Learning how to master self discipline is difficult. I mean, even knowing how to build discipline as an apprentice is hard!
The good news is even if it can sometimes seem as though you have no control over certain aspects of your life, you do. You just don't know it yet. All you need to do is learn some self discipline tips.
Self discipline is one of those things that requires ongoing practice and nurturing, as with anything that takes time to develop. With practice, you too can find out how to improve self discipline. But first, let's get into what self discipline is.
What is self-discipline?
Self discipline is essentially your consistent ability to control your actions, feelings, and emotions. When it comes to your finances, it's your ability to stick to your plans of paying down debt, saving, and investing.
Once you learn how to master self discipline behaviors, you'll stay motivated and are more likely to achieve success. So it's very strongly connected to willpower, which is the control of one's impulses and actions.
Willpower is how you stay focused on a task, while self discipline is more about when you take consistent action in advance to strengthen willpower. Both self discipline and willpower go hand in hand.
Benefits of self-discipline
There are a lot of positive reasons to become a disciplined person. Improving self discipline has many benefits I've listed below.
When you are in control of how you act, you are less likely to feel anxious. You'll be able to accomplish tasks on time and get more done. So it's a big motivator for learning how to build discipline.
Increases your ability to achieve your long-term goals
With fewer distractions and self-imposed setbacks, learning how to improve self discipline allows you to achieve your goals. It also means getting to them faster than if you allowed yourself to get distracted.
Makes you feel happier
When you are on the path to achieving your goals, you feel happier because you are making progress. Improving self discipline is a major contributor to this.
You become more resilient
As you learn how to build discipline, your ability to resist temptation increases. In turn, this makes you more resilient as you navigate different circumstances. You won't be as tempted to quit what you're working towards or slow down your progress.
7 Simple ways to improve your self-discipline
Learning how to build discipline can allow you to cease bad habits, accomplish long-term and short-term goals, and change your life completely.
Think of it as investing in yourself. Here, we’ve outlined seven self discipline tips to move you toward the better life you deserve. As long as you're willing to work for it.
1. Countdown, then take action
When you’re feeling particularly unmotivated, count down from ten, then force yourself to do whatever it is you're doing. A quick countdown can help shift you into the right mental space to get motivated.
Sometimes all we need is a little push to take that next step—that's how improving self discipline begins.
2. Put your goals where you can see them every day
Writing a goal down makes it all the more real, and it's a big part of how to build discipline. Hang it up somewhere you will see it often and inspire yourself — at your work desk, in your bedroom, in your car, etc.
Write the goal in your yearly planner. Put it on your kitchen calendar. It should be everywhere you look.
You can also set actual calendar reminders on your phone to go off once a week or so. But be nice to yourself. Don’t scare or shame yourself into your goals; rather, be happy, positive, and encouraging.
Increase motivation by writing down self discipline quotes from people you admire, too. If you're not sure you have the right goals, spend some time going over your goals to make sure they align with the things you truly want for yourself.
3. Remind yourself why you started
Of all the self discipline tips here, this one can really help you keep going when life is challenging. Keep your end goal in mind without allowing yourself to forget where you started.
Constantly remind yourself — especially when it gets hard — how and why you set this goal and what you will have achieved when you’re done.
Visualize yourself having taken complete control of your life and accomplishing whatever specific goal you’ve set. Set reminders on your phone to tell yourself how far you’ve come and how proud you are. Affirmations are also a great way to keep yourself focused on your why.
4. Set small goals first
Try not to overwhelm yourself with how to build discipline by setting the bar too high. Build your confidence by setting and achieving a small goal before you go for a big one.
For example, if your ultimate goal is to run five miles without stopping, set an initial goal of running a quarter mile without stopping.
Be patient with yourself and try not to get frustrated with the process. Accomplishing those small goals first can give you the motivation you need to keep going. You'll learn how to improve self discipline over time, by starting small.
5. Practice prioritizing
Decide which tasks are worth dedicating the most effort to, then organize your day to totally crush them. If you set a study plan, you're less likely to procrastinate on the less-than-savory tasks.
Put things you don't necessarily love at the top of your priorities, and you'll be relieved they're done instead of putting them off for another day.
6. Know your weaknesses
If you want to know how to master self discipline, proactively combat your weaknesses. Determine how you might slip up and how you can prevent that from happening.
For example, if you know you need to run a 5K this Saturday but your friend is having a barbeque on Friday night, it might be best to skip it.
