguing that one of the most important qualities to becoming a success in any area is to have a strong work ethic, but what if you struggle with that?  What if you find yourself wanting to be entertained rather than doing the necessary things to achieve success?

Take this scenario as an example…

You decide you want to start a business.

You imagine yourself leading a multi-million dollar company, being your own boss, helping so many people, and you even have great product and service ideas.  When it comes time to sit down and build the business, you find yourself venturing off, somehow ending in the kitchen, in front of the television, or on the phone burning time.

how to improve work ethicThen, when you see ads that promote successful businesses with little to no work, you’re spending money on these opportunities in hopes there’s a shortcut somewhere, but they’re not turning out as you expected.  You’ve tried:

  • Day trading for a couple months
  • You wrote a couple posts on a blog
  • Tested the slot machines
  • You’ve pasted affiliate links onto your social media profile
  • You tried multi-level marketing
  • and, you’ve been disappointed by each one.

People claim you can make money with little to no work, but the more you try, the more you’re proving either:

1. You’re doing something wrong with every venture you try


2. Their falsely advertising by saying you can get rich with little to no work

How can you switch this around?  You feel like your passionate enough and you really want your business to come to life, but you’re struggling. You like the potential dollar signs, but you’re struggling to do the tasks necessary to make them?

What do you do?  How can you get rid of the inner lazy guy and become a self-disciplined go-getter?  Let’s talk about how to improve work ethic…

1. Define Work Ethic for Yourself

There’s so many mainstream definitions that “gurus” have created.  There’s the “work smarter, not harder” clan, the four-hour work week clan, those who say you can become rich working less than 10 hours per week, and those who are okay with the good ole fashion hard work.

In his video on work ethic, Patrick Bet David, from Valuetainment, said work is defined as:

“Activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result”.

how to improve work ethicTo put it very simple, ethic is your idea of right and wrong.  Work is closely connected to a sense of fulfillment and the execution of life purpose, so often times, when people are “shortcut-focused” or lazy, they tend to develop confidence issues, esteem issues, and become personally and emotionally vulnerable because they live beneath their potential, however, that’s for you to decide.

You have to decide:

  • Can I serve the maximum amount of people I was placed on this Earth to serve in 10 hours or less per week or do I need to have a service-first mentality?
  • Should I be focused more on what I want to do or who I need to be for others?
  • Am I building a business for personal satisfaction or to add value to the market?

The answers to these questions will define work ethic for you.  If you are a community-focused proponent, then the remainder of the steps will work for you because you won’t be thinking about “clocking in and out” or the time it takes, or what shortcuts you can find.  Instead, you’ll be focused on impacting people regardless of the time it takes.

2. Adhere to Your Definition

Once you’ve decided your position on work ethic, you’ll want to commit.  You can unsubscribe from all those newsletters and video channels who have different views on work ethic than you do because they’re on a different path.  Save yourself some money, and skip over sales pages that are targeting people who want results with little work.

Depending on your business, this commitment may be different.

For example, in my business, I use my writing to communicate to others.  As a result, I’ve committed to writing more than 15,000 words per week and more than 7 articles.  I’m currently scaling my work hours by arranging more childcare options, but until I have childcare in place, the writing goals I’ve currently set will range between 10,000-15,000 words/week and 5-7 articles per week.

how to improve work ethicYou’ll have to decide the most important activities in your business.  Things like lead generation, lead conversion, and client fulfillment, must be done whether you like it or not, so you’ll have to commit to them.  Maybe you commit to a 90-day cold email challenge where you email people in your target audience daily, or maybe you commit to growing your sales pipeline by 10 new leads every day.

The goal will help you build the “work ethic” muscle.


3. Set and Grow Goals

Having goals is one thing, and achieving them is a whole different animal.  To build your work ethic, you have to build from small accomplished goals into bigger ones.

Think about exercise for a second…

If you’re out of shape, you start with small weights and few repetitions.  You don’t start lifting the most you can or you can injure yourself.

Similarly, with developing a work ethic, if you put goals too aggressive, you can damage your esteem or motivation and have burnout.

Start small, achieve one goal consistently, then increase the goal.  If you’re consistently closing one sale per day, increase the goal to two, and so on.

Challenge yourself and continue climbing.

how to improve work ethic4. Create a Schedule and a Budget

Sometimes, temptation comes.  A friend may stop by during your work hours, a new movie may come out, or you might smell a tempting aroma from the restaurant down the street.  Things come up all the time!

