Knowledge Exchange

3 secrets to building self-discipline and excelling in life

Naoko Takeshita (Class of 2021)

What is your definition of self-discipline? Self-discipline is the ability to push yourself forward, stay motivated and take action, regardless of your feelings or emotions. We show self-discipline by intentionally choosing to pursue something better for ourselves and continuing to do it despite any factors standing in the way. Today, HKU MBA meets with Naoko Takeshita, a current student of the HKU MBA part-time programme, as she shares with us how she has developed the habit of self-discipline.


HKU MBA: You work as an institutional sales specialist in a global bank. How do you manage your day?

Naoko Takeshita: I am a true morning person. My day starts at 5-6am , sometimes earlier than that. Then I do some exercise in order to wake myself up physically and mentally and get my body ready to start the day. After my morning routine, I go to the office at around 8am, one hour earlier than the usual office work time. Morning time is very important for me-  I utilise the time well as it makes me the most efficient at work.



HKU MBA: You are working as a full-time banker and studying the part-time HKU MBA programme simultaneously. How do you manage your time?

Naoko Takeshita: I think the most important thing when it comes to time management is prioritisation. People are so busy at work and at home. There are always tons of things to do, but prioritising is an essential part of effective time management.

When you prioritise some things, there are always other things you can cut down. For me, cutting down on Netflix and relaxed evenings allowed me to make the MBA programme my first priority.

Obviously, the MBA programme is quite intense and challenging. Sometimes, the part-time study is overwhelming. Looking back, I can see that I am now a completely different person to who I was before I started the MBA programme. It was such an eye-opening experience: my studies have transformed the way I think, communicate and behave. Studying in a diverse environment has provided me with different business insights, thinking processes, and points of view.  The group activities have helped me to enhance my communication and presentation skills.


HKU MBA: Can you give your top 3 secrets for mastering self-discipline?

Naoko Takeshita: There are no hard rules for mastering self-discipline, as every person has a different lifestyle and background. However, if I had to choose my own top habits I would share (1) wake up early, (2) do exercise, and (3) be positive.

(1) Start your day early. There is always some amount of self-discipline involved in creating good habits. You need to design your habits and make an effort to stick to them. Waking up early gives you a daily routine with good energy. This will make your day so much more productive and efficient.

(2) Exercise. A regular exercise routine is a great way to improve your self-discipline. It will teach you how to focus on any task at hand and it will make you fit and healthy. I do exercise at least 2-4 times per week and I exercise almost every day if I work from home. I do yoga, running and Pilates. This helps me stay healthy and develop my self-discipline.

(3) Stay positive. Self-discipline is a basic fundamental component to accomplish or establish something in your life. However, life is not always straightforward. Be positive about things that you face in your life, enjoy it  and appreciate it. Don’t be too hard on yourself, but build good habits with a positive mind.


Industry: Banking
Job Title: Institutional Sales / Fund Distribution