Or if you know you need to get to work an hour earlier but you're a bit of a night owl, invest in some Melatonin. You have the tools to fight back against your own demons. You just need to hunt them down.
7. Get friends to hold you accountable
You are less likely to cheat on your goals if someone you admire is watching. Have your hero (or just your BFF) set a goal alongside you. You can cheer each other on.
And when the going gets tough, you can be there to give each other that extra push as you learn how to build discipline.
Self discipline examples
By now you're probably feeling motivated and you know how to build discipline, but what are some self discipline examples from everyday life?
Go to the gym on weekdays before work
A disciplined person may use their willpower to go to the gym every day before work at the same time, even if it means getting up earlier.
Have your gym clothes ready, know what you're eating for breakfast, and so on, so you can get out the door on time. Also give yourself time to work up to five days a week, maybe starting with two.
Form new habits like meal prepping or update your budget every Friday
Create new habits to help you succeed. Pinpoint a couple of things in your life that you'd like to change, and replace them with a good habit instead.
For example, if you want to eat healthier, try meal prepping. When finances feel overwhelming, begin budgeting once a week. Even a small healthy habit like getting outside for 20 minutes a day is a great place to start.
Constantly choose a positive mindset for your mental health
A big part of how to improve self discipline requires you to be strong mentally. Choose optimistic thoughts all the time to help you succeed instead of holding you back. It's a massive part of becoming your best self.
Motivate yourself to work even when you aren't in the mood for it
The last of the self discipline examples is to motivate yourself. Being a disciplined person will require effort, especially when you're tired or bored.
Motivate yourself to work by thinking about how you'll feel when you accomplish everything you want to do. Make a habit of getting work done before relaxing at the end of the day.
13 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. So here are some great self discipline quotes to help you stay motivated.
- "Just because you're struggling with self-discipline doesn't mean you have to raise the white flag and declare your self-improvement efforts a complete failure. Instead, work to increase the chances that you'll stick to your healthier habits - even when you don't feel like it." - Amy Morin
- “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
- “Beautiful gems can emerge from dirt. Struggle can teach you self-discipline and resilience.” - Dipa Sanatani
- “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
- “Without any self-sacrifice, how can there be a success?” - Lailah Gifty Akita
- "All successes begin with self-discipline. It starts with you.” - Dwayne Johnson
- “Self-discipline is the only power which can keep you energized even in the toughest of the circumstances.” - Sukant Ratnakar
- “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
- “Success begins with self-discipline.” - Sunday Adelaja
The best self-discipline books to read
If you need to know how to build discipline, and find some more great self discipline quotes, start reading books. These suggestions can help you begin.
P.S. these books are linked via affiliate links which means we may get a small commission that helps us grow if you make a purchase!
No Excuses: The Power Of Self Discipline by Brian Tracy
Hands down, the best book on self discipline is No Excuses!: The Power Of Self Discipline by Brian Tracy. It shows you how you can achieve success in your life, including your personal and financial goals.
You'll learn how to be more disciplined and each chapter has exercises to help you apply the "no excuses" approach to your own life. I recommend this book every chance I get, and I often find myself reviewing it.
Atomic Habits An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
Our habits are a major part of how to master self discipline. Author James Clear writes in Atomic Habits about how to change patterns and build small habits on top of other habits to achieve goals.
Great for anyone who wants a tried and true formula for improving their life, or needs self discipline tips.
Furthermore, rather than relying only on motivation, Clear discusses ways to make positive change a natural and easy choice. You won't want to miss this how-to guide.
The Little Book of Big Change: The No Willpower Approach to Breaking Any Habit by Amy Johnson
If you have a particular habit that you'd like to conquer for good, this book can help. Written by Amy Johnson, PhD, The Little Book of Big Change offers information about the brain and why habits work in specific ways.
All of this can aid you in becoming the most productive and self disciplined person possible.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
By no means a new book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey remains relevant. All of the habits are designed to challenge the way we live life and make us more self disciplined people.
It's not just outward behavior; this read also focuses on the why, and our core values as people. It also gives plenty of self discipline examples.
Knowing how to build discipline takes work but can be done
When it comes to how to build discipline, it's all about making the commitment to improve and picking yourself back up when you slip. With that being said, determine one area of your life that you want to improve on.
Next lay out an action plan to help you with improving self discipline. With time, effort, and consistency, you'll be making great strides with your self discipline.
Be sure to check out our list of actionable self-improvement ideas for different aspects of your life!