On the highway, there are guardrails.  They make sure that cars don’t go out of control and fall off of the road.

Similarly, we have to place guardrails in our lives: limits, rules, challenges, goals, and restrictions to ensure we stay on track and use non-renewable resources (like time and money) the most effective. In keeping with your definition of work ethic and goals, you should create a schedule and a budget.

My articles “How To Use a Time Management Chart to Beat Procrastination and Increase Productivity” and “How To Budget and Save Money When You’re Broke or Living Paycheck to Paycheck” can help with these tasks.

You have to write down what things you spend your time on and how much time you spend on each task.  Then, you have to align your time with your values.  Where there are conflicts between what you’re spending your time on, and what you should be doing to progress in life, then you’ll have to make some adjustments.

Like the schedule, you want to track your spending and set milestones for yourself to ensure your money is focused towards achieving your goals. Everydollar app is a great tool to use to track your spending.

5. Commit to things that Must be Done even if They Don’t Feel Good

Not everything that NEEDS to be done feels good.  In managing a household, most people don’t like to do chores, but they need to be done.  Most parents don’t like to change diapers, but they want to have children.

how to improve work ethicThere are components of nearly everything that are good and bad.  In business, people may like the money, but they may not like the long hours at times.  They may like the added lifestyle freedom, but they don’t like the times where there’s so much work, it doesn’t seem they have any freedom at all.

You have to discipline your mind to continue action even when it doesn’t feel good.  Long distance running or fitness works perfectly to prove this.  As you’re improving your strength and endurance, it doesn’t always feel good, but when you’re able to be more active or your body doesn’t age like others, then you’ll be happy you put in the added work.

Realistically, business has good parts and bad parts.  There are times when you want to give up, but your commitment keeps you going.  You’ll have to commit to business thru the good and the bad.

6. Create Incentives for Yourself

Since there are challenges and obstacles, and since you’ll need to endure things you may not like, it helps maintain your motivation if you create incentives for yourself.  Each person’s incentives will be different, but you can set milestones like:

  • Once I earn my first $100 in my business, I’ll get my favorite ice cream
  • When I have 5 paying customers at $1000 monthly, I’ll get a massage.

Your incentives have to be exciting and serve as a reward for a milestone achieved.

7. Practice Focus

how to improve work ethicIt’s easy to veer off into things you enjoy rather than doing the work when your ability to focus is shortsighted.  The good news is…

Focus can be developed.   You don’t have to stay in the victim position in relation to focus.  If you struggle with directing your attention on one thing, you can dedicate time to practice, and develop the skill.

Additionally, as you work on your schedule, you should be making sure to give yourself sufficient time for each task so multitasking is less necessary.

4 Exercises to Improve Focus

1. Quiet Time

Often times, people who have a difficult time focusing never slow down to reflect or prepare.  As a result, they find themselves going from one thing to another thing until their tired.

When you have quiet time, you can identify things that are going well and things that aren’t.  You can develop necessary skills because you’ll have time to identify shortcomings and what you may need.

Quiet time is important to develop focus.

how to improve work ethic2. The Rice Activity

With the growing prevalence of people on ADD or ADHD medications, there’s also a growing number of people who feel incapable of growing their ability to focus.  A school teacher I know disagreed with the focus-based medicine trend.  She would have students who had trouble focusing in the classroom do “The Rice Activity”.

She’d bring a bag of rice to school, pour some of the grains out, and for a timed period, she would have them focus on picking each grain up with tweasers and counting them.  When the students started, they had trouble focusing on the activity, but she saw that after continually doing the exercise, the students were able to focus more.

3. Meditation

Some people meditate to improve their ability to focus.  Meditation is slow, quiet, and reflective, so it requires you to focus on one command at a time.

In addition to meditation being good to improve focus, it can also be good to release negative emotion or thoughts that can be underlying hinderances for work ethic and focus.

4. Fitness

When you’re pushing yourself towards a fitness goal–whether 10 pushups, 20 situps, or 1 pull up–it requires focus.  It’s easy to say, “I’ve done 5, forget the rest”, but as a challenge for your work ethic and your focus, you commit and follow thru.

