Self discipline is your ability to control your own actions, feelings, and emotions. Everyone suffers from a lack of self discipline every now and then, but there are steps you can take to help improve yours. A good place to start is looking over different self discipline examples to get ideas for implementing self discipline into your life.
We gathered our favorite examples of self discipline into this handy guide so you can start building self discipline — from your finances to your career and beyond!
How to use self discipline examples to inspire yourself
Before we can dive into each example of self discipline, we need to understand how they can help inspire us. As you go through these examples, keep these questions in mind:
- How does an example make you feel? Excited? You might want to try emulating it in your own life. If you feel stressed, you may want to look at the other examples instead.
- Where do you most want to improve your self discipline?
- How can you use any given example in your life?
- Can you put these examples to work right away or will you need some time to prepare?
There isn't a correct or incorrect way to use these examples. The best way to use this list is to be open-minded and make a note when one of the examples inspires you to act.
Financial self discipline examples
Your finances are one of the most important places for self discipline. Keeping yourself in check when it comes to spending can help you save more money.
Good self discipline in your finances usually means knowing where your money is going and setting goals to grow your net worth over time.
Setting (and sticking to!) a budget
Creating a budget is a basic example of self discipline in your finances. A budget helps you see how much money you have coming in every month (your income), and how much is going to expenses.
Making a budget
To make a simple budget, follow these steps:
- Add up your monthly income.
- Add up your monthly expenses and list out which expenses are needs vs. wants.
- Subtract your expenses from your income.
- If you have money left over, you can put it toward additional savings or money goals, like paying off debt.
- If you’re spending more than you make, you’ll need to rework your spending habits to fit your income.
Budgets are especially important for self discipline because they encourage you to identify your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to money.
Maybe you have a shopping habit you want to break, but you’re really good about paying down debt.
Cutting spending or reducing expenses
The easiest way to have more money in your life is to cut down on spending. Reducing expenses or cutting out unnecessary spending is important to build your savings and pay off any debt you might have.
However, reducing expenses is usually a lot easier said than done. It takes a lot of self discipline to cut out the things you might want to spend money on. The good news is you’ll feel rewarded and fulfilled as your savings increases from your lowered expenses.
A good example when reducing spending is to try a no-spend challenge. These challenges encourage you to cut spending by not making unnecessary purchases for a period of time.
Paying off debt
Getting into debt is easy, but getting out of debt is much more difficult. Paying off debt shows a lot of self discipline.
Not only do you have to commit to paying money toward your debt, but you also have to resist the temptation to overspend on other things.
You can help improve your self discipline when paying off debt by making your debt payments automatic.
Automating your monthly payments also means you won’t have to worry about missing a due date. Just be sure to make at least the minimum payment on each debt you have.
Building an emergency fund
Your emergency fund is one of the most essential financial tools you can have. Emergency funds are savings accounts where you keep a healthy amount of cash saved for unexpected expenses.
With an emergency fund, you’ll be prepared to cover expenses like sudden car repairs, medical bills, or a broken water heater.
Building your emergency fund, however, requires self discipline. Even after funding your savings account, you’ll need to use self discipline to keep yourself from using the funds for non-emergencies or non-necessities.
Examples of self discipline for your mindset
Your mindset is your mental attitude. It’s an important piece of who you are and how you respond to different situations. That doesn’t mean your mindset is set in stone, however!
In fact, changing your mindset through self discipline can help you feel more confident, reach your goals, and live a less stressful life.
Identifying your strengths and weaknesses
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Knowing those strengths and weaknesses makes it easier to grow — in your career, personal relationships, and as a person overall.
Identifying your strengths and weaknesses is the first step to building your strengths and reducing your weaknesses.
One way to figure out your strengths and weaknesses is to ask friends, family, and colleagues what they think you excel at and what could use work.
Once you know your strengths and weaknesses, you’ll need to use self discipline to work on them. You don’t want to neglect your strengths, which could cause your skills to slip. However, you also need to put extra effort into improving your weaknesses.
Self discipline will be important to finding the right balance to improve upon the things you do well and overcome your weaknesses.
Setting personal goals
Like your financial goals, personal goals are one of the major self discipline examples. Any time you set a new goal, you have to use self discipline to stay on track and meet the metrics of your goal.
For example, a common personal goal is to read at least one new book each month. To achieve this goal, you’ll have to use self discipline to manage your time effectively so you can finish each month’s book.
Exploring gratitude and contentment
While it’s a good idea to set personal goals and try to improve yourself, it’s also important to accept the things you already have.
Being grateful and content helps you live a more peaceful life. You’ll learn to appreciate the things you have and spend less time wanting the things you don’t.
