The relationship between self-regulatory capacities and self-esteem as well as well-being is examined by a mediation model that views self-regulation as promoting the development of identity achievement which, in turn, is expected to be associated with well-being. Among secondary school students (Study 1) identity achievement mediated the association between the self-regulatory capacity of attention control and self-esteem. In Study 2 (university students), the mediational effect of identity achievement was found for the relationship between the self-regulatory capacity of action control and well-being. Explicit motives moderated this association. In sum, a firm identity enhances well-being by lending a sense of continuity to one's life. However, explicit motives have a substitution effect by giving direction to life when lacking firm identity commitments. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.