min read
December 14, 2023

8 Steps To Improve Self-Discipline

Have you ever wished you "had more self-discipline"?

That working for your goals wouldn't feel so 'hard' and you wouldn't have to use quite as much willpower to knuckle through them?

Well, most of us have!

Knuckling through something also means heavily relying on motivation, which is often the reason we 'fall off' (since motivation is fleeting...).

So how can we overcome this? By improving self-discipline.

I get it, building self-discipline sounds like a white-knuckling task in itself, but the thing is once it's built it makes everything else easier!

“The first and best victory is to conquer self.” ~ PLATO

What is self-discipline?

Self-discipline is essentially your consistent ability to control your actions, feeling, and emotions.

When it comes to your finances, it's your ability to stick to your plans of paying down debt saving and investing.

When it comes to fitness, you see your workouts as a normal part of your day

and when it comes to nutrition it's the ability to say no to things you know are not serving you in the moment and yes to the things you know that are.

Benefits of self-discipline

Improving your self-discipline has many benefits including:

Decreased anxiety

When you are in control of how you act, you are less likely to feel anxious.

Increased ability to achieve long-term goals

With fewer distractions and self-imposed setbacks, having self-discipline allows you to achieve your goals.

It also means getting to them faster than if you allowed yourself to get distracted.

More happiness

When you are on the path to achieving your goals, you feel happier because you are making progress. Self-discipline is a major contributor to this.

More resilience

As your self-discipline grows, your ability to resist temptation increases. This in turn makes you more resilient as you navigate different circumstances.

But let's get into it...

How to improve your self-discipline


STEP ONE: Know your strengths and weaknesses.

We all have weaknesses.

Whether it's the desire for alcohol, unhealthy food, obsession over social media, or the latest Netflix series, they have a similar effect on us.

Weaknesses don’t just come in the form of areas where we lack self-control either.

We all have our strong suits and the stuff we kind of stink at.

Becoming aware of what it is you are good at and where you are lacking is the first step.

Self-awareness is a powerful tool for comfort zone expansion, but it requires constant focus and acknowledging your shortcomings, whatever they may be. 

STEP TWO: Remove temptations.

Like the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind.”

It may seem silly, but this phrase offers powerful advice.

By simply removing the biggest temptations from your environment, you will greatly improve your self-discipline.

If you want to eat healthier, toss the junk food in the trash.

Want to drink less? Throw out the booze.

If you want to enhance your productivity at work, improve the management of your To-Do’s, turn off social media notifications and silence your cell phone.

Prioritize and execute. 

The fewer distractions you have, the more focused you will be on accomplishing your goals.

Set yourself up for success by ditching bad influences.


STEP THREE: Set clear goals and have an execution plan.

If you hope to achieve greater degrees of self-discipline, you must have a clear vision of what you hope to accomplish, just like any goal.

You must also have an understanding of what success means to you.

After all, if you don’t know where you are going, it’s easy to lose your way or get sidetracked.

Remember to prioritize. 

A clear plan outlines each time-bound step you must take to reach your goals.

Create a mantra to keep yourself focused.

Successful people use this technique to stay on track, emotionally connect to their mission, and establish a clear finish line.

Visualization is another strategy to do that. 

Remember to view the goals as a rough target to stir you in the right direction to becoming the person you want to be and not as an end-all-be-all destination.


STEP FOUR: Practice daily diligence.

Most of us aren’t born with self-discipline;

it’s a learned behavior.

And just like any other skill you want to master, it requires daily practice and repetition.

It must become habitual. But the effort and focus that self-discipline requires can be draining.

The bigger the temptation or decision, the more challenging it can feel to tackle other tasks that also require self-control.

So, work on building your self-discipline through daily diligence in a given area associated with a goal.

This goes back to step three. In order to practice daily diligence, you must have a plan.

Put it on your calendar, your to-do list - whatever works best for you.

With practice, anyone can push the boundaries of their comfort zone every day. 


STEP FIVE: Create new habits and rituals.

Acquiring self-discipline and working to instill a new habit can feel daunting at first, especially if you focus on the entire task at hand.

To avoid feeling intimidated, keep it simple.

Break your goal into small, doable steps. Instead of trying to change everything at once, focus on doing one thing consistently and master self-discipline with that goal in mind.

If you’re trying to get in shape but don’t exercise regularly (or ever), start by working out ten or fifteen minutes a day.

If you’re trying to achieve better sleep habits, start by going to bed thirty minutes earlier each night.

If you want to eat healthier, change your grocery shopping habits and prep meals ahead of time.

Take baby steps. Eventually, when your mindset and behavior starts to shift, you can add more goals to your list.


STEP SIX: Change your perception about self-discipline.

If you believe you have weak self-discipline, you probably have.

But what about changing that perception?

The view we have of ourself influences our actions much more than we think!

When we embrace the mindset of having amazing self-discipline, we continue to grow, achieve more, and develop mental toughness.

It’s the same philosophy as setting “stretch” goals.

In short, our internal conceptions about self-control can determine how disciplined we are.

If you can remove these subconscious obstacles and truly believe you can do it, then you will give yourself an extra boost of motivation toward making those goals a reality.


STEP SEVEN: Give yourself a backup plan.

Psychologists use a technique to boost self-discipline called “implementation intention.”

That’s when you give yourself a plan to deal with a potentially difficult situation you know you will likely face.

To be clear, I am not referring to a backup plan under the auspices that you’ll probably fail at Plan A.

We are talking about contingencies for intentional course correction, not planning for failure.

So be bold and keep moving forward.

Going in with a plan will help give you the mindset and self-control necessary for the situation.

You will also save energy by not having to make a sudden decision based on your emotional state.


STEP EIGHT: Forgive yourself and move forward.

Even with all our best intentions and well laid plans, we sometimes fall short.

It happens. You will have ups and downs, great successes and dismal failures. The key is to keep going. 

If you stumble, find the root cause and move on.

Don’t let yourself get wrapped up in guilt, anger, or frustration, because these emotions will only drag you further down and impede future progress.



Find a coach or mentor whose advise you follow trust in. Pick someone you don't want to disappoint and who has walked your walk before.


Self-discipline quotes to keep you motivated

We all need a "pick me up" as we work on our self-discipline and achieving our goals. And so here are some great self-discipline quotes to help you stay motivated.

  • “The ability to discipline yourself to delay gratification in the short term in order to enjoy greater rewards in the long term is the indispensable prerequisite for success.” - Brian Tracy
  • “The pain of self-discipline will never be as great as the pain of regret.” - Anonymous
  • “Self-discipline is the magic power that makes you virtually unstoppable.” - Anonymous>
  • All successes begin with self-discipline. It starts with you.” Dwayne Johnson
  •  “Success doesn’t just happen.  You have to be intentional about it, and that takes discipline.” – John C. Maxwell
  • “We do today what they won’t, so tomorrow we can accomplish what they can’t.” - Dwayne Johnson
  • “Don’t ever stop believing in your own personal transformation. It is still happening even on the days you may not realize it or feel like it.” - Lalah Delia
  • “Self-discipline is nothing but self-consciousness.” - Pearl Zhu

People with a higher degree of self-control spend less time debating whether to indulge in behaviors and activities that don’t align with their values or goals.

They are more decisive.

They don’t let impulses or feelings dictate their choices.

They are the architects of their own beliefs and the actions they take to achieve a desired outcome.

As a result, they aren’t as easily distracted by temptation and tend to feel more satisfied with their lives.

“You have power over your mind—not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” ~ MARCUS AURELIUS

So why not make 2024 the year you build more self-discipline (and hence achieve more goals)?


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