Contentment and gratitude, however, often require self discipline. One of the hardest parts of contentment is getting rid of jealousy.
It’s easy to feel envious of someone who seems to have more than you, whether that’s nicer clothes, a bigger house, or even relationships with others.
Self discipline requires you to focus on what you do have, rather than the things you don’t, to feel grateful for your current life.
Letting go of limiting beliefs
Limiting beliefs are the negative things you feel or think about yourself. Holding a lot of limiting beliefs makes it hard to feel confident and can keep you from reaching your full potential.
You’ll have to use self discipline to let go of limiting beliefs. Long-held beliefs are particularly difficult to get rid of because you’ve convinced yourself of them for so long.
To help yourself overcome your limiting beliefs, try these tips:
Change how you think
Make changes to how you think by cutting out negative words like “can’t, don’t, or never.” Instead of “I can’t do this,” ask yourself “How do I achieve this?”
Examine your past
Do you have unsolved traumas that are contributing to your limiting beliefs? If so, you may want to work with a professional, such as a therapist, to help you overcome these negative feelings toward yourself.
Keep a journal of your accomplishments
Journaling can be of simple daily achievements as well as the things you’ve done so far in life. For example, maybe you’ve bought a home, graduated from college, or received a bonus at work.
Focus on taking action rather than an end goal of perfection. Oftentimes, just getting started is the most challenging part of trying something new.
Health and wellness self discipline examples
Your body is a complicated machine that needs both physical and mental nourishment to run properly. Self discipline is necessary for maintaining a healthy mind and body.
From eating to fuel your body to spending time on self-care, there are plenty of examples of self discipline related to health and wellness.
Setting health and wellness goals
Setting achievable — and measurable — health and wellness goals is a key part of improving your overall health. Like other goals, your health and wellness goals will require self discipline to stay on track and reach them.
For example, you might have a fitness goal to run a 5K three months from now. You’ll need to use self discipline to stick to a healthy eating plan, and running schedule, and give yourself time to rest your body.
Likewise, you may have a goal to eat more vegetables. You can practice self discipline by incorporating more veggie-based dishes into your weekly meals.
This also includes being conscious of what you’re ordering when you go out for a meal or what you’re purchasing at the grocery store.
Cutting back on unhealthy habits
Reducing or eliminating unhealthy habits is a good example of self discipline. This is even more important if your unhealthy habit has been part of your routine for a long time.
Smoking, for example, is a common unhealthy habit many people want to quit. But quitting smoking requires a high level of self discipline. You may have to try different methods to reach your goal.
Additionally, you may find yourself facing setbacks. For example, you try to quit smoking cold turkey and eventually give in to your cravings. Having self discipline will help you overcome the setback and adjust your plan to quit.
Starting an exercise routine
Starting a new exercise or fitness routine is one of the most difficult new goals to reach. It’s often easy to get started and you might stick to your routine for a few weeks. However, once you fall out of the routine, it’s all too easy to let it slip away.
To create a new exercise or fitness habit, you’ll need to use self discipline to encourage yourself to work out.
How to create an exercise routine
Follow these tips to make sticking to your routine a little easier:
- Put your exercise time on your schedule.
- Choose an activity that you enjoy, rather than forcing yourself to do something you don’t.
- Set achievable goals and start small. For example, try to jog for a minute at a time instead of trying to run for 30 minutes straight on your first day.
- Measure your process, such as recording the amount of time you spend working out, how far you ran, or how much weight you lifted.
Creating a self-care routine
Spending time caring for your mental health helps you handle stress, have more energy, and can even lessen your chances of illness. Establishing a regular self-care routine is key to improving your overall wellness.
The best part of a self-care routine is that it’s perfectly customizable for each person. Everyone will do self-care a little differently — and that’s ok!
Types of self care
A few common types of self-care include:
- A luxury skin-care routine
- Setting aside time for hobbies, like reading, painting, or woodworking
- Sticking to an exercise routine
- Doing yoga or using meditation to relax
- Dedicating time to visit with friends
Self discipline is important for a proper self-care routine. You’ll need to use self discipline to make your routine a priority.
Remember, self-care means putting yourself first to refill your personal energy cup. Making your routine a priority will help you be more relaxed, refreshed, and ready to handle the issues of everyday life.
Self discipline in your career
Whether you own your own business, work for a small company, or are climbing the corporate ladder, self discipline examples are necessary for your career.
For most people, having self discipline at work helps them stay focused, get their tasks done, and reach new career milestones.
Taking on new projects
It might be easy to do the bare minimum at work, but that could leave you feeling unfulfilled. With a little self discipline, you could take on new projects or tasks and have a bigger sense of purpose in your career.