Many entrepreneurs use fitness to grow confidence, to improve health, and to improve focus, and you should consider it also.

how to improve work ethic8. Attach to a Community

As social beings, we naturally want to be admired and affirmed, so when we are a part of a community, we thrive better.  People can encourage us in ways the are really meaningful, we can find a sense of purpose when we identify ways our talents can service people around us, and we have a sense of accountability.

You can find ideal communities in places like:

  • Recreation centers or Community Centers
  • Churches
  • Fitness Centers
  • Professional Networking Groups
  • In Hobby Groups
  • or, even online in some cases

9. Stay Accountable

In a good community where people are highly engaged, you’ll have a sense of accountability that will be paramount for your growth.  People will ask questions like:

  • I heard you’re starting a business doing …, how’s it going?
  • How was your week?
  • What did you do yesterday?
  • or, other inquisitive questions that give a peak into your life

how to improve work ethicThere will also be people who show concern when things seem that they’re not going well.  You want to be accountable to a group of people who are genuinely concerned about your progress.

When they give you feedback to improve your situation, you want to deeply consider it, and at times, even submit to what they’re saying.  Good accountability arrangements can be coordinated for personal or professional reasons with:

  • A good mentor
  • A group of like-minded people (like a mastermind group)
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Or, an Accountability partner

10. Track Your Milestones and Progress

I’ve noticed from long distance running that you lose motivation if you don’t realize how far you’ve come or where you’re going.  When you start running and there’s no milestones that say the distance you’ve run, or when you don’t have a watch or other metric, it becomes very difficult to stay motivated because you feel like it’s going to be endless.

In life, if you’re chasing success with no milestones, it can be just like long distance running with no end in sight.  You may have a lamborghini or other status symbol as the “ultimate goal”, but with no milestones in between, aspiring to something like that can become tiresome.

Instead, you want to use your quiet and reflective time to analyze your progress.  You want to integrate your incentives with your goals and milestones to ensure you stay motivated as you’re going closer and closer to your “ultimate professional destination”.

A Playlist on How To Improve Work Ethic

I’ve compiled this playlist with other Creators’ advice on how to improve work ethic.  Hopefully, you can combine the tips in this post with a few helpful nuggets in the playlist, and be on your way to outworking yourself and your competition!

Final Words on How To Improve Work Ethic

The goal of this article was to show how to improve work ethic. This subject is one of the most important to entrepreneurs.  It’s important to be able to outthink and outperform competitors, and without work ethic, you can’t do that.

If you have questions or concerns about this, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section.  I’d love to help you out!

If you want to start or scale a business, check out my free e-course. It’s a framework to grow a business: from idea to full-time income, and from full-time income to enterprise. Check out my free e-course here.

Now, it’s Your Turn…

Have you improved your work ethic before?  What did you do?  Have you been challenges with work ethic before?  What do you do in those times?

Disclosure: This page may contain affiliate links, meaning we receive a commission if you decide to make a purchase through our links, but this is at no additional cost to you. Please read our disclosure for more info.

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24 thoughts on “How To improve Work Ethic: 10 Ways to Convert from Lazy into Self-Disciplined”

  1. Hi there,

    To be fair I think everyone has a strong work ethic. The most important part of it is the fact that you actually do what you love to do.

    If you are doing something you love, then you don’t need ethic as you do it with love. However, if you hate your job or even if you are neutral about it, then I don’t think you can maintain the level of discipline long-term, regardless of what you do.

    1. Tiffany Domena

      Hello Eugen!  I think everyone is capable of having a strong work ethic, but I don’t think they have one without developing it.  I have two kids who are very capable of working hard, but I know if I don’t say “it’s time to wake up” or “it’s time to clean the house”, the mandatory things won’t get done, but they’re still young.  As a parent, my hope is to continue to instill principles of work ethic, so they develop a work ethic, but I have seen parents who don’t give this direction.

      When parents or mentors don’t enforce principles of work ethic, you raise a person who has challenges when they need to exercise discipline.  Even if you do something you love, there’s components you may not love.

        For example, I mentioned parenting.  I enjoy parenting and I know many people who do, but I’ve never met someone who loves changing diapers–that part simply takes discipline because you know leaving a dirty diaper on the child has consequences.  

      Similarly with business, even if you love what you’re doing, there are parts you simply have to be disciplined enough to perform.

  2. For me I think it’s all about focus and being organized. Once I have these two and place it seems I’m unstoppable. Also it’s very helpful to have a passion about what you’re doing otherwise you’ll get bored stuck or frustrated and probably give up. So I will say focus being organized and passionate are top my top three work ethics.

