Contrary to general belief, self-discipline isn't a severe and limited behaviour or a restrictive lifestyle. In its simplest form self-discipline is the ability to do what you need to do; even when you really don’t want to do it. There are many inspirational gurus who will tell you that life can be easy and when you take their advice, you will never have to struggle. But, no matter what you do in your life or, how you organise it; there will be times when you struggle, when you feel down, when you don’t want to do anything and when you really don’t care if the world falls apart. There is an obvious reason for this – while you can control yourself (most of the time); most things which happen in this world are outside of your control.

Self-discipline is needed at all times, whether you are feeling good or bad. It’s just that when you are feeling good, positive and motivated; you don’t struggle to apply your self-discipline. It just seems to happen subconsciously. Therefore, you don’t really notice it in action. It’s only when you are on a bad day and struggling that you notice your need for self-discipline.

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The Importance of Self-discipline

Self-discipline is a useful inner power, which enables one to hang on and not give up, despite failure and setbacks. It grants its possessor self-command, and the power to resist temptations and distractions that tend to stand in the way of attaining aims and goals. As a matter of fact, it's among the most crucial pillars of real and stable success.

With time and practice, your self-discipline kicks in naturally so that when things don't go as you might have hoped, you remain calm and at ease. You realise that what is going on in your external world does not need to have any impact on your internal world. Your external world may appear to be a mess but internally, you can be very happy. Have you ever seen how some people are never shaken by difficult times. They even seem happy when things are not going their way.

These people have enough self-discipline to realise that life will ebb and flow but they don't have to be thrown off by it. By remaining calm and continuing to do as they do, they realise that the downs will soon turn to ups.

3 Tips for developing your self-discipline

We can all strive to improve our self-discipline. The more we improve it, the better we become at sticking to our goals and the more we achieve. It is important to remember the following tips when you are attempting to improve your self-discipline.

1. It takes time

Self discipline patience aristotle quote

If you are currently disorganised and lacking in focus, you are not going to be a Jedi Master of self-discipline overnight. It is easy to lose heart when you experience setbacks but keep going. In fact, this is another situation where you can apply and practice your self-discipline. Have patience and if you experience a setback and find yourself slacking; acknowledge the position in which you find yourself and get back on track.

I have recently started to make some radical changes to how I live my life, including a significant increase in my meditation time and a drastic reduction in the time spent using non-work-related technology e.g. tv, phone, mp3 player. While I have seen some benefits already, I have naturally had to experience some resistance to these changes. It will take time for my self-discipline to be fully developed in these areas. I have chosen to be kind and loving to myself when I get something wrong as I know this will help me to get back on track quickly. I would recommend that you do likewise.

I would argue that learning to enjoy change and embrace your mistakes will make developing self-discipline considerably easier.

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2. Self-discipline is a muscle

Self discipline muscle carl sagan quote

OK, so you are not going to see it on an anatomy chart but just like a muscle, the more you use your self-discipline, the stronger it becomes. You wouldn’t go from bench pressing 50Kg to bench pressing 200kg in a couple of days. Instead, you would plan your journey in small steps and celebrate each piece of progress you make. View building your self-discipline as a challenge and take it on with enthusiasm.

This stems from the previous point but you need to be kind, loving, and patient with yourself when you are developing your self-discipline. Every 1% you improve will make a massive difference in the long-run so be grateful for every step you take. The temptation is to get frustrated with what appears to be slow progress but to do that is poor self-discipline.

If you sowed some flowers and they were not growing as quickly as you like, you wouldn’t grab the small piece that is above the ground and try to pull it up quickly. You know that it would be idiotic to do that so, don’t behave in an idiotic fashion towards yourself. When you stick with it, there will come a time when suddenly, you look back and realise you have come a long way. It may appear that the change has happened overnight but it takes a long time to become an overnight success.

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3. Practice, practice, practice

Self discipline practice aristotle quote

Self-discipline is something which you can use in every area of your life. There are ample opportunities each day to practice using your self-discipline. Seek out these opportunities and exercise your muscle. In time, you will find that your self-discipline increases and benefits every area of your life.

The opportunities to practice using your self-discipline do not have to be anything big. Every time you use that muscle, it gets a little stronger. It can range from getting out of bed as soon as the alarm sounds; to going to the gym at the time you said you were going to go.

I know that I get lazy some times and my self-discipline starts to drop but when it does, I take any opportunity I can to get it to kick back in. And when you do it in one area of your life, it does have knock-on effects. A while back, I was having trouble getting out of bed. I would keep hitting snooze on my alarm. I decided to commit to meditating at 5:15 a.m. each day. I value my meditation so, as soon as the alarm goes, I now spring out of bed so that I can have my shower and be in my meditation chair on time. It seems strange but the fact that I love my meditation has meant that is now easier to have some discipline about getting out of bed first time.

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Setting goals that inspire and motivate you is critical to help you develop self-discipline.

The 'Ultimate Guide to Goal Setting'  course will teach you to set great goals.


No matter what improvements you want to make in life, you need to have the self-discipline required to apply yourself consistently to the work involved. There will be good days and bad days in your life but you cannot allow these to hold you back. You might not manage to get your very best work done each day but when you have strong self-discipline, you will find that you maximise the benefit of your best days while, minimising the damage of your bad days. Why not make a commitment to improving your self-discipline and reaping the benefits that come with it?


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