Consider practicing self discipline by volunteering for a new project or taking over a routine task within your team. Showing your self discipline to take on the biggest projects and complete them could also lead to bonuses, raises, or promotions.
Cutting out distractions at work
We all suffer from distractions at work. Someone who works in an office might be tempted to spend time gossiping with colleagues while someone working from home might find ways to avoid work using housework or other tasks.
Whatever your distractions at work, practicing self discipline is a smart way to get rid of them.
For example, if you tend to spend too much time talking with coworkers, consider noise-canceling headphones so you can’t hear when an off-topic conversation gets started.
Or, if you find yourself spending too much time on social media instead of work, try turning off your personal phone during the workday and blocking social media sites on your work computer.
Scheduling your tasks
An easy way to build self discipline habits is to schedule your day. By dedicating time to each task for the day, you set yourself up for success.
What if you don’t know how long a task will take? Try a productivity method, such as the Pomodoro technique. This technique involves breaking a task down into intervals and giving yourself a break between each. For example:
- Set a timer for 30 minutes and focus on your task.
- When the timer finishes, take a short break for 3-5 minutes.
- After your break, set another 30-minute timer.
- Mark each completed 30-minute block.
- Once you complete 4 30-minute blocks, take a longer break of around 30-45 minutes.
You can repeat the sequence as often as needed to finish your task.
Tracking your accomplishments
You can track your self discipline at work by tracking your accomplishments. At the end of each day, week, or month, write down everything you got done during the time period. You might surprise yourself with how much you’ve accomplished in such a short time.
This can also help you when it’s time to ask for a new position or promotion. You’ll have a written record of everything you’ve completed while working in your position, which you can use to help show how your self discipline is an asset to the company.
Self discipline examples at home
It’s common for people to neglect their homes in favor of other, seemingly more pressing needs. However, a clean, positive home environment is an important factor in your overall health, mental wellness, and attitude.
Using self discipline at home can help you keep your home clean, maintain a positive home routine, and get more out of your downtime by managing your time.
Cleaning up after yourself
Have you ever cooked a delicious meal and then let your dishes “soak” in the sink for a few days? Every time you looked at the sink, you may have felt some anxiety that there were dirty dishes. But this might have left you feeling even more unwilling to clean up the mess.
Of course, when you finally clean up the dishes, you realize the task only took a few minutes and you felt so much better afterward.
Make cleaning a habit
With a little self discipline, you can almost entirely erase the guilt and anxiety of leaving a mess. The fix is simple, too: just try to clean up as you go.
This might be easier said than done, but getting into a tidying habit will help your home stay cleaner overall.
Cleaning up while cooking, for example, is a good way to practice self discipline and enjoy a clean home. As you finish using a dish, measuring cup, or knife in your recipe, take a few minutes to wash it and put it away before moving on to the next step.
Sticking to a cleaning routine
Cleaning up as you go can help keep your home tidier, but it’s not a complete replacement for regular deep cleaning. Self discipline can help you create and stick to a regular cleaning schedule.
Keeping a regular cleaning schedule can help you feel more in control of the state of your home. A clean home is also usually a healthy home that’s relaxing to live in.
You can use chore charts or a weekly planner to help you set your cleaning schedule. Try to break down your cleaning tasks by how often they need to be done. For example, make a checklist of your weekly tasks like vacuuming, laundry, and taking out the trash.
Going to sleep and waking up on time
You might remember hating bedtime when you were a kid. However, you might also remember feeling exhausted the next day any time you got to stay up past your bedtime.
As adults, we tend to overlook the importance of a bedtime or sleeping routine. But keeping a regular sleep schedule isn’t just good for kids — it’s also a big part of keeping yourself healthy.
Using a regular bedtime and waking up at a set time each morning helps your body develop a rhythm. This ultimately leaves you feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day when you wake up.
You also need to focus on the quality of your sleep. Ten hours of low-quality sleep where you toss and turn is generally less beneficial than seven hours of high-quality, deep sleep.
Managing your time wisely
Time management goes hand-in-hand with self discipline. In fact, these two skills rely on one another for success. You won’t be able to properly manage your time if you don’t have self discipline.
You can use self discipline to manage your time at home. This means dividing your time between cleaning, chores, family time, and personal time. Self discipline can also help you be more mindful of your downtime.
For example, if you work in front of a computer all day, you can use self discipline to choose to read a book or work on a non-screen hobby instead of watching television or playing on your phone during your downtime.
Start incorporating self discipline into your daily routine!
These self discipline examples are only the beginning of a well-rounded emotional and physical routine.
Try adding one or two of these suggestions into your life to get more self discipline practice. Or, consider creating your own examples of self discipline that fit into your work, fitness routine, home, or mindset goals!