  3. Hi and thanks for what I can only describe as one of the most complete guides on how to get the right mindset for success I have read for a very long time. You cover all the key points and explain each very well. You blend honesty with experience to deliver a great read for your visitors. Thanks Kenny.

  4. Work ethic is so important if you want to succeed working for yourself. You have no boss staring over your shoulder and checking the time you start and leave! I did struggle with putting in the time when I did bookkeeping but now that I am blogging I find it so easy to be disciplined when it comes to my work because I am so passionate about it. 

    I do find having a schedule very helpful since I have two small kids to look after and a household to run. It makes finding the balance easier when I have my days planned out!

    1. Hi Lynne! Having small kids and a business is commendable because it ca be a delicate balance. I’m glad you pointed out how the niche can influence your motivation and work ethic because it’s so true. Best wishes for your success!

  5. jessie palaypay

    In my opinion, I think you also need to hang around the right people. I’ve noticed for myself that the more I surround myself with people who are successful, the less lazy I become especially when I am taking on their daily habits. It happened for me over a small period of time as I changed from not wanting to work to slowly wanting to do work in relation to business and investing.

  6. Thanks for posting an article that speaks to me directly.  I am constantly finding myself veering off course so to speak.  I’ll be writing an article or replying to a comment on a post and then next thing you know I’m out mowing the lawn or standing at the fridge.

    Goals and schedules….It’s hard for me to define them at times but I’ll definitely work on that.  As for community, for me, the one that introduced me to Affiliate Marketing is the best thing.  I get so much help, encouragement and offer the same back.  Community really can make a difference in the effort you put forth.  This is definitely one that others should reach out for.

    I really appreciate the ten ways to change my poor work ethic habits you’ve listed here.  I can’t promise I’ll try them all but you can be assured I will try several of them and work toward that focus I need to stay on track.

    Thank you again!

    1. Scott, starting one habit and focusing on it is the way to go. I’m glad to hear you’re committing to one. Best wishes for you in your business!

  7. What an incredible article Tiffany, I have been to your website a couple of times now and your articles inspire me to try harder.  Unfortunately there are always events in our lives that tends to slow us down. Recently I hurt my lower back, and the injury is pretty sever. I felt sorry for myself for a while. It meant that I couldn’t so my day job and I struggled to be comfortable to even be sitting at the computer. I was feeling a bit depressed because it meant that my income stream from both my business’s would come to a grinding stop. Then my wife noticed that I was sitting wrong at the computer so she made some adjustments and coached me how to sit comfortably. Now, once again I can at least continue with one business. I do half an hours work and then I get up go for a walk, do some gentle exercises and go back to work. It just took some discipline and help to lead me in the right direction. Yes, it is always about work ethics. If you decide in your mind you are beaten, you will be. I will definitely be implementing those 10 strategies of yours, and I thank you for the wonderful information that you provide us with. You certainly have lead me into a better direction.  Jim

    1. Jim! Thanks so much for sharing your experience! There’s so many valuable nuggets in your story like the value of partnership, how a solution-focused attitude can move situations, and “how life can hand you lemons, but you can make lemonade”. Glad to hear you’ll be implementing the strategies. Stop back by and let me know how it goes!

  8. Hi Tiffany,

    I totally agree with you.  As a mum and a blogger I get that you have to be disciplined to get things done.  I find this really challenging as like you mentioned life happens.  

    Would you agree that schedules and routines are essential?  

    I am a cake decorator and find that I kind of get things done my way – it’s not ideal, but as soon as I try to get rigid and strict, the creative side dies.  

    I want to be able to write a blog post on time and eat breakfast at the right time, but it’s sooo hard and it is even more challenging to instill this needed quality of self discipline into my son.  I liked your example of the guardrails, perhaps a few definite things in place will keep things together.  

    Do you have any tips or suggestions that could help me with my creative side hating all the routine and scheduled stuff?



    1. Hi Tracy!

      I think routines are crucial to get to certain levels of success (especially if you want to lead others). You may be able to “wing it” to be a solopreneur and achieve certain levels of success, but if you have leadership responsibilities, personal responsibilities, community responsibilities, and others, you can easily find yourself continually tipping the scale one way or another UNLESS you’re disciplined. My advice to you is to practice, and tweak. 

      I’m an artist by background. I’ve been in schools I auditioned for from the 5th grade and I work well in many visual art media, so I’m a very creative person. 

      Discipline doesn’t take away from creativity, it frees you to focus on one thing at a time, master one area, and improve productivity, which helps creativity. Hopefully, you can adopt a paradigm shift towards creativity and discipline, and hopefully my explanation helps with that.

  9. This is a great post giving good advice on Improving your work ethic. I have bookmarked it so that I can go back and make sure I am following the guide lines set out. Having this in your arsenal is bound to help you decide which type of work ethic you want to employ and to improve on your chosen work ethic. 

    All of us have different family responsibilities and the advice to keep a schedule of time available is crucial and valuable. As is the reasoning  to keep fit and so able to pace yourself, finding a balance,  within the limits of your fitness and calls on your time.  Following the advice given in this article will be very helpful.


  10. Hi Tiffany. You are so right. To improve chances of success in business, you have to improve your work ethic.

    Some people really struggle against this, maybe because they do not like being told what to do. Here though, it ourselves and not a boss. saying “You must do this.”

    You are so right about the hyped up sales pages promising a push button, laid back, super-fast route to success and wealth. Overnight success takes a lot of planning and hard work.

    There is no point in working hard if you have no direction, goals are necessary.

    This is where I fell down once: I set myself 5 major goals and 5 years to achieve them. I made it in just over 3 years then everything fell apart.

    I did not have the next set of goals lined up. In fact I was so surprised at achieving the first three, it sort of sneaked in from behind me. Keep your goals up to date.

    Budgets and schedules are like gold-dust in your work ethic. Budget to always spend less than you earn and budget to save against rainy days. It is a good feeling to know you can pay all your bills and eat regularly.

    Good feelings lead to good motivation and less worry.

    If you feel like giving up, pick a small piece of the worst thing you have to do and do that just before you give up. It is a really good feeling to have just done something you really did not want to do.

    Improving your work ethic is possibly the best advice anyone could follow at the moment, don’t you think?

    1. Hi HappyB! I think work ethic is a key ingredient in business. In my opinion, work ethic outweighs talent and even skill, so a main “skill” that should get focus.  Maybe today, you can’t outwork your competitors, but if you continue challenging yourself, you can. Many successful people like Elon MuskGrant Cardone and Daymond John talks alot about outworking your competition. It works.

  11. Good evening Tiffany,

    Reading your post I agree with you. I also say that without effort something will not happen. It is the same as with a garden. Only putting a seed into the ground will not make you reap a harvest.

    I really admire you for having set this goal of writing 5 to 7 articles a week. That will need a great deal of planning and organizing a good exemple to follow.

    Oh, temptations, it is good you speak a warning! Indeed I know about them and sometimes can not resist.

    As for giving myself a reward, that I will have to decide upon still as nothing spectacular has been achieved yet.

    Meditation is ideal, empty your mind and float away, so peaceful and good for recharging the batteries.

    Thank you Tiffany for a helpful article.

    Regards, Taetske

    1. Hi Taetske! I love your analogy about the garden because it’s so true! As for my goals, I will probably have to increase them more because I have high ambitions and goals and actions have to align with big dreams in order for them to happen. I’ve been able to successfully manage these goals for the last 8 months and I see space where I can increase my work ethic further, so I will. We should push ourselves to our maximum potential, right?

      With rewards, you have to look at different metrics in the beginning than after the business systems are in place. You have to reward yourself for your contribution to getting the systems in place otherwise, you can lose motivation.  You also have to get in the habit of leading yourself well, so you can lead others. Who likes to work for a leader who doesn’t appreciate? So, why would you lead yourself that way?

      Glad the article was helpful for you!

  12. Hi Tiffany,

    I am absolutely full of positive thoughts after reading this article, the desire to work harder increased, period. I am so happy I stumbled o your website made me realize how I am spending my time. I am already determined on what I should be doing every single day but there is one part in this article that I really need to take into consideration “Create a schedule and budget” I used to go through a lot of temptation during the time I work on MY business, I have tried to avoid so many times but I end up leaving what I am doing and continue later. But for now, I know what i can do to get rid of those temptations. Big thanks! 


    1. Hi Kayd! I’m so glad the article encouraged you. Prioritization is major in starting your business, and it could even be the silent killer if you’re not careful. Glad to